Winter Events in San Francisco: 20 Best for 2023

Jill at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Uncover the 20 top winter events in San Francisco. From November to February, you will find a number of fun festivals, wine tasting events, theater performances, and more.

Highlights during this time of year in SF including holiday tree lighting ceremonies, visits from Santa Claus, and plenty of activities on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.

Once the new year rolls around, you can laugh all night long with comedy shows during SF Sketchfest, admire the traditions and beauty of the Chinese culture during their annual New Year's Parade & Celebration, and sample the top American wines during the Chronicle Wine Competition.

The Pier 39 holiday tree at night.

Read on for more details on the best annual events in SF every winter.

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

1. 49ers

Tickets: Find tickets for all 49ers Games this Season

The SF 49ers play their final season games in November and December each year. You will find one to two home games each month. The 49ers play all of their regular season games at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, which is about an hour south of San Francisco.

Dates: November & December

Learn More: Discover the Full SF 49ers Home Game Schedule

2. Chinese New Year Parade & Festival

The Chinese New Year is set to the lunar calendar. This changes the date of the celebration each year, but it's often in late January, February, or early March. The festival is a month long event that includes a flower market, basketball tournament, and street fair.

The biggest draw is the parade. This 3+ hour parade is on a Saturday night and showcases the color and beauty of the Chinese culture.

Dates: Late January, February, or Early March

Learn More: Find Details for this Year's Event

3. Christmas Eve & Day

Celebrate Christmas in San Francisco! Every year, you will find fun activities on Christmas Eve as well as on Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, you can enjoy a performance of the Nutcracker by the SF Ballet, catch a show at the theater, or grab dinner at one of SF's top restaurants.

On Christmas Day, you can visit some of SF's free attractions, enjoy lunch or dinner with the family, or stop by the Botanical Gardens for a free look at their lovely plants and flowers from around the world.

Here are just a few things to do this holiday season:

Dates: December 24 & 25

Learn More: Discover a Full List of Activities this Christmas in SF

4. Chronicle Wine Tasting Competition

The largest American wine competition each year is held in San Francisco in February. After the judges rate each wine and select the winners, they open the doors to the public for an afternoon of wine tasting.

You can sample the winners and also the wines they competed against. It's a fun way to learn more about wines throughout the U.S.

Date: February

Learn More: Find Out Details for this Year's Event

5. Giants Fan Fest

SF Fan Fest is a time to celebrate the fans. It's a day long event at Oracle Park that includes autograph sessions, a chance to take a picture with previous years' World Series trophies, and enjoy family friendly activities.

You can also buy single game tickets for the upcoming season and pick out some new gear before the season starts.

Date: February

Learn More: Visit the SF Giants Page for this Year's Details

6. Great Dickens Fair

The Great Dickens Fair is an event that will take you back to the time of Victorian London. For five weekends in November & December (plus the day after Thanksgiving), you can enjoy live entertainment, sample gourmet goodies, and find that perfect gift for a friend (or yourself!).

Date: November & December

Learn More: Visit the November Calendar for Details

7. Martin Luther King Jr. March & Festival

The annual MLK Jr. Festival is held on the Monday holiday. This one day event includes speeches from community leaders, a health & wellness festival, and a music festival.

The largest draw is the annual march, which starts just south of the Lefty O'Doul Bridge near Oracle Park.

The march crosses the bridge, stops for a few speeches along the way, and ends at the festival location.

Date: January

Learn More: Find this Year's Details

8. New Year's Eve

There is no better place to celebrate New Year's Eve than in San Francisco. On NYE, you will find a free fireworks show over the SF Bay, plenty of 21+ parties, and several dinner/dance cruises around the bay.

You will also discover several live music shows, theater performances, and other fun activities both day and night.

Date: December 31

Learn More: Find All of this Year's Events & Activities

9. Opera

The SF Opera performs during both November and December. Every year, you can see top performances such as The Barber of Seville and The Magic Flute. All shows are in the Civic Center District at the War Memorial Opera House.

Dates: November & December (Full Season September - December)

Learn More: Find the Full Opera Schedule

10. Pacific Orchid Exposition

See more than 150,000 orchids from around the world under one roof this February. The Pacific Orchid Exposition is one of the largest of its kind.

