San Francisco Events in December 2022: Festivals, Lighting Ceremonies, & Christmas Activities

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: November 2, 2022

San Francisco events in December 2022 include several tree lighting ceremonies, Christmas activities, and other fun things to do.

You can head to the theater to see A Christmas Carol, catch one of the SF Ballet's popular Nutcracker performances, or visit Santa Claus at one of several locations around town.

San Francisco City Hall all decked out in Christmas colors.

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

Most Popular San Francisco Events in December 2022

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

SF Broadway Theater in December: Disney's Frozen

A Christmas Carol

Dates: 11/18 - 12/30

Location: Orpheum Theater

Tickets: Ticketmaster | TicketNetwork

The biggest Broadway show on stage this month is Disney's Frozen.

This musical features many of the songs you've grown to love from the hit movie. The award winning writers of the movie expanded the stage version to included several additional songs to the score.

It's on stage at the Orpheum Theater for six weeks from November 18 through December 30.

It's one of the best San Francisco events in December.

>> Click here for a full calendar of theater productions in SF in December

>> Learn more about SF's theater district

A Christmas Carol at the A.C.T.

Dates: 11/30 - 12/24

Location: American Conservatory Theatre

Tickets: Ticketmaster | TicketNetwork

A Christmas Carol is a beloved San Francisco tradition this time of year.

For more than 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!

Cruises Around the SF Bay

Cruises around the SF Bay

One of the best San Francisco events in December is a cruise around the SF Bay. You will find about two dozens cruise each day of the year.

Top options offer you the chance to spend an hour or two on the SF Bay as you soak in the sights along the shoreline.

Almost all of them cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge - twice! You will also cruise near Alcatraz. Many of them leave from the piers in or near Fisherman's Wharf.

Some offer a few drinks, others offer some light appetizers, and all of them will give you time to relax and unwind. They are all an experience you will never forget!

Golden State Warriors Basketball

Golden State Warriors

Dates: 12/2, 12/3, 12/5, 12/10, 12/25, 12/27, 12/28, 12/30

Tickets: Ticketmaster | TicketNetwork

Don't miss your chance to see the 2022/2023 Golden State Warriors on the court this month.

It's one of the hottest San Francisco events in December. This month, they play more than a half dozen games at home at the Chase Center in SF

Top opponents this month include teams such as the Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets, and the Portland Trail Blazers.

>> Find additional information on seeing a game

Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Dates: Saturdays & Sundays from Thanksgiving Weekend to Christmas

For the first four 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.

>> Visit their site for details and tickets

SF Ballet: The Nutcracker


Dates: 12/8 - 12/27

Tickets: Ticketmaster | TicketNetwork

The SF Ballet will perform The Nutcracker again this December at the War Memorial Opera House. 

It was performed in San Francisco for the first time in the US on Christmas Eve, 1944. 

Although it's now performed all around the county, this one is a popular ticket so make sure to get yours early.

It's one of the best family-friendly San Francisco events in December. Shows run from December 8-27.

>> Find out more about these shows

Free Museum Days

Free Museum Days in SF

Dates: 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, 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!

Many of them offer you the chance to take a look at their permanent collection. Some of them also allow you to view their temporary collections and others require separate tickets.

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

>> Additional free things to do this month

Live Music & Concerts in SF

December Concerts

Dates: 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 top performances at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the Nob Hill Masonic Center or The Fillmore. You will also find several top shows around the SF Bay Area.

>> See a full list of the top upcoming shows as well as ticketing information

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.

Check out recent guest reviews and great deals today! 

BookingFind great deals all around San Francisco for your upcoming stay

TripAdvisorWhat's the #1 hotel in San Francisco? Read reviews & find hotel deals on TripAdvisor!

VRBO: In addition to hotels, you'll also find some great places to stay locally through VRBO. Book an apartment or a room and feel more like a local. Find some great places to stay on VRBO here

Tree Lighting Celebrations & Other Holiday Festivals

Tree Lighting

Dates: 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!

>> Check out the full schedule of ceremonies and holiday festivals

Ice Skating in SF

Ice Skating

Dates: Throughout the month

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, take a break to catch a nice breeze on one of the outdoor skating rinks that only appear during this season.

One hour to 90-minute sessions are affordable and skate rentals are available.

>> Get more details about session times and rentals at Union Square

>> Top outdoor rinks in the SF Bay Area this season

Nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences

Cal Academy

One of the hottest San Francisco events in December at our local museums is Nightlife. This 21+ event is at the California Academy of Sciences.

Every Thursday night in December, they throw a huge party. Each one evolves around a theme.

Previous themes include Animal Behavior, Beyond Human, and Fermented. All activities for the evening will have something to do with that night's theme.

You can explore the museum, grab a drink in their cocktail area, and meet other nature and science lovers. The event starts at 6 pm and runs until 10 pm.

>> Find tickets for all dates in December


Jill at Santacon

Date: 12/10

This is what you will find on normal years for this event, when it's officially scheduled.

SantaCon 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.

The event starts with a gathering in Union Square. All santas will then head to one of several designated districts around SF for drink specials and other holiday merriment. 

>> Find out more about this funky Santa event

Parol Lantern Festival & Parade

Paro Lantern

Date: 12/10

Don't miss the 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 "Light Tomorrow with Today." Festivities start at 4 pm and the parade of star-shaped lanterns and dozens of local organizations takes off from Yerba Buena Gardens at 6:15 pm. 

Leading up to the event, you can make your own parol lantern at the Soma Pilipinas Filipino Cultural Heritage District.

>> Get the details for this year's festival

Santa Skivvies Run

Santa Skivvies Run

Date: 12/11

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!

You can wear your skivvies, underwear, bras, speedos or other red undergarments. You can also wear a fun holiday costume. The entire run is in the Castro district and a fun way to raise awareness and money to fight HIV/AIDS.

Click the link below to register today!

>> Visit their site to register

SF City Pass

City Pass December

Want to save big this holiday season? Check out the San Francisco City Pass discount card.

This pass includes admission into the California Academy of Sciences, the Aquarium of the Bay and either the Exploratorium or the SF Museum of Modern Art. 

It also includes one ride on a Blue and Gold Fleet Bay Cruise plus other discounts around SF.

It's a great way to save during your visit and enjoy some of SF's top museums.

>> Find additional details and pricing information

Santa Claus in SF

Santa in SF

Dates: 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!

>> Click here for details on how to track down the man in the big red suit

Lighted Boat Parade

Lighted Boat Parade

Date: 12/16

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 pass Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, Fort Mason, and Crissy Field. It runs from 6 pm to 8 pm.

SF 49ers at Home

Football on the grass

Date: 12/4, 12/11, & 12/24

Tickets: Ticketmaster | TicketNetwork

The SF 49ers have three home games this month at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. 

They play host to the Miami Dolphins on 12/4, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on 12/11, and the Washington Commanders on 12/24. 

Head down early for pre-game tailgating and to check out their new stadium.

>> Find the 49ers full schedule + details on attending a game at Levi's Stadium

Christmas Eve & Day

Christmas in SF

Dates: 12/24 & 12/25

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. Christmas Eve is full of fun shows and performances. Many of our top attractions and museums are open, but close early.

On Christmas Day, you will find several museums and attractions open. You will also find that many tours offer several options all day long.

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. 

>> Discover the full list of what to do on Christmas Eve and Day

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve Celebrations

Date: 12/31

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.

You will find many attractions are open on NYE, but close a little early. You will also find several tours and activities running regular schedules that day.

In addition, I've included a few ideas and fun things to do on New Year's Day. 

Ring in your 2022 in the City by the Bay! 

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

What to Pack for December

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

December Events Around the SF Bay Area

Jack London Square Tree Lighting Ceremony

Date: 12/3

If you are looking for a tree lighting in the city of Oakland, Jack London Square is the place to be! Their 55 foot Mount Shasta Fir tree will be adorned with over 5,000 beautiful sparkling lights to be seen by all.

This event is free for all to attend and is located on the Oakland waterfront so you can enjoy views of the bay as well as live music and so much more.

There are many restaurants and local stores to explore before or after the tree is lit if you want to spend some time enjoying this wonderful location.

Christmas in the Park in San Jose

Dates: 11/26 - 1/1

Starting in the early 1950s, Christmas in the Park has been a holiday tradition in San Jose. This wonderful event runs for several weeks and includes a traditional tree lighting, a dog day in the park, breakfast with Santa, and more.

This event is free and there is food and drink available for all to enjoy. Santa has a special booth in the park so you and your family can make sure to visit him and get a photo or two.

This year, they will have both drive through and walk through options.

Winterfest at Great America in Santa Clara

Dates: Select dates 11/25 - 1/1

Winterfest is another one of the top SF Bay Area events in December. This family-friendly activity includes live shows, the chance to bake cookies with Mrs. Claus, and enjoy the snowfall in Hometown Square.

Make sure to spend some time admiring one of the largest SF Bay Area Christmas trees and checking out the great rides here.

Craneway Crafts Fair

Dates: 12/3 & 12/4

Head over to Richmond for one of the Bay Area's largest holiday craft fairs. The Craneway Crafts Fair features more than 180 artists from the Bay Area and beyond. It's the perfect place to shop for holiday goodies including jewelry, ceramics, woodwork, photography, gourmet goodies, and so much more.

The event benefits KPFA public radio. Craneway Pavilion (1414 Harbour Way South in Richmond, CA) is where you will find this event.

San Jose Sharks

Dates12/7, 12/13, 12/18, 12/20, 12/22 & 12/29

The San Jose Sharks are another one of the top SF Bay Area events in December 2021. This month, they take on teams such as the Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, and the Dallas Stars.

All games are at the SAP Center in San Jose. 

More on attending a game this month.

First Night Monterey

Date: 12/31

Even though it is titled, "First Night Monterey", it is actually held on New Year's Eve, the last day of the year, in the historic downtown of Monterey. Starting at 3 pm with the Kids' Night Event and the always joyous twilight parade, kids of all ages will have a blast. 

First Night continues with The Main Event which includes music and over 65 different dance performances located all around the area. These range from Latin, to ballet, to modern and to other world dances. The Finale Performance includes live music as the countdown to the first day of 2023 arrives at 12:00 am.

>> More things to do this month in Monterey

Sonoma Events in December

This December, spend some time in Sonoma and sample their amazing wines. This month, you will find plenty of craft fairs, wine tasting events, and the annual Lighting of the Snowmen.

>> Discover a full calendar of events in Sonoma this month

Napa Events in December

Other top SF Bay Area event in December are in Napa. This month, you will find plenty to do including the Calistoga Christmas Faire, Winter in the Wineries, and the Holidays in Yountville. You will also find several wineries with open houses and other holiday events.

>> Find more events this December in Napa

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

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