San Francisco events, festivals, things to do – December 2018

San Francisco
calendar of events

December 2018
best events in San Francisco

Swedish Christmas fair

December 1, 2018

0.7 miles NW

Enjoy Swedish folk music and dancing in costumes, shop for Swedish crafts, drink mulled wine, eat Swedish food, and meet Santa at the SWEA San Francisco Christmas Fair at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Holiday on Union Street

December 1, 2018 (3 to 7 p.m.)

1.9 miles NW

Union Street Fantasy of Lights features thousands of lights on Victorian homes, jugglers, costumed characters, singers, face painters, carriage rides, ponies dressed as reindeer, and Santa himself.

Superhero convention

December 1 - 2, 2018

48.6 miles south

Heroes & Villains Fan Fest celebrates comics, sci-fi, TV, and movies with guest actors, panel discussions, costume contests, role-playing, and vendors at San Jose McEnery Convention Center.
CityPass San Francisco

Film festival

December 1 - 10, 2018 (begins Nov. 28)

1.1 miles NW

Another Hole in the Head Film Festival screens horror, sci-fi, dark fantasy, and exploitation films at New People Cinema in Japantown.

Victorian fair

December 1 - 23, 2018 (weekends)

6.5 miles south

Great Dickens Christmas Fair offers holiday shops, 7 stages of entertainment, costumed carolers, pubs, and tearooms built to look like old England at the Cow Palace in Daly City, weekends and the day after Thanksgiving.

Glowing art

Dec. 1, 2018 - Jan. 1, 2019 (Nov. 22+)

multiple locations

Illuminate SF Festival of Light features dozens of dramatic glowing art installations in different neighborhoods with lights festivals, guided tours, and self-guided walks.

Holiday castles

Dec. 1, 2018 - Jan. 2, 2019 (Nov. 21+)

1 mile NE

Stop by the lobby of the Westin St. Francis to admire the St. Francis Holiday Display, featuring two castles with circular towers, individual rooms, and illuminated windows, surrounded by holiday sugar cakes. Free.

Santa run

December 9, 2018

4.1 miles NW

A ticket to San Francisco Great Santa Run includes a Santa suit, a commemorative holiday medal and a 5K/1-mile run at Crissy Field.

Santa run in San Jose

December 16, 2018

54.4 miles south

Dress up as your favorite holiday character for Santa Run Silicon Valley, which has a kids’ dash for ages 2 to 7, a 5K run/walk through downtown San Jose, and a costume contest. Afterward, visit Santa at free Christmas in the Park.

Jewish comedy

December 23 - 25, 2018

San Francisco & San Jose

  • Dec. 23 - 25 (San Francisco) - See comedy with cocktails or dinner during Kung Pao Kosher Comedy at New Asia Restaurant in Chinatown.
  • Undated (San Jose) - