14 Fun & Festive Holiday Experiences in SF

The reasons to gather with family and friends at festive holiday events are obvious. And this year, San Francisco is finally back with activities aplenty. From ice skating rinks and pop-up bars to philanthropic events and theatrical performances, there are events for all types of adventurers. To help navigate the holiday season, we put together a simple summary of a few amazing activities that embrace the spirit of the season in The Bay.


Three Deck the Halls Pop-up Bars
November 25th through December 25th
These three locations feature holiday themed beverages and food offerings, along with selfie and social media stations. Get a free order of tater tots with any donation of an unopened gift for Toys for Tots.
* Outré at 1787 Union Street: Monday-Friday 4pm to 12am, Saturday & Sunday 11am to 12am.
* Deck the Halls Flagship at 1853 Union Street: Daily, 4pm to 2am.
* The Blue Light (1979 Union Street): Monday-Friday, 4pm to 2am, Saturday & Sunday, 11am to 2am.

Sunset Holiday Mercantile & 2nd Annual Holiday Lights Stroll
December 3rd & 4th at SF County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park
The free, two-day indoor / outdoor market features local vendors and entertainment; each day from 11am to 5pm. Makers, merchants, artists, food artisans, food trucks, and many children’s activities will all be on display. There will also be live music, storytelling, community causes, plus beer and wine tasting. The Inner Sunset neighborhood will be decorated with lights on December 3rd from 5pm – 8pm.

“Sugar Castle” 2022 at the Westin St. Francis
November 23rd through January 2nd at the Westin St. Francis
A 12-foot tall castle made of more than 1,000 pounds of sugar and gingerbread is a stunning site to see in person. Escape the cold, is it really ever cold in SF?, inside the Westin St. Francis, in the lobby. The unveiling takes place on November 23rd at 11am and will remain on display through the New Year.

SF Symphony’s 2022 Holiday Concert Season
December 4rd through 31st at Davies Symphony Hall
A festive array of concerts is scheduled by the symphony. Buy tickets to see performances of traditional Christmas classical music, family-friendly events, holiday-themed film presentations, or one of the guest artists. Highlights include a film plus orchestra rendition of The Grinch Stole Christmas and a performance by Harry Connick Jr. and his band.

San Francisco SantaCon 2022
Saturday, December 10th
One of the more popular traditions gives people opportunity to dress as Santa Claus, making moves from bar to bar throughout the city. SantaCon takes place at many cities across the United States, and the San Francisco edition has some of the most spirit.

The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink at Union Square
November 3rd through January 17th
Get your winter skate on at the iconic outdoor ice rink, which returns to Union Square through the New Year. Skaters are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance. General admission, including skate rental, is $20, and children ages 8 and under are $15.

Holidays in the Presidio
103 Montgomery St.
The Presidio is a former U.S. Army post that’s been transformed. During winter, the mild climate gives visitors an easy way to explore the outdoors. With miles of hiking and biking trails, the park has stunning overlooks and access to uncrowded beaches. Those looking for overnight experience should consider the cozy Lodge or Inn. Dining and holiday shopping, followed by a cup of hot chocolate beside a firepit. Rustic and city rarely pair so well.

10th Annual “Illuminate SF” Festival of Light
November 9th through January around San Francisco
The city will transform into a night gallery with 62 temporary and permanent light art installations. The self-guided tour begins and ends at 5M, a new mixed-use district in SoMa that has transformed four acres of parking lots and underutilized buildings into a vibrant community. Many of the installations are walking distance of one another, making it easy to see multiple works by creators worldwide.

Macy’s 36th Annual Holiday Windows featuring San Francisco SPCA
November 18th through January 1st
Puppies, dogs, kittens, and cats will be viewable on the main floor of the Macy’s store to encourage adoptions. This classic holiday tradition fills all our hearts with cuteness overload. Take a peak through the glass or come inside to enjoy a holiday photo installation located on the Lower Level of the Macy’s store.

Pop-Up Outdoor Roller Disco for Winter 2022
November 2nd through December 31st at Civic Center
San FranDISCO is a project by San Francisco’s notorious “Church of 8 Wheels.” The event offers 90-minute skating sessions up to three times per day. The schedule occurs on even hours: 12noon – 1:30pm, 2pm – 3:30pm and 4pm – 5:30pm. There is also one 120-minute session from 6pm – 8pm. The rink is available reserve for private parties on days outside of the regular schedule. Tickets to the rink are $15 for adults (18 and up) and $5 for youth.

The Guardsmen Holiday Tree Lot
November 26th through December 18th at Fort Mason
This longstanding Tradition goes far beyond buying a Christmas tree for a cause. It started back in 1947 as a benefit for at-risk youth in the Bay Area. Pickup ornaments and enjoy adult beverages as you stroll though the massive indoor space filled with trees and holiday cheer.

Intermediate Chorus and Handbells of the San Francisco Boys Chorus
December 10th at the Incarnation Episcopal Church, 1750 29th Ave.
Enjoy the soothing sounds of the San Francisco Boys Chorus as they present a program of carols and holiday songs. Hosted by the Sunset Music and the Arts, this 4pm concert will touch the heartstrings by spanning emotions associated with winter, celebrations, times past, and times present. The performance will include César Franck’s Panis Angelicus along with traditional winter songs played by bells.

A Christmas Carol
November 30th through December 24th at The Toni Rembe Theater
One of the most traditional stories of the holiday season is A Christmas Carol, originally written by the great Charles Dickens.. The American Conservatory Theater hosts nearly an entire month of performances of this classic play. The performance has been adapted by Carey Perloff and Paul Walsh, with music by Karl Lundeberg and choreography by Val Caniparoli, and directed by Peter J. Kuo.

Smuin Contemporary Ballet presents “The Christmas Ballet”
December 14th through December 24th at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Smuin Ballet showcases exquisite signature style in a dazzling program of ballet, contemporary, character, Broadway jazz, and tap in two acts. The show has a two-hour runtime, including intermission. Each performance is brimming with sublime classical ballet set to carols and showstopping contemporary works danced to pop music favorites.

Written by Carlos Olin Montalvo

Follow me @carlosolin

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