Holiday Activities » San Francisco, CA

Holiday Activities in San Francisco, CA

The city by the bay is packed with more than fog during the jolliest season of the year, with twinkling lights, visits from Santa and these must-see holiday activities in San Francisco, CA.
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Fairy Winterland

For more than a week every December, Fairyland is transformed into a winter wonderland of holiday activities. Special hours give you plenty of time to explore winter holidays of many cultures, from Christmas to Chanukah to Kwanzaa and more through songs, stories, arts and crafts. The less than $10 admission gets you special holiday entertainment in the form of storytelling, magic, puppet shoes, a Festival of Lights Parade every evening,  and a day filled with merry memories your family won’t soon forget. The park can get chilly, so bundle up and be sure to check the weather before you go; the park is only opened weather-permitting.

Gingerbread House at the Fairmont Hotel

Annually starting the weekend after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, the Fairmont San Francisco will make your mouth water with their 22-foot tall gingerbread house adorned with candy, icing and smooth chocolate. This sweet structure is created from 7,500 baked gingerbread bricks then held together with 1,200 pounds of royal icing and trimmed with 650 pounds of candies and 12 gallons of chocolate. You can walk around and through the life-sized, multi-room structure so make sure you stop in the special room designated for kiddos to write letters to Santa himself. While you’re there, be sure to stop by the main lobby to gaze upon the 23-food Christmas tree, enjoy some holiday refreshments and relax to the harmonies of carolers from local schools.

Fisherman’s Wharf Holiday Festival of Lights

For more than a month during the holiday season, San Francisco’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf sparkles brightly in the night, adorned with festive lights, Christmas sights and holiday entertainment. Spanning from Pier 39 to Ghirardelli Square, festive décor lines the inner and outer lagoons, lighting the way to the Wharf’s major shopping centers and world famous eateries. Start your journey at the Christmas tree beneath the Fisherman’s Warf sign and make your way through the Dickens Carolers at Anchorage Square and score face time with Santa and his elves at Boudin Bakery. Be sure to stop into Ghirardelli Square to check out the holiday-inspired red and green Ghirardelli Light Bulb Sign, 35-foot tree and 9-foot Menorah. And, wander through Pier 39 for a glimpse at their 60-foot tree and yuletide atmosphere.

Holidays with the San Francisco Symphony

Each year at Davies Symphony Hall, this musical venue comes alive with the sights and sounds of the season, with a mix of concerts and sing-alongs that give the holiday a merry tone. Throughout the month of December, the San Francisco Symphony’s holiday series boasts an annual performance of Peter and the Wolf by the Youth Orchestra as well as various performances such as a Mexican Christmas Night by Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez, concerts by the symphony and the San Francisco Symphony’s Chorus, a holiday sing-along around Christmas Eve and more. On New Year’s Eve, the Holiday Series goes out with a bang with the Masquerade Ball with the San Francisco Symphony.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair brings Victorian London to the states as Cow Palace transforms into a 120,000-square-foot stage. Music halls, pubs, charming shops and dance parties bring the imagination of Charles Dickens, Jules Verne and Lewis Carroll to life as the lamp-lit city overflows with holiday cheer as you interact with characters and shop for handmade holiday finds. Visitors are encouraged to dress the part, and are commonly adorned in anything from Victorian wears to Edwardian apparel. You can partake in the merriment during weekends, starting the Friday after Thanksgiving through mid-December and even buy your tickets online. Just be sure to bring cash as vendors do not take cards and ATM lines can get long. However, stores do accept many forms of plastic.