Chimney Sweep

Christmas Occasions in San Francisco 2022: What to Do This Vacation Season

Get in the spirit of Christmas with pop-up bars, light displays, Christmas productions, a Chinese food and comedy night and more.

Fairmont San Francisco

Christmas is less than two weeks away, which means it’s time to drink spiked eggnog and get the Christmas cheer into high gear. Just name us Santa’s little helpers, because we’ve rounded up all of SF’s funniest holiday events, from heartwarming opportunities to help those in need, holiday pop-ups at the best bars in town, to a slew of stage performances and gingerbread houses doing so are big, you can go inside. And if you’re still looking for fun things to do, there are cool events in SF every weekend and all winter long.

Running through Sunday, January 1st
Macy’s/Union Square
After several years of virtual appearances, SF SPCA’s adoptable animals have returned to Macy’s vacation window alive and as kittens/puppies. Watch them there every Thursday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. or virtually every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. online.
Costs: Free, but donations are welcome. You can also bring newly purchased pet toys, blankets, sheets, and towels to the donation station on Macy’s 8th floor.

Running through Sunday, January 1st
Union Square
While you’re downtown deciding whether or not to adopt a new furry friend, head to Union Square to see Macy’s Great Tree, a 24-foot-tall tree adorned with more than 33,000 LED lights and 1,100 ornaments .
Costs: Free

Running until Monday 16
Union Square
Contemplating which pup to adopt and take home? Take a spin around Union Square’s Safeway Holiday Ice Rink to clear your mind. There are 60-minute sessions every day, and if you go on a Wednesday night you can skate to Frozen music. Just try not to fa-la-la-fall while you’re fa-la-la-la-la.
Costs: $20 (including rent)

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Running until Friday, December 16th
Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason/Marina
Pick up this year’s Christmas tree at the Guardsmen Tree Lot and all proceeds from your Tower of Comfort and Joy will be used to provide underprivileged youth in the Bay Area with opportunities to participate in summer camps, after-school programs and more. It’s also not too late to snag tickets to the Guardsmen’s annual Tree Lot Party, which takes place the night after the last tree is sold and includes drinks, dancing, and lots of hilarious fun (GA: $130; VIP: $255 ).
Costs: All trees are sweet firs and range in price from $65 (2-4 feet) to $965 (15-18 feet).

Saturday 17 December – Sunday 18 December
Cow Palace
Experience Victorian London at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair without leaving SF. As you wander the winding streets you will find music halls, pubs selling British dishes, ales, mixed drinks and hot buttered rum. colorful characters like Santa, Tiny Tim, the ghost of Jacob Marley, Chimney Sweep and more; Theaters, dance parties, old shops full of holiday treasures and more.
Costs: $45 for a day ticket; $30 for twilight entry

Running until Saturday, December 24th
Grace Cathedral/Nob Hill
All are welcome at Grace Cathedral, which offers several concerts and services to celebrate the season, including A Cathedral Christmas, a performance of classic Christmas carols by Grace Cathedral’s Choir of Men and Boys, family sing-alongs, and Christmas lessons and carols.
Costs: Free

Running until Friday, December 23rd
The Victoria Theater/Mission
Grab a pal and a confidant to see what has become one of SF’s best Christmas traditions: hilarious drag performers parodying (in the most loving way) two Christmas episodes of The Golden Girls.
Costs: From $35

A Christmas song | Photo courtesy of the Toni Rembe Theater

Running until Saturday, December 24th
The Tony Rembe Theatre/Union Square
ACT’s classic version of A Christmas Carol returns this year with beautiful costumes, a lively cast and a moving rendition of the classic Dickens story that reminds us all what the Christmas cheer is really about.
Costs:Tickets start at $52.

The Nutcracker | Photo courtesy of War Memorial Opera House

Now – December 27
War Memorial Opera House/Civic Center
Going to a performance of The Nutcracker is a fundamental holiday tradition, especially in San Francisco since SF Ballet was the first ballet company to ever perform the show in the United States. This version stays true to the original with giant mice, a growing Christmas tree, and Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, but with plenty of SF-specific twists to keep in mind.
Costs:Tickets range from $10 (SRO) to $375 (Box Center).

Friday 23 December – Monday 26 December
Sherith Israel/Pacific Heights Parish and virtual
Chinese food and Christmas may be a Jewish cliche, but we appreciate it, especially when that cliché manifests itself in the form of a Jewish comedy show at a Chinese pop-up restaurant in an inclusive Jewish synagogue. Food is provided by Green Chow Down and there are plenty of stand-up comedians for laughs.
Costs: $90 to $100

Sip celebratory cocktails at a range of festive pop-up bars

Running until Saturday, December 31st
Different places
Raise a glass to long weekends or escape visiting relatives at one of the many vacation bars that have popped up across San Francisco. Pacific Cocktail Haven (Union Square) has morphed into “Miracle,” the popular pop-up that’s performing across the country (but only at one bar per city), and its sister bar, Kona’s Street Market (SoMa), is taking a tropical Touch for the holidays with a “Sippin’ Santa” theme. Trade Routes (Russian Hill) is all festive with a ‘Tinsel Time’ theme, including a boozy Frosty the Slushie mix and other merry drinks. If you’re willing to plan ahead, book a reservation for Tinseltown at the Trademark Bar (SoMa), where you’ll find the halls decked out and you might interact with some of Santa’s helpers and maybe even the jolly oldies Horsefeather (Divisadero Corridor) also has a Christmas cocktail menu, as does The Madrigal (Civic Center), and there are two Deck the Halls locations in Cow Hollow this year: Outre and the Blue Light. Prefer your celebrations with a side of devilish chaos? Rye Bar’s Krampus Popup is what you need.
Costs: varies

Running until Saturday, December 24th
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts/SoMa
We’ll always love The Nutcracker, but if you’re looking to shake it up this year, be sure to get tickets to Smuins The Christmas Ballet, which begins with a beautiful classical ballet set to popular Christmas carols and then transitions into the second act to Red Hot Contemporary Numbers” to pop favorites. Go on Tuesday December 20th if you want to catch the LGBTQ+ night show with a cameo from Lady Camden, the first runner-up in the final season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Costs: $25 to $99

Photo courtesy of The Fairmont

Admire the larger than life edible holiday displays at local hotels

Running until Saturday, December 31st
Fairmont San Francisco/Nob Hill and Westin St Francis/Union Square
We don’t like to pick favourites, but if you’re only visiting one hotel to get your Christmas dinner it should be the Fairmont, where you’ll find a two-story, life-size Victorian gingerbread house that stands 25 feet tall that you can walk inside. If you happen to be in Union Square, stop by the Westin to see SF’s largest sugar castle. There is also a boutique where you can buy your own sweet treats and pop! Lounge, a pop-up champagne bar just off the lobby with a DJ and sparkling wine (open Friday through Sunday).

Running until Friday, December 23rd
Davies Symphony Hall/Civic Center
There really is something for everyone at Symphony during the holiday season, including an adult-themed holiday variety show hosted by conductor Edwin Outwater and drag sensation Peaches Christ (Thursday 15 December), a showing of How the Grinch Stole Christmas with the Symphony performs the live score (December 16-17), Holiday Brass (Tuesday, December 20), Elf in Concert (December 21-22), and A Merry-Achi Christmas (December 23). .December), which is exactly what it sounds like.
Costs: varies

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Daisy Barringer is a freelance SF writer who never misses production of “A Christmas Carol” and finds Scrooge getting a bad rap. Follow her on Instagram @daisysf.

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