San Francisco City Hall lit for the holidays.

7 Must-Sees in San Francisco this Holiday Season

Here are nine can't-miss holiday events coming to San Francisco in 2023.

It's always memorable, always magical, always San Francisco!

Come spend some time in the City by the Bay this holiday season. Hotels and airfare are more affordable than other times of the year, and there's no shortage of things to do. Here are just 7 of the can't-miss holiday events coming to San Francisco in 2023.

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 solo debut exhibition of Takashi Murakami at the Asian Art Museum; monumental sculpture by Yayoi Kasuma at SFMOMA; and bold new works by local artists at the de Young Museum and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

More Arts & Culture

See What's On Stage

San Francisco's theaters will have plenty of top-notch productions to see this holiday season. The American Conservatory Theater brings back its fan-favorite production of "A Christmas Carol" (Dec. 6-24); "The Lion King" roars to life on the stage of Orpheum Theater (through Dec. 30);  and the legendary Club Fugazi 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. 2-10 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. 13-30.

Get Illuminated

Light art will brighten block after block of San Francisco from Thanksgiving to January 31 for the Illuminate SF Festival of Light. The annual display includes dozens of dramatic, eco-friendly light art installations 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. You can even win an Illuminate prize package, which includes a two-night stay in San Francisco!

Enter to Win

Large-scale flowers glow in multicolor lights at Entwined, an Illuminate SF exhibit.

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.

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Ring in the New Year

If you're looking for something even more sparkly, consider staying in San Francisco for New Year's Eve

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Dan Rosenbaum Headshot
Dan Rosenbaum

Dan is the Vice President, Global Marketing, at San Francisco Travel. San Francisco has been his home for over a decade (that makes him a local, right?). On the weekends, you can find him with a cup of craft coffee in hand, a playlist of good vibes, a growing list of books to read, or out at the city's hottest new restaurant or bar.