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San Francisco Events in December 2016

Festivals, Lighting Ceremonies, & Christmas Activities

San Francisco events in December 2016 include several tree lighting ceremonies, Christmas activities, and other fun things to do. You can head to the theater to see The Lion King or The King & I, catch one of the SF Ballet's popular Nutcracker performances, or visit Santa Claus at one of several locations around town.

City Hall at Christmas

In addition, the SF 49ers play one home game this month, and Cirque du Soleil brings a beautiful show called Luzia to town.

Most Popular San Francisco Events in December 2016

Click the links below to jump to the section with more information on these top December events.

Eve & Day
New Year's
Eve Activities
Holiday Tree
Lighting Events
SF Ballet's
Christmas NYE tree lighting Nutcracker

SF Theater: The Lion King and The King & I

The Lion KingThe Lion King Tickets (11/2 - 12/31): On sale for all performances

The King & I Tickets (11/15 - 12/11): On sale for all performances

In December 2016, you will find two large theater productions. The first is The Lion King. This classic Disney Broadway musical is fun for the entire family. The second production this month that you must see is The King & I. It's an award-winning musical set in 1860s Bangkok, and it's one of the most famous productions by Rodgers & Hammerstein.

Additional Shows this Month: Click here for a full calendar of theater productions in SF in December

Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Dickens Christmas FairDates: Saturdays & Sundays from November 19 - December 18

For the first three weekends of December in San Francisco, you have the unique opportunity of immersing yourself in a world centuries and half a globe away, to Charles Dickens' Victorian London, where it's always Christmas Eve.

Here you'll find hundreds of costumed guests, as well as lamplit lanes, pubs, theaters, music halls, and shops, like a Victorian Christmas card come to life.

Learn More: Visit their site for details and tickets

SF Theater: A Christmas Carol

Christmas CarolDates: 11/25 - 12/24

Discounted Tickets: On sale at up to 50% off for most performances

Tickets: On sale for all performances

A Christmas Carol is a beloved San Francisco tradition this time of year. For over 40 years, the SF American Conservatory Theater has performed this musical version of Charles Dickens' classic tale with a lively cast, colorful costumes, and spooky ghosts. You can catch this holiday favorite at the Geary Theater all month long, even on Christmas Eve. Make sure to plan ahead as tickets sell out quickly!

Additional Shows this Month: Click here for a full calendar of theater productions in SF in December

SF Ballet: The Nutcracker

Nutcracker SFDates: December 10 - 29

Tickets: On sale for all performances

The SF Ballet will perform The Nutcracker again this December at the War Memorial Opera House. It was performed here for the first time in the US on Christmas Eve, 1944.

Enjoy a performance with your entire family. Shows run from December 10 - 29.

Learn More: Find out more about these shows

Cirque du Soleil

LuziaDates: 11/18 - 1/8

Discounted Tickets: Available for select performances at up to 50% off

Tickets: On sale now for all performances

Cirque du Soleil, globally renowned for its astounding acrobatic performances, has brought to San Francisco this year a fantastic show called Luzia: A Waking Dream of Mexico. Get ready for a magical dreamlike journey through Mexico's natural beauty, music, and culture. Just make your way over to AT&T Park where you can't miss the coveted circus tent.

Learn More: See the full schedule and buy your tickets today!

Half-Priced Tickets for San Francisco Events in December

  • San Francisco Bay Cruise: 60-minute ride around the SF Bay, runs several times every day, leaves from Fisherman's Wharf, Full price $30, Goldstar price $15*

  • Santaland Diaries: A twisted take on the holiday season by humor writer David Sedaris, this hilarious theater production was adopted for the stage and is heading into its 15th season, Eureka Theater, Full price $25-$35, Goldstar $12.50-$17.50*

  • Twilight Cruise: 2-hour cruise at twilight, includes a hearty appetizer buffet, leaves from Fisherman's Wharf, Full price $64, Goldstar price $32*

*Small fee will apply at checkout.

