San Francisco Festivals and Holiday Events – December


San Francisco City Hall lit up in Christmas colors.

San Francisco City Hall lights up for the holidays

Reindeer Romp
On-going until January 2017

The San Francisco Zoo invites you to it annual holiday tradition. Get the chance to see real reindeers in action – these majestic creatures can be viewed at the zoo until January 2017. The reindeers, all adults, are named Holly, Peppermint, and Belle. Click here to see footage of these fantastic creatures. The trio can be found at Playfield Lawn.

The Velveteen Rabbit
November 25 – December 10, 2017

ODC/Dance, formerly the Oberlin Dance Collective, brings the tale of The Velveteen Rabbit to life at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater. The dance company’s retelling of this holiday classic will keep you glued to your seats. Discover local talent, admire the dancers’ colorful costumes, and get swept away by the gripping narrative.

Click here to buy tickets.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair
November 18- December 17, 2017

This December, the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls will transport you to Charles Dickens’ London – watch the three-acre exhibition space transform into Victorian era pubs and tea rooms. Dance with costumed players, watch seasoned performers enact the English writer’s best-known stories, and enjoy amazing food and drinks.

Click here to buy tickets.

A Christmas Carol
December 1 – 24, 2017

Watch a live adaptation of this holiday classic at the American Conservatory Theater. A Bay Area tradition, the company’s seasoned performers will give you a memorable evening. Experience this Charles Dickens tale like never before – talented actors and elaborate sets will infuse this old Christmas favorite with new energy.

Click here for more information.

Holidays at the Mark
December 4 – 31, 2017

Celebrate the holidays in style at the Top of the Mark Intercontinental Hotel. They have several events lined up for December, including Holiday High Tea, Children’s Magical Tea, Holiday Brunch, Christmas Eve & Day, and New Year’s Eve.

Choose from the finest selection of teas, scones, finger sandwiches, and mini pastries. Enjoy live entertainment, scrumptious food, and exceptional service.

Children’s Magical Tea attendees are encouraged to bring a brand new, unwrapped toy to be donated to the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Drive.

Visit the hotel’s website for more details.

Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz
November 25 – December 23, 2017

Bring the kids to the Ritz-Carlton’s Terrace Room for some hot chocolate, teddy bear-shaped cookies, and finger sandwiches. An elf, his trusty sidekick, and a life-size teddy bear will put on a fun show. Each child will receive a stuffed bear and a photo with the giant teddy bear as a souvenir.

Buy tickets here.

Cable Car Caroling
December 2, 2017

This long-running SF tradition continues in December – hundreds of carolers on motorized cables will sing holiday songs to seniors and differently-abled adults. This year’s theme, “From Generation to Generation,” celebrates this event’s three-decade existence.

The event raised more than $100,000 in 2016. Cable Car Caroling funds help support the Friendship Line, the Institute on Aging’s crisis call center for isolated seniors and adults with disabilities.

Click here for event details.

San Francisco Symphony Holiday Concerts
December 3 – 31, 2017

Come to Davies Symphony Hall for a series of holiday concerts that the whole family will enjoy. The series kicks off with Holiday Brass – listen to the SFS brass section play a mix of popular and classical holiday music.

The SFS chorus’ rendition of Handel’s “Messiah” will leave you breathless, while the live adaptation of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Click here for the full schedule.

Christmas concerts at Grace Cathedral
December 9 – 23, 2017

The Christmas concerts at Grace Cathedral have been a beloved SF tradition since 1947. This year, American Bach Soloists will bring you an unforgettable performance of Handel’s “Messiah” while the Bay Brass will play holiday music. There will also be sing-along shows for children and families.

Click here for the schedule of events.

Ardenwood Christmas Open House
Dates unconfirmed

The two-day open house at Ardenwood Historic Farm brings you Victorian-inspired décor and hands-on activities for the whole family. Attendees can look forward to Christmas carolers and horticulture exhibits.

Other December highlights include a wreath-making workshop and day time Christmas tours of the Patterson House.

Click here for the calendar of activities.

Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train
December2-3, 9-10, and 16-23

A convoy of vintage cars, decorated with colorful Christmas lights, will roll through the streets of Santa Cruz with Santa Claus in tow. Listen to live music and drink some hot cider during the festivities. The convoy departs from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Click here for details.

Gilroy Gardens Holiday@Night
December 1-3, 8-10, 15-23, and 26-31, 2017

Come to Gilroy Garden for some ice skating and live entertainment under strings of twinkling lights. Santa will be there to greet the kids, and there will be turkey for the family to enjoy. You can also ride the miniature train around the park for an unforgettable evening.

Click here for more info.

Living LEGO-cy: Holiday Train Display
Dates unconfirmed

The Museum of American Heritage (MOAH) in Palo Alto will unveil its annual LEGO holiday display in December. Admire LEGO creations by club members – the display traditionally features a functioning train layout, as well as recreations of famous SF landmarks.

Get updates here.

The San JoseNutcracker
December 14-24, 2017

Ballet San Jose, in partnership with History San Jose, tells the story of “The Nutcracker” with references to Santa Clara Valley’s history and development. This re-telling of the classic holiday story is unique to San Jose. The show will feature musical accompaniment from the New Ballet Orchestra for the first time this year.

Click here to buy tickets.

Snow Day in the Gourmet Ghetto
December 3, 2017

Snow is expected to fall in Berkeley in early December – guests are invited to play in the snow on Shattuck Avenue, between Vine and Rose streets. Don’t forget to wear boots and mittens.

Kids can tell the Snow Queen their wishes, as well as ride ponies and make DIY arts and crafts projects at the event. Grown-ups can check out the local vendors and hunt for one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts.

Click here for more information.

Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton
November 30, 2017

This highly anticipated community event kicks off the holiday season at the Ritz-Carlton. Watch Santa Clause illuminate the 40-foot Christmas tree just outside the hotel, alongside his little helper from Make-A-Wish® Greater Bay. The ceremony will take place at sundown.

Click here for the Ritz-Carlton’s calendar of evens

32ndOakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Holiday Concert
December 2, 2017

The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, with special guests Kev Choice and Logan McWilliams, brings you a night of music and holiday cheer. Levar Burton of “Star Trek: Next Generation” fame will host the program. The show begins at 7:00 p.m.

Click here for more details on the event.

Other holiday events:

Noe Valley Holiday Wine Walk – December 7, 2017

Lighted Yacht Parade – December 2, 2017

Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios – November 25–26, December 2–3, 9–10, 16–17, and 18–24, 2017

Union Street Fantasy of Lights – December 2, 2017

Christmas in the Park Annual Tree Lighting – Downtown San Jose – November 24, 2017