How to Enjoy San Francisco's Diverse Holiday Celebrations
From Christmas to Kwanzaa, Hanukkah to Hedonism, San Francisco is the kind of city where the holidays are celebrated with a diversity found nowhere else in the country. No matter who you are, where you hail from or what you believe, you will be welcomed here in the City by the Bay with open arms and an invitation to join in on our extensive holiday celebrations. Check out our favorite picks of these holiday happenings. There is something for everyone!
Santa Con SF
Here in San Francisco, we take the "Saint" right out of "Saint Nick" by dressing up as old Kris Kringle himself, parading around town and then going on an extensive bar crawl through the city’s top drinking dens. Meet up at Union Square on Dec. 9 at noon to get in on the wildness. Almost 10,000 people showed up last year!
The Dance-Along Nutcracker
The 20th annual production of this San Francisco tradition takes place on Dec. 10 at the Yerba Buena Gardens Center for the Arts. Join the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band as they parody Tchaikovsky’s famous Nutcracker Suite, and be prepared to shake your own rump when the “Dance Along” signs lights up.
Kwanzaa in the Bayview
Come celebrate community and faith in the Bayview neighborhood at the annual Village Project Kwanzaa celebration. Running for seven days (Dec. 26, 2017 through Jan. 1, 2018), this annual festival features music from Fillmore Slim and Sista Iminah, among others, as well as a slew of other performances.
Hanukkah in Union Square
From Dec. 12 to Dec. 19, there will be candle lighting ceremonies on a giant mahogany menorah in Union Square to celebrate Hanukkah, which commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in the Jewish tradition. On Dec. 17, join in on the all-day, all-ages fun as a variety of festivities, including kids crafts and reggae bands, take over Union Square completely.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
A true San Francisco tradition that is fun for the whole family, the San Francisco Symphony hosts live actors and an animated backdrop to bring to life the Peanuts crew and all their holiday shenanigans. The show runs the week before Christmas and takes place at the magical Davies Symphony Hall in the Civic Center.
Parol Lantern Festival and Parade
Held at the Yerba Buena Gardens every holiday season for the past 15 years, the Parol Lantern Festival and Parade on the evening of Dec. 9 is one of the largest Filipino American celebrations in the Bay Area. Live bands, delicious home-cooked food and a colorful competition of handmade lanterns round out the event. For those who want to try their hands at making a lantern themselves, workshops are held in the weeks leading up to the event at the Bayanihan Community Center on Mission Street.
San Francisco Bazaar Holiday Nightlife
A handmade arts market, indie music fest and DIY extravaganza all under one roof, the San Francisco Bazaar showcases all that is uniquely San Francisco and is the perfect place to shop for those loved ones back home. Taking place at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park on Dec. 14, this event mixes shopping and nightlife in one fun-filled holiday-themed party not to be missed.
Join in this impromptu procession of everything from boom boxes to smartphones playing an original composition by Philip Kline meant to spark up the holiday spirit. Originating in New York City and now taking place around the world, San Francisco’s own Unsilent Night takes place in Dolores Park on Dec. 9 at 5 p.m.
The Santa Skivvies Run
Get into your sexiest red and green undies and take a one mile run through the Castro District to raise money for AIDS treatment and research in this sexy holiday tradition. The Santa Skivvies Run starts at 11 a.m. on Dec. 10 at the Lookout Bar and ends at the Santa Village Block Party, where you can dance the afternoon away in your undies as well.
Kung Pao Kosher Comedy
Serving up Jewish comedy in a Chinese restaurant is about as San Francisco as it gets and in fact, the Kung Pao Kosher Comedy show is the City by the Bay’s longest running comedy show ever. Taking place at the New Asia Restaurant in Chinatown, Dec. 23-25, this event will knock your socks off with laughs and fill your belly with real Chinese fare at the same time. www.koshercomedy.com
Elfstravaganza: Making the North Pole Gay Again
Just when you thought the holidays couldn’t get any more San Francisco, along comes Elfstravaganza. Put on by the internationally acclaimed San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, this outburst of fabulous holiday spirit takes place at the Nourse Theater on Dec. 8 and 9 only.