Avenue Q at the New Conservatory Theater

Avenue QDates: 12/10 - 1/15

Discounted Tickets: Find tickets to most performances at up to 50% off on Goldstar

Avenue Q will keep you laughing all night long. This entertaining Tony Award winning musical is the adult version of Sesame Street. This entertaining show features puppets finding that the realities of adulthood are different from the shows they watched and learned from in their childhood.

More: Find a schedule of all musicals on stage this December in SF

SF Opera

Madame ButterflyDates: Aida: November 5 - December 6; Madame Butterfly: November 6 - December 4

Don't miss the concluding performances of two great classics at the SF Opera. The first is Aida, Verdi's grand epic love story of an Egyptian military hero and an Ethiopian slave girl.

The second is Madame Butterfly, which tells the story of cultural clash between a trusting young geisha and the American naval officer she marries in Japan.

Learn More: See the full Opera calendar

Free Museum Days

Conservatory of FlowersDates: Several in December

Whether your interest is art, history, technology, or gardening, you are sure to be delighted by SF's variety of world-class museums, including the Asian Art Museum, Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, Conservatory of Flowers, de Young Fine Arts, Legion of Honor, and more.

Even better, you don't have to break the bank to visit them!

Learn More: Click the link below to find out which museums offer free admission on which days in December

Live Music in SF

Concerts GenericaDates: Several

Lucky for live music fans, San Francisco is a city with lots of great concert venues. They range from large auditoriums to more intimate spaces, and they welcome big and small names from all different genres. This month, catch Los Lobos at the Fillmore, One Starry Night (Lindsey Stirling, Andy Grammer, Gavin DeGraw, and Walking on Cars) at the Nob Hill Masonic Center, Zeds Dead at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, Gladys Knight at the Davies Symphony Hall, and much more.

Learn More: See a full list of the top upcoming shows as well as ticketing information

Three Perfect Days in SF

Three Day ItineraryDates: Every day in December

With this three-day itinerary, you will discover the very best of San Francisco, including top attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Chinatown. You will also get to ride a cable car, go shopping, see colorful murals, and explore great neighborhoods on foot.

Make the most of your 72-hour visit to the city!

Learn More: Get the detailed itinerary

Top Places to Stay

If you plan to check out some of these great San Francisco events in December, then I recommend staying a few nights as well. The best places to stay are in SF's Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf. Both offer great access to the rest of the city. You might also want to try one of our lovely boutique hotels or splurge on a five star gem.

Five Star
Union Square Fishermans Wharf Boutique Hotel Five Star Hotels

Check out recent guest reviews and great deals today! Save up to 50% on Value Deals in San Francisco!

TripAdvisor: View San Francisco Deals!

  • Tree Lighting Celebrations & Other Holiday Festivals

    Tree Lighting Pier 39Dates: Several in December

    The whole city is getting into the holiday spirit. Tree and Menorah lighting ceremonies continue to illuminate San Francisco this month as the holidays draw near, and it doesn't stop there!

    Union Street's beautiful Victorian homes, the Embarcadero, and even the SF Zoo will all come to life with lights, and you can be a part of it!

    Learn More: Check out the full schedule of ceremonies and holiday festivals

    Lewis Black at the Nob Hill Masonic Center

    Lewis BlackDate: December 2 at 8pm

    Tickets: Buy your tickets today

    Enjoy a night with Lewis Black at the Nob Hill Masonic Center. Black is well known for his political humor, as well as his angry faces and hostile (yet funny) style. He takes the stage at 8pm.

    Learn More: Find additional comedians on stage this December in SF

    Santa Con

    Santa Con SFDate: December 10

    Santa Con is huge annual event held in large cities all over the country and world, in which thousands of everyday people dress up as Santa and walk through the streets together spreading holiday cheer. Either put on your jolly red suit to join in, or head towards downtown to take in the unique sight.

