What are the best holiday events in San Francisco?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Katie Sweeney

San Francisco is a beautiful place to celebrate the December holidays. There are several brilliant Christmas trees on display. The first is in Union Square, which is transformed into an ice skating rink. The second is at Pier 39. When I was growing up, my family would always visit this massive tree. You can enjoy a bowl of clam chowder or an ice cream sundae at one of the shops nearby. The Embarcadero also has its own ice skating rink, one that is a little larger than the Union Square rink. Local hotels get in on the holiday spirit, too. The Grand Hyatt has a massive hanging light display and miniature train exhibit, while the The Fairmont is home to an extraordinary life size gingerbread house. Of course, no holiday season should pass without a show and San Francisco Ballet's rendition of The Nutcracker is superb. The American Conservatory Theater's annual production of A Christmas Carol is another great show that is not to be missed.

Kimberley Lovato

Holidays are magical in San Francisco and there's nothing that ignites the Christmas spirit like a tree lighting. San Francisco has a few too.  Pier 39 and Santa always draw a crowd, and the Union Square tree lighitng is a popular San Francisco outing, and ice skating in the square lasts until January. The Ghiradelli Square tree lighting is usually accompanied by music and other holiday cheer, and the hot chocolate is amazing! 

On Christmas Eve, 1944, the audience at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House experienced the American premiere of Nutcracker ballet, and it has been a San Francisco holiday institution ever since.

Many of the large hotels like The Palace Hotel and The Fairmont,  deck the halls and their gorgeous lobbies with holiday cheer and are fun places to celebrate the season.

And Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill impresses any time of year, but most especially during Christmas with several events and concerts.

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