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The Best San Francisco Events in December

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San Francisco Events in December

Things to do in December

As the holiday season approaches and the city comes alive with twinkling lights and festive cheer, December in San Francisco offers a plethora of events and activities for friends and family to enjoy together. From ice skating to light festivals, the City by the Bay knows how to make December a month to remember. So grab your coats and scarves, and start planning your San Francisco holiday adventures!



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Top December Events in San Francisco

Union Square Ice Skating
A quintessential San Francisco holiday tradition, the Union Square Ice Rink opens in November and continues through January. The ice rink, located in the heart of downtown, provides a festive atmosphere surrounded by iconic landmarks, dazzling holiday lights, and decked-out store windows. It’s an ideal spot for family outings, friendly gatherings, or a romantic date night.

Illuminate SF Festival of Light
Returning from November and continuing through December, the Illuminate SF Festival of Light features over 40 stunning light displays and installations scattered throughout the city. Grab your friends and family and explore the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, all illuminated with captivating works of art that will leave you in awe of San Francisco’s creative spirit.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair
Step back in time and immerse yourself in the world of Charles Dickens at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. Held at the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, this annual event transforms the venue into a Victorian-era wonderland, complete with costumed characters, festive food and drink, and unique gift vendors. It’s a perfect way to celebrate the season while experiencing a bit of history with your loved ones.

Nutcracker Ballet at the San Francisco Ballet
A cherished holiday tradition, the San Francisco Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker is a must-see for all ages. With its enchanting story, mesmerizing choreography, and exquisite costumes, this ballet is a magical way to celebrate the season. The world-class dancers and live orchestra make for an unforgettable evening at the beautiful War Memorial Opera House.

Lighted Boat Parade
The annual Lighted Boat Parade at Fisherman’s Wharf is a spectacular sight not to be missed. This dazzling event features a flotilla of boats adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations, creating a stunning display on the water. Bundle up and enjoy this unique San Francisco tradition with friends and family as you watch the parade from the waterfront.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations
Ring in the New Year with various events happening all around San Francisco. From the famous fireworks display over the Bay to themed parties at clubs, bars, and hotels, there are plenty of options for celebrating with friends and family. Whether you’re looking for an elegant gala or a lively dance party, San Francisco has something to offer for everyone on New Year’s Eve.

December in San Francisco is a fantastic month for friends and family to come together and enjoy a variety of events and activities. With holiday celebrations, dazzling light displays, and festive traditions, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in the City by the Bay. So bundle up, gather your loved ones, and make the most of December in San Francisco!


Important Dates and Holidays in December

Hanukkah (dates vary) – Hanukkah, also known as Chanukah, is an eight-day Jewish festival that usually falls in December. It commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days. Celebrations include lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, and enjoying traditional foods like latkes and sufganiyot (delicious doughnuts similar to beignets).

Christmas Day (December 25th) – Christmas Day is a federal holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is observed on December 25th each year and is a time for families and friends to gather, exchange gifts, and enjoy festive meals. Christmas traditions include decorating homes with lights and ornaments, displaying nativity scenes, and singing carols.

Kwanzaa (December 26th to January 1st) – Kwanzaa is a week-long African American and Pan-African holiday that celebrates African heritage, unity, and culture. It was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 and is observed from December 26th to January 1st. Each day of Kwanzaa focuses on one of the seven principles (Nguzo Saba), and celebrations include lighting the kinara, storytelling, music, and feasting.

New Year’s Eve (December 31st) – New Year’s Eve is the last day of the year and marks the eve of the New Year. Although not a federal holiday, it is widely celebrated across the United States with parties, fireworks, and other festivities. The countdown to midnight and the “ball drop” in New York City’s Times Square are iconic New Year’s Eve traditions.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (December 7th) – Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is not a federal holiday, but it is a day to honor and remember the 2,403 American lives lost during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Many Americans observe this day by attending memorial services, flying the U.S. flag at half-staff, and participating in educational events about the attack and its historical significance.

Bill of Rights Day (December 15th) – Bill of Rights Day is not a federal holiday, but it is a day to commemorate the ratification of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, on December 15, 1791. The day is observed by promoting awareness and understanding of these amendments and their importance in protecting individual rights and liberties.


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