Christmas Events in San Francisco

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Published Dec 3, 2015

San Francisco, an always-brilliant city, will be even more beautiful in just a few short weeks as holiday cheer spreads through our fine city!

Best Kids Christmas Events in San Francisco 

SF Zoo Lights

When: December 4-6, 9-13, 18-23, January 1-3 

Come enjoy the Zoo under twinkling lights and experience the wonder of the holiday season. This year's Zoo Lights will include the brand new South American Tropical Rainforest and Aviary (which is a pretty warm indoor spot), the Little Puffer Steam Train and our new Station Café (formerly known as Terrace Café). Nightly shows and costume characters near the Elinor Friend Playground.

Santa Comes to Town

When: December 5 at City Hall

Co-sponsored by the City of South San Francisco, the Chamber of Commerce, and Kiwanis Club, Santa arrives on an SSF Fire Truck, accompanied by the Mayor and other Council members. Children will have the opportunity to meet and talk to Santa, assisted by Mrs. Santa and the elves. Each child will receive a printed digital photo of themselves with Santa, a cookie, and hot chocolate. 

Holiday Ice Skating

When: Multiple sessions Daily until January 18 at Union Square

Enjoy skating outdoors at Union Square. Several 90-minute sessions daily, with skate rentals available.

Kids Day at The Guardsmen Christmas Tree Lot

When: December 4th at the Guardsmen Tree Lot

Please join us at the Tree Lot for Kids’ day on Friday, December 4th from 2-7:30pm. Activities include arts and crafts, cookie decorating, multiple bounce-houses music! All ages are welcome, and complementary snacks and beverages will be provided.

Fantasy of Lights Christmas Celebration

When: December 5th on Union Street

Union Street kicks off its annual Fantasy of Lights Holiday celebration, where young and old alike can enjoy festivities to begin the holiday season. Thousands of holiday lights set off the Victorians, transforming Union Street into a magical backdrop for Santa and a team of elves to celebrate along with jugglers, live ponies dressed as reindeer, face painters, balloon artists, costumed characters, singers and live entertainment.

Friends of Larkin Street - 6th Annual Ice Skating Party

When: December 8 at Justin Herman Plaza

Enjoy festive holiday snacks, music to "conga" to! Skate rentals are ready to go so you can join us on the ice rink! This is an adult-oriented event, but all proceeds from the event will benefit Larkin Street Youth Services programs for homeless and at-risk youth.

Fisherman’s Wharf Lighted Boat Parade

When: December 11 at Fisherman's Wharf

At 6pm on December 11, The Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District and the St. Francis Yacht Club will join once again to present the oldest and largest lighted holiday boat parade on San Francisco Bay. More than 60 boats, each festooned with lights and holiday decorations, will parade along the waterfront.

15th Annual African American Art & Culture Complex Holiday Fair

When: December 12-13 at the African American Art & Culture Complex

The 15th Annual African American Art & Culture Complex Holiday Fair is the largest and longest-running holiday gathering of its kind in San Francisco’s historically African-American Fillmore District. Each year, carnival rides, fun games, meals and over 2500 free toys are proved to hundreds of San Francisco’s most underserved children and families.

Mbongui Square Festival of the Arts

When: December 12-13 at Zaccho Studio's Center for Dance and Aerial ARts

Mbongui Square, an annual community festival organized by Kiandanda Dance Theater, is a gathering of dance, music, visual arts and spoken word artists of various styles from the Bay Area and around the world. This festival, launched in 2012, came from the desire to reinforce the notion of community through the arts.

Parol Lantern Festival and Parade

When: December 12, multiple locations

The festival begins with a series of parol lantern-making workshops held at the Bayanihan Community Center and are still going on. Parol workshops are open to the public. The parols made during these workshops are then displayed during our anticipated parade & festival held in Yerba Buena Lane, Jessie Square and St. Patrick’s Church. This year, we expect marchers from over 25 local organizations to gather for a lively parade and festival which includes performances, community presentations and the annual Tala Awards for the best parol lanterns.

San Francisco Youth Ballet Presents The 15th Annual Performance of The Nutcracker

When: December 12-13 (3 shows) at Mercy High School Theatre

Join us as SFYBT celebrate its 15th annual performance of "The Nutcracker" This magical, full-length version of The Nutcracker features Bernadette Torres, Carlo DiDio, former Principal dancers with the California Ballet Company and the wonderful talent from the San Francisco Youth Ballet Academy.

Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets

When: December 12-22 (several shows) at the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason Center

Mark Foehringer Dance Project|SF presents its seventh annual holiday production of Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets, a unique 50-minute version of the Nutcracker specifically designed for families with young children. The production features a live 9-piece chamber orchestra, Brian Fisher as Drosselmeyer, musical direction by Michael Morgan, set design by Peter Crompton, costume design by Richard Battle, lighting design by Patrick Hajduk and production direction by Frederic O. Boulay. 

History for Half Pints: Crafts for the Holiday Season

When: December 12 at the California Historical Society

Join us and ring in the holiday season with our History for Half Pints Family Program! Craft holiday cards for your friends and family and design a cork ornament! Help families in need by bringing in a toy or toiletry in support of the organization, La Casa de las Madres.

Holiday Crafts Day

When: December 12 at Mission art Center 

Kids can create one-of-a-kind hand-made gifts and items to decorate their homes. Learn how to roll your own beeswax candles and make handmade lip balm, then sweeten the season by creating create a candy house with marshmallow and gumdrop chimneys, licorice doors and peppermint siding!

River Otter Holidays at Aquarium of the Bay

When: December 16-23 at Aquarium of the Bay

For nearly 2 weeks, Aquarium of the Bay’s three resident river otters will join in the holiday festivities. From treat stuffed stockings, festive trees, gift-wrapped toys, and even snow, Shasta, Baxter, and Ryer will delight in this seasonally fitting treat to end the year.

South San Francisco Civic Ballet's Nutcracker

When: December 19-20 (musltiple shows) at El Camino High School

The City of South San Francisco's Department of Parks and Recreation proudly presents "The South San Francisco Civic Ballet's Nutcracker". Join us in the Little Theater at El Camino High School for a holiday performance featuring elegant costuming and choreography from boys and girls of all ages under the artistic direction of Maria Spremich.

Christmas Carols Sing-along and Reception

When: December 19 at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation

Join organist Vaughn Jones and the choir of Incarnation Episcopal Church in the annual ‘Festival of Lessons and Carols,’ service. Experience the joy and mystery of Jesus’ birth in the retelling of the story interwoven with carols. There will be both choir anthems as well as sing-along carols.

Community Free Day at The Contemporary Jewish Museum

When: Christmas Day at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

The Museum’s Community Day on Christmas is an admission-free, fun-for-all extravaganza that has become an annual tradition for Bay Area families. Explore the galleries, get creative in the Maker Art Lab Studio inspired by the exhibition NEAT: New Experiments in Art and Technology, and move and groove to the live music of Alison Faith Levy and her Big Time Tot Rock Band!

For more wonderful Christmas Events in San Francisco visit - an amazing resource for parents to find all the best events and resources in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area!

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Francesca Stahl

Written by Francesca Stahl

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