    Learn More: Find out more about this funky Santa event

    Parol Lantern Festival & Parade

    Parol LanternDate: December 10

    Don't miss the 14th annual Parol Lantern Festival and Parade, a Filipino-American tradition in San Francisco showcasing the beautiful colors of their culture. This year's theme is "SoMa Pilipinas: Bring Our Culture to Light." Festivities start at 5pm and the parade of star-shaped lanterns and dozens of local organizations takes off from Yerba Buena Gardens at 6:15pm. Leading up to the event, you can make your own parol lantern at the Bayanihan Community Center.

    Learn More: Get the details for this year's festival

    Santa Skivvies Run

    Santa Skivvies RunDate: December 11

    This is not your average run to raise awareness and fight HIV/AIDS. This is a festive and fun tradition in San Francisco's Castro district, where you get to jog approximately one mile through this neighborhood among hundreds of other Santas in their underwear!

    Click the link below to register today!

    Learn More: Visit their site to register

    Ice Skating in SF

    Ice Skating in SFDates: November 2 - January 8

    Without a white Christmas, San Francisco still manages to bring the wintry magic of the holidays right to the heart of downtown. While you're out shopping, eating, and taking in the urban holiday decor of Union Square or the Embarcadero, take a break to catch a nice breeze on one of the outdoor skating rinks that only appear during this season. 90-minute sessions are affordable and skate rentals are available.

    Learn More: Get more details about session times and rentals at Union Square

    Learn More: Find out more about the Bay Area's largest outdoor rink at the Embarcadero

    Santa Claus in SF

    Santa in SFDates: Several in December

    Another one of the top San Francisco events in December is when Santa Claus starts to make his rounds.

    You can find him and take pictures with him at the Westfield, Japantown and Stonestown malls, as well as at the SF Zoo, the Fairmont's life-sized gingerbread house, the Ritz Carlton, Ghirardelli Square, and more!

    Learn More: Click here for details on how to track down the man in the big red suit

    SF 49ers vs. the NY Jets

    49ers LogoDate: Sunday, December 11

    Tickets: On sale now

    The SF 49ers have one home game this month at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. They play host to the New York Jets on Sunday, December 11 at 1:05pm. Head down early for pre-game tailgating and to check out their new stadium.

    Learn More: Find the 49ers full schedule for 2016 + details on attending a game at Levi's Stadium

    Lighted Boat Parade

    Lighted Boat ParadeDate: December 16

    The Lighted Boat Parade has been a holiday tradition and one of the popular San Francisco events in December since 1994. It is a unique event that brings the holiday spirit out onto the bay and invites everyone to enjoy San Francisco's waterfront.

    Watch the decorated boats parade past Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, Fort Mason, and Crissy Field.

    Learn More: Read more on the Fisherman's Wharf website

    Christmas Eve & Day

    Christmas in SFDates: December 24 & 25

    If you're planning to be in town for Christmas Eve and/or Day, don't worry; you'll find plenty of things to do and see. Check out the list of attractions, tours, and restaurants that remain open on this holiday and even offer special menus and services. In addition, you may want to catch a holiday performance of The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol.

    Learn More: Discover the full list of what to do on Christmas Eve and Day

    New Year's Eve

    NYE Fireworks SFDate: December 31

    Whether you prefer getting dressed up for a fancy dinner, having a night out dancing, watching fireworks, or attending a special performance of the SF Symphony, you will love New Years Eve in San Francisco.

    Ring in your 2017 in the City by the Bay!

    Learn More: Get the details on this year's parties, which SF attractions are open, how to take public transit, and more

    Latke Ball at Ruby Skye

    Latke Ball SFDate: December 24

    This year's annual Latke Ball will be held at Ruby Skye. This Christmas Eve Ball falls on the first night of Chanukah.

    It's a great way to celebrate the Bay Area's young Jewish community. All proceeds will go to support this community.

    21+ event.

    More: More information and ticketing details on their website

    What to Pack

    Are you looking for ideas on what to pack for your visit? My weather guide for December will give you information on the average temperatures, what to expect during your stay and some ideas on what to bring along. It's a great way to help you prepare for your visit.

    >> Tips to prepare for your visit in December

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