San Francisco City Hall illuminated in Christmas colors

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May 2, 2022
San Francisco City Hall illuminated in Christmas colors

9 Must-Sees in San Francisco This Holiday Season

This holiday season, San Francisco's gate is open and there's never been a better time to visit! Hotels and airfare are more affordable than other times of the year, and there's no shortage of things to do. Here are just 9 of the can't-miss holiday events coming to San Francisco in 2022.

See A Tree

San Francisco loves the holidays so much that it can’t limit itself to a single giant Christmas tree. There are actually dozens, including Macy’s soaring tree in Union Square, an officially nondenominational tree at City Hall, another majestic tree at PIER 39, and the largest holiday tree in the Bay Area at Thrive City outside Chase Center. Lightings, concerts, and other events will be scheduled soon. Don't forget that you can strap on your skates beneath the Union Square tree. An ice rink will be constructed for the season.

Marvel at Museums

San Francisco's world-famous cultural institutions don't slow down during the holidays. This season, you can see the career retrospectives of Joan Mitchell at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and Judy Chicago at the de Young Museum. Look back on the inspiration and impact of writer and musician Leonard Cohen at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Or experience the interactive wonder of TeamLAB at the Asian Art Museum

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See What's on Stage

San Francisco's theaters will have plenty of top-notch productions to see this holiday season. The Tony Award-winning production of "Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations" plays the Golden Gate Theatre from Nov. 26 to Dec. 26. The hilarious 80s homage "BratPack!", at Feinstein's at the Nikko, will have you wishing you were back in the era of leg warmers and shoulder pads. And the legendary Club Fugazi now hosts "Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Love Story," which celebrates all the wonder and beauty of the City by the Bay with some awe-inspiring acrobatics.

Enjoy the Dance

The contemporary ODC Dance Company presents its own holiday tradition, "The Velveteen Rabbit," Dec. 4-21 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The annual production celebrates the special bond between a little boy and his stuffed rabbit in this interpretation of the beloved children's tale. For another classic tale, visit the San Francisco Ballet for their production of "The Nutcracker," Dec. 10-30.

Get Illuminated

Light art will brighten block after block of San Francisco from Thanksgiving Day to New Year's Day for the Illuminate SF Festival of Light. The annual display includes dozens of dramatic, eco-friendly light art installations that are accessible by public transit and admission-free. Notable installations include "Love Over Rules" in SoMa, "The Seed" in the Castro, and "Entwined" in Golden Gate Park. Many of San Francisco’s neighborhoods will also light up shopping districts, streets and galleries, and host participatory holiday activities.

Ride the SkyStar Wheel

Standing 15 stories tall, the state-of-the-art SkyStar Observation Wheel features 36 enclosed, well-ventilated gondolas, boasting unparalleled views that span the city. From its heights, you'll be able to see all the greenery of Golden Gate Park, the churning Pacific Ocean to the west, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz to the north, and the twinkling holiday lights on the skyscrapers of downtown to the east. Tickets are available for purchase and may be reserved by ordering online at skystarwheel.com.

Explore San Francisco with Big Bus

Tight on time? The best way to see the city is aboard Big Bus. Their hop-on, hop-off routes take you to all the major sights and attractions. During the holiday season, take their special Holiday Lights tour. You'll see San Francisco's festive holiday trees, trimmings, and twinkling lights. Enjoy jovial jingles along with a complimentary seasonal treat from Ghirardelli Chocolate.

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Explore Thrive City's Noon Year's Eve

Looking for family fun on New Year’s Eve? You’re in luck. Head to Thrive City Noon Year’s Eve from 11 a.m to 1:30pm and ring in the new year with the Music of Grateful Dead for Kids and more, presented by the Rock and Roll Playhouse. Enjoy a very special NYE drop at 11:59 a.m., face painting, games, a crafting zone, performers, and holiday treats. Tickets are currently sold out, but more are likely to become available.

Ring in the New Year

If you're looking for something even more sparkly, consider staying in San Francisco for New Year's Eve. Noon Year’s Eve at Thrive City in the afternoon.

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