2015 San Francisco Tree Lighting

With Thanksgiving now behind us, it’s time to kick into gear for the upcoming winter holidays. Get into the spirit of the season at one of these festive events around the City:

2015 San Francisco Tree Lighting

Tree Lighting Ceremonies, Menorah Lighting Celebrations and Other Holiday Festivals in the SF Bay Area…

Source: SF Tourism Tips

2015 San Francisco Tree Lighting

Tree Lighting Ceremonies

Union Square

This year’s Union Square Tree Lighting Ceremony (Macy’s 24th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony) is on Friday, November 27, 2015. Festivities begin at 6pm with the tree lighting scheduled for 6:40pm. Get to Union Square early for the best spot. The tree illuminates every night throughout the holidays.

Pier 39

Pier 39’s annual tree lighting ceremony is on Saturday, November 21 & Sunday, November 22, 2015. This two-day celebration starts at noon each day with a meet and greet with friends from the Disneyland® Resort. This all day event ends with the tree lighting ceremony at 6pm. The tree lights up nightly at 6pm throughout the holiday season.


Head over to the Presidio for their annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday, December 4. Activities start at 5:30pm and include free holiday craft activities for kids as well as caroling from the Golden Gate Carolers. Light refreshments will be available. The ceremony will be followed by a guided lantern walk through the forests (don’t forget your flashlight!) at 6:15pm. All activities are free.

Ghirardelli Square

The 50th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Ghirardelli Square is on Friday, November 27. The event starts at 4pm with music and other activities. The tree lighting is at 5:30pm with music and other fun until 7:30pm.

Ritz Carlton in Nob Hill

The Ritz Carlton kicks off the holiday season on Thursday, December 3 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm with their tree lighting ceremony. Join others in their lobby to see them light their 40-foot tree. Santa and his helpers will illuminate the tree. The ceremony begins with Dickens-era costumed carolers and ends with kids getting their picture taken with Santa. They will also offer cider, hot chocolate, and cookies.

555 California in Downtown SF

The 555 California building in downtown SF invites the public to their 9th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Tuesday, December 1 starting at 5pm. This year’s event features musical performances from Andy Grammer, the Pacific Boychoir, the local legendary Dick Bright Orchestra and more. The tree lighting is set for approximately 6:30pm in the plaza of 555 California.

Rainbow World Tree of Hope Lighting at City Hall

This year’s Rainbow World Tree of Hope moves back to City Hall. The lighting of this tree will take place on Wednesday, December 2. Events will kick off at 5:30pm with a concert by the Grammy Award winning SF Boys Choir. At 6:00pm is the Celebration of Hope with emcee Cheryl Jennings. The event continues with a performance by Veronica Klaus and Tammy Hall from 7pm to 8pm. Admission is free. The tree will continue to be on display throughout the holiday season.

Menorah Lighting Celebrations

Ghirardelli Square

This year’s Light the Menorah at Ghirardelli Square is on Wednesday, December 16. The event starts at 5pm with live music. At 6pm, Rabbi Peretz Mochkin will light the Menorah and invite everyone to dance.

Bill Graham Menorah Project

Stop by Union Square on Sunday, December 6 at 5pm for the 1st lighting. The final lighting is on Monday, December 14 at 6pm. More details to follow soon.

Other Holiday Festivals in SF

Nutcracker Under the Dome

Enjoy free light spectaculars starting on November 19 under the dome in the Westfield Mall. Each night, the dome will come to life with a 3-D light show inspired by the SF Ballet’s Nutcracker. The light display happens every half hour starting at 5pm. This event kicks off with a special celebration on November 19 from 3:30pm to 6pm where you will be able to take pictures with the SF Ballet performers, enjoy a visit from Santa, and check out special arts and crafts. The first 3-D show will start at 5pm that night. The 3-D performances will last through Thursday, December 31.

Union Street Fantasy of Lights

Swing by Union Street in the Marina on Saturday, December 5 for their annual Fantasy of Lights Holiday celebration. This year, thousands of lights will illuminate the Victorians in this district transforming it into a magical wonderland for the holidays. The event lasts from 3pm to 7pm with cupcake decorating from 3pm to 5pm and a visit from Santa from 5:30pm to 7pm.

Great Dickens Christmas Fair

The annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair starts on November 21. Every weekend through December 20 (plus the day after Thanksgiving), head over to the festival for a journey back in time. The event is set in Dicken’s London where you can shop, eat, and enjoy live entertainment.

Embarcadero Center Winter Carnival and Building Lighting

The Embarcadero Center invites you to join them on Friday, November 20 from 4pm to 7pm for their Building Lighting Ceremony and Carnival. As the sun sets, all four Embarcadero Center buildings will be lit, followed by a grand fireworks display. The carnival also includes children’s activities, a visit from Santa Claus, and a special appearance by Mickey Mouse.

Zoo Lights at the SF Zoo

Stop by the San Francisco Zoo from December 12 – 14 and 19 – 30 for Zoo Lights (no lights on December 24 or 25). Each day, you will get the chance to see this beautiful place lit up with holiday lights. Stop by Elinor Friend Playground for playtime under the stars, then pay a visit to Santa’s reindeer at Playfield Lawn. It will also be snowing!

From December 19 – 23 only, there will be additional activities, including midway games, food trucks, a Silent Disco ($5), a holiday marketplace, and more. Pay Santa a visit with your last minute requests. Zoo Lights is open from 5pm to 8pm, and admission is $7 for adults, $5 for kids ages 4 – 14, and free for kids under 3. Parking is $8.

Market Street Annual Snowflake Lighting

Head to Powell and Market on Monday, November 23 for the Market Street Annual Snowflake Lighting Ceremony. It starts at 6:30pm. Local officials will count down to the illumination. You can also enjoy live music.

Westin St. Francis Sugar Tree

For the first time this year, the Westin St. Francis will feature a their “St. Francis Sugar Tree” in their Landmark Lobby. This 12-foot tall tree will have more than 1,000 pieces of candy made from sugar. The unveiling ceremony is on November 25 at 11am. It will feature free coffee, cookies, and live music. It will then be on display through January 4, 2016.

st francis sugar tree
The St. Francis Sugar Tree

2015 Holiday Events around the Bay Area

Half Moon Bay Night of Lights

The 2014 Night of Lights in Half Moon Bay is on Friday, December 4. From 6pm to 9pm, enjoy the parade of lights down Main Street, live music, roasted chestnuts and activities for the kids. Many of the stores will stay open late, so you can also get in a little holiday shopping during your visit.

San Rafael Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland

On Friday, November 27, Fourth Street in San Rafael will fill with holiday cheer. Starting at noon, kids can enjoy snow sledding and the Market Place opens for holiday shopping. This year’s parade starts at 5:30pm and all festivities end around 8pm.

Jack London Square in Oakland

On Friday, December 4, Oakland’s Jack London Square will light up for the holidays. Join them for this annual celebration from 5pm to 7pm at the foot of Broadway. In addition to the tree lighting ceremony, you can also see musical performances, live reindeer, holiday surprises, and more. The tree lighting is at 7:15pm. Come early for a special visit from Santa starting at 5:15pm.

Monterey Cannery Row Tree Lighting

The beautiful waterfront town of Monterey will celebrate the holidays on Friday, November 27. This free event features live reindeer from 5pm to 8pm, a tree lighting ceremony at 6pm, and a visit from Santa Claus from 6pm to 9pm. All events will be in Steinbeck Plaza and the area in front of Bubba Gumps. Click here for additional holiday events around Monterey.

Tiburon Holiday Festival

Tiburon’s Holiday Festival is on Saturday, December 5. This all day event features professional photos with Santa, holiday activities, and Merrie Olde Christmas Carolers. The tree lighting is at 6pm at the Fountain Plaza in downtown Tiburon.

On a Search for Santa?

In addition to the places mentioned above, Santa will make dozens of additional stops all around San Francisco. He will be taking pictures at the Japantown Center Malls, Stonestown Galleria, and the Westfield Shopping Center. He will also stop by to celebrate the season at the Hyatt Regency and the SF Zoo.

Learn More: Full List of Places to See Santa

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