San Francisco Tree Lighting & Holiday Events 2021

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: November 30, 2021

Kick off your holiday celebrations at one of these colorful events in San Francisco. This year's activities include tree lighting ceremonies as well as holiday winter wonderland festivals. You can also participate in one of several Menorah Lighting celebrations.

The list includes events both in San Francisco and other popular festivals throughout the Bay Area.

The Pier 39 holiday treePier 39's tree at night

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

Union Square

This year's Union Square Tree Lighting Ceremony will not take place, but the tree is lit and you are welcome to visit it through the end of the year. For safety, they will not be having their large, annual lighting event on Black Friday.

The tree will be illuminated every night throughout the holidays.

>> Find additional fun things to do in Union Square

Pier 39

Pier 39's annual tree will be lit for the first time of the season on Tuesday, November 23. They will not host a large ceremony, but instead light the tree for all to see for the first time on this night.

They will light the tree for the first time at 5pm. It will then offer a light show every half hour from 5 pm to 10 pm nightly.

For the rest of the season the tree light up for all to enjoy with the last night of the season on January 9.

>> More things to do at Pier 39

Civic Center Tree Lighting Ceremony

Head over to the Civic Center for this year's tree lighting event on December 1. Activities run from 4pm to 7pm and include performances, and a visit from Santa.

The official tree lighting is at 5:15 pm. 

Stay warm with some Irish Coffee, mulled wine, or hot chocolate which will be for sale from Best Beverage Catering. Annie's Hot Dog Cart will also be on hand selling goodies for this holiday event.

Rainbow World Tree of Hope Lighting at Grace Cathedral

This year's Rainbow World Tree of Hope will once again be at Grace Cathedral. The lighting of this tree will take place on Monday, December 6. Events will kick off at 7 pm with performances by the San Francisco Boys Chorus, the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, and others.

The tree lighting is around 7:45pm. All activities will wrap up at 8:30 pm. Admission is free. The tree will continue to be on display throughout the holiday season. 

Dollie + Me Tea Event at the Westin St. Francis Hotels

The Westin St. Francis Hotel and kit & sisTM are partnering to host a Dollie + Me Tea event on December 18 & 19. It's a great time for children, families, mother/daughter duos, and other loved ones to celebrate the holiday season.

The kids will enjoy hot chocolate, Dollie + Me sweet treats, and assorted tea sandwiches while they create fun holiday crafts with kit & sis. Champagne will be served for the adults too! 

>> Visit Eventbrite to learn more and to book your spot

Presidio (TBD for 2021)

Head over to the Presidio for their annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday, December 6. Activities start at 5:30 pm and include free holiday craft activities for kids as well as caroling from the Golden Gate Carolers. Light refreshments will be available. 

The ceremony will be followed by a guided lantern walk through the forests (don't forget your flashlight!) at 6pm. All activities are free. Meet at the Main Post (just past the Presidio Y) to join in on the fun. The event runs until 7 pm.

>> Additional things to do in the Presidio

Tree Lighting at Westfield Mall

This year's holiday tree lighting at Westfield Mall is scheduled for Wednesday, December 1. They are combining this event with the Modern Luxury Wine Country Awards.

The event runs from 6 pm to 10 pm. It will feature cocktail bars, live holiday entertainment, and small bites from some of SF's best chefs. Tickets start at $75 per person.

Your ticket for the tree lighting will also gain you entry into the Wine Country Awards show hosted by San Francisco Magazine.

Fun SF Tours & Activities

More Holiday Events Around San Francisco

Nob Hill Tree Lighting (11/29): The annual lighting of the tree at Huntington Park in Nob Hill starts at 6:30 pm. This one-hour event will include the tree lighting, light snacks, and live music. 

Holiday Tree Lighting at McLaren Lodge (12/2): This event runs from 4 pm to 8 pm at John McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park. Will include kids activities such as carnival rides, arts & crafts, cookie factory, a visit from Santa and more.

National AIDS Memorial Lighting Ceremony (12/1): This is the first time the National AIDS Memorial Grove will be lit up for the holidays. The ceremony is on World AIDS Day and the event runs from 4:30 pm to 9 pm.

Holiday Artists and Makers Fair Sale (12/10 & 12/11): Head over to The Box SF for their first ever Holiday Artists and Makers Fair Sale. The event will run on Saturday and Sunday. It's free and open to the public. It's a great  time to pick up holiday gifts! The event is at 1069 Howard Street. Must show vaccination card or a negative test result (taken within 72-hours of the start of the event). 

Patchwork Show Modern Makers Festival (11/27, 12/11 & 12/12): This is another great event with local, hand made crafts and gifts. It's at the Westfield San Francisco Centre. It's open all three days from 10 am to 4 pm.

Bill Graham Menorah Project

Stop by Union Square on Sunday, November 28 at 5 pm for the 1st lighting. The live ceremony runs from 3 pm to 5:30 pm. You can then stop by daily at 5 pm for the daily lighting ceremony. The lighting on Friday, December 3rd will be early at 3 pm. The lighting on Saturday, December 4 will be late at 8:15 pm. Both are rescheduled due to Shabbat. 

The final lighting is on Sunday, December 5th.

Each night, the music and celebration runs from around 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm with the candle lighting at around 5 pm. The two exceptions are on December 3rd (3 pm to 3:20 pm) and December 4th (8 pm to 9 pm).

This event will also be online for 2021. Visit their Facebook page for "Chanukah Live." 

Upcoming Events by Month

Are you looking for additional fun things to do in San Francisco? Click the links below to visit the calendar of events for that month.













Other Holiday Festivals in SF

Great Dickens Christmas Fair

The annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair will look a little different this year. This year's event will feature a drive through version of this popular activity.

Ride through as you enjoy delicious foods, entertainment, handmade crafts and more.

There will also be a variety of at home options such as entertainment and shopping! 

It will run for five weekends starting the weekend of Thanksgiving.

Embarcadero Center Winter Carnival and Building Lighting

The year, the Embarcadero Center has made the decision to cancel their annual Winter Carnaval. However, they do plan to light the buildings for the holidays. The aren't announcing an official lighting day, but make sure to stop by to check out their gorgeous lights during the holiday season.

Hotel Deals: Are you planning on spending the holidays in San Francisco? If so, then check out the holiday hotel specials on TripAdvisor. They offer dozens of hotel deals so you can save on your room or get something free, such as parking, during your stay. Click here to check out their holiday specials and to save on your stay today!

Gingerbread House at the Fairmont Nob Hill

Admire one of the best Gingerbread House displays in the entire Bay Area at the Fairmont in Nob Hill. This 2-story, 25 foot tall adobe house features more than 1,500 pounds of candy! It's an amazing site to see.

The display will open on Saturday, November 27 at 11 am and stay open through the end of the year.  

>> More about the Fairmont on Nob Hill

2021 Holiday Events Around the Bay Area

Monterey Cannery Row Tree Lighting

The beautiful waterfront town of Monterey will celebrate the holidays on Friday, November 26.

This year's event runs from 5 pm to 7 pm with the tree lighting set for 5:45 pm.

This year, Santa will be on hand and practicing social distancing. He will greet all visitors with a wave from the balcony above the plaza.

Other fun things to do include checking out the holiday lights, checking out the local shops, and grabbing a bite to eat. 

All events will be in Steinbeck Plaza and the area in front of Bubba Gumps.

Click here for additional holiday events around Monterey.

Half Moon Bay Nights of Lights

The Nights of Lights is Fridays from November 26 through December 17.

The 2021 Night of Lights Christmas Tree Lighting in Half Moon Bay is on Friday, November 29.

Their annual Lighted Parade down Main Street is on Friday, December 3. From 6pm to 9pm, enjoy the parade of lights down Main Street, live music, roasted chestnuts and activities for the kids. Many of the stores will stay open late, so you can also get in a little holiday shopping during your visit.

Jack London Square in Oakland

On Saturday, December 11, Oakland's Jack London Square will light up for the holidays.

Join them for this annual celebration from 6 pm to 8 pm on the plaza near Plank .

In addition to the tree lighting ceremony, you can also see musical performances, holiday surprises, and more. Santa will also make an appearance.

On a Search for Santa?

In addition to the places mentioned above, Santa will make dozens of additional stops all around San Francisco. He will be taking pictures at the Japantown Center Malls, Stonestown Galleria, and the Westfield Shopping Center. He will also stop by to celebrate the season at the Hyatt Regency and the SF Zoo.

Learn More: Full List of Places to See Santa

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