For three days, you get the chance to see these gorgeous flowers, learn how to tend to them during their workshops, and buy varieties you can't find anywhere else.

Date: February

Learn More: Visit the February Calendar for Details

11. San Francisco International Car Show

View next year's cars, vans, and SUV's models at the annual San Francisco International Car Show. Eleven of the top car manufacturers will be on hand to show off their new models, discuss technology enhancements, and give you a sneak peak on the future of cars.

Date: November

Learn More: Visit their Website to Learn More

12. SantaCon

Throw on your Santa gear and head out for a day of fun on the streets of San Francisco. This annual event is a non-political, non-violent gathering of thousands of Santas.

You can bring along toys to donate, enjoy drink specials at local bars, and mingle with other Santas.

Date: December

Learn More: Details for this Year's SantaCon

13. Santa Visits

Santa is coming to San Francisco and he is making several stops during his stay. You will find him at the Macy's Union Square and the San Francisco Zoo.

He will also make an appearance at the Ritz Carlton during their tree lighting ceremony and at the Fairmont Hotel during the unveiling of this year's gingerbread tree.

Use the link below to find a list of his planned stops this year.

Dates: November & December

Learn More: Find a List of Santa's Stops

14. SF Ballet's Nutcracker

The SF Ballet was the first company in the US to perform the Nutcracker in 1933. Today, this company offers several wonderful performances of this classic every December.

The first show starts in mid-December and the last show is usually on New Year's Eve.

Date: December

Learn More: Find the Schedule for this Year's Nutcracker Performances

15. Sketchfest

Enjoy two full weeks of comedy performances, skits, and more at this year's SF Sketchfest. You will find several shows each day during the festival.

It draws in big name comedians such as Margaret Cho, Kevin McDonald, and Janeane Garofalo. You will also find many popular local acts, as well as up-and-coming performers.

Date: January or February

Learn More: Full Festival Details for this Year

16. Thanksgiving Day Activities

Enjoy a cruise around the bay, a walk through top neighborhoods, or a day of family friendly fun this Thanksgiving in San Francisco. You will find a few of SF's top attractions open and plenty of places to grab brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Click the link below for what you can expect to see and do in SF on Thanksgiving Day and/or Weekend.

Date: November

Learn More: Thanksgiving Day Activities in SF

17. Theater Performances

You will find theater performances all year long in San Francisco. During the winter months, you will discover award winning productions such as Wicked, the Lion King, and the Book of Mormon.

You will also find performances at smaller theaters almost every night of the week.

Date: November - February

Learn More: SF Theater Calendar for the Year

18. Tree Lighting Ceremonies

Every November and December, you will find a number of tree lighting ceremonies and other holiday festivals. 

Other fun events this time of year include the lighting of the snowflakes along Market Street, the unveiling of the Sugar Tree in the Westin St. Francis in Union Square, and the lighting of the Tree of Hope in City Hall.

Dates: November & December

Learn More: Find a Full List of Celebrations Every Year

19. Valentine's Day

Spoil your sweetie with a trip to San Francisco for Valentine's Day. You will find special dinner cruises on the bay, theater performances, and other romantic activities.

Each year, there is something new to experience. Click the link below for information on the events planned this Valentine's Day in SF.

Date: February

Learn More: Visit the Valentine's Day Page for More Details

20. ZAP Wine Festival

The ZAP Wine Festival features the best Zinfandel wines from around the world. Most of the wines are from local producers just to the north, east, and south of San Francisco.

You can sample wines from top regions such as Dry Creek Valley, Lodi, and the Central Valley. It's a great way to learn more about this often misunderstood wine and maybe even find a new favorite.

Date: late January or early February

Learn More: Visit the ZAP Page for More Details

Winter Events in San Francisco: Top Things to Do All Season Long

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

I would love for you to join me in my private Facebook group

It's a great place to interact with me and others who know the area well.

You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It's a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!

Come join the fun here!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Exclusive Member of Mediavine Travel

Copyright © 2009-2024 by All rights reserved.

This website does not sell any personal information. (See privacy policy)