Kick off your 2019 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.
This year's Union Square Tree Lighting Ceremony (Macy's 30th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony) is on Friday, November 29, 2019. Festivities begin at 6pm with the tree lighting scheduled for 6:40pm. Get to Union Square early for the best spot. The tree illuminates every night throughout the holidays.
Pier 39's annual tree will be lit for the first time of the season on Tuesday, November 26. They will lite the tree for the first time at 5pm. For the rest of the season the tree will be lit once an hour with a kalidoscope of colors. The tree lights up nightly once an hour from 5pm to 10pm throughout the holiday season, ending on January 5.
Head over to the Civic Center for this year's tree lighting event on December 4. Activities run from 4pm to 7pm and include performances by The Tap Dancing Christmas Trees, a visit from Santa, and free candy canes & popcorn for the kids.
The Topman All Starts and Dickens Fair Carolers from the Great Dickens Fair will also be performing. They will have Irish Coffee and hot chocolate as well as a few other items for sale.
Make sure to also stop by the new ice skating rink in the Civic Center district this year.
This year's Rainbow World Tree of Hope will once again be at Grace Cathedral. The lighting of this tree will take place on Tuesday, December 10. Events will kick off at 6:30pm with a performance by the 42nd St Moon Production of SCROOGE IN LOVE cast members. Additional performances start at 7pm.
The tree lighting is at 7:45pm. The party will follow starting at 8:30pm. Admission is free. The tree will continue to be on display throughout the holiday season.
The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco kicks off the holiday season on Monday, December 2 with their tree lighting ceremony. Join others in their lobby to see them light their 40-foot tree. Santa and his helpers will illuminate the tree.
The ceremony begins with Dickens-era costumed carolers and ends with kids getting their picture taken with Santa. They will also offer cider, hot chocolate, and cookies.
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.
This year's holiday tree lighting at Westfield Mall is scheduled for Friday, December 6. From 6pm to 9pm, enjoy live music, hosted holiday treats and beverages, and the unveiling of a new holiday decor. Make sure to stop by and say hello to Santa too.
It's free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required. Visit their site for details.
Nob Hill Tree Lighting (12/2): The annual lighting of the tree at Huntington Park in Nob Hill starts at 6pm. This one-hour event will include the tree lighting, light snacks, and live music.
Holiday Tree Lighting at McLaren Lodge (12/3): This event runs from 4pm to 8pm 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.
555 California (12/3): This holiday event starts at 5:30pm and features holiday music, a tree lighting, and treats in the Financial District. The Pacific Boy Choir will perform. After the tree lighting, they are also holding a fundraiser to benefit All Star Helping Kids.
Night Bloom (Select Nights from 11/22 - 1/5): Step inside the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers for this year's Night Bloom. You will find each gallery filled with light and sound. It's a one of a kind experience and a rare oppotunity to visit the conservatory at night. Visit their site for ticketing details.
Stop by Union Square on Sunday, December 22 at 4:30pm for the 1st lighting ceremony. You can then stop by daily at 5pm for the daily lighting ceremony. The final lighting is on Sunday, December 29.
Each night, the music and celebration begins at 5pm with the candle lighting at around 5:30pm.
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.
The annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair starts on November 23. Every weekend through December 22 (plus the day after Thanksgiving), head over to the festival for a journey back in time. The event is set in Dicken's London where you can shop, eat, and enjoy live entertainment. Find tickets at a discount for this event on Goldstar.
The Embarcadero Center invites you to join them on Friday, November 22, 2019 from 4pm to 7pm for their Building Lighting Ceremony and Carnival. As the sun sets, all four Embarcadero Center buildings will be lit, followed by a grand fireworks display. The carnival also includes children's activities, a visit from Santa Claus, and a special show by Disney on Ice.
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!
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 November 30 and stay open until January 1.
On Friday, November 29 and Saturday, November 30, Fourth Street in San Rafael will fill with holiday cheer. Starting at noon both days, the Market Place opens for holiday shopping and stays open until 8pm. On Friday, the kids can enjoy snowsleding between Noon and 4:30pm and from 6pm to 8pm. On Saturday, the kids activities last from 9am to Noon. This year's parade starts at 5:30pm on Friday.
The beautiful waterfront town of Monterey will celebrate the holidays on Friday, November 29. This free event features live reindeer from 4pm to 8:30pm, a tree lighting ceremony at 6pm, and a visit from Santa Claus from 6pm to 9pm. All events will be in Steinbeck Plaza and the area in front of Bubba Gumps. Click here for additional holiday events around Monterey.
The 2019 Night of Lights in Half Moon Bay is on Friday, December 13. 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.
On Friday, November 22, Oakland's Jack London Square will light up for the holidays. Join them for this annual celebration from 5pm to 8pm at the foot of Broadway. In addition to the tree lighting ceremony, you can also see musical performances, live reindeer, holiday surprises, and more. The tree lighting is at 7:15pm. Come early for a special visit from Santa starting at 5:15pm.
Tiburon's Holiday Festival is on Saturday, December 1. This all day event (2pm to 6pm) features professional photos with Santa, holiday activities, arts & crafts from local artists, and Merrie Olde Christmas Carolers. The tree lighting is at 6pm at the Fountain Plaza in downtown Tiburon.
Do you have a tree lighting ceremony or other holiday event you would like to add? Click this link for details on how you can add your ceremony to this list!
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
Day in SF
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Hi there! I'm Jill Loeffler and welcome to my site. I've been exploring San Francisco for almost two decades and I can't wait to help you find the best things to do here! Thanks for stopping by and please contact me if you have any questions before your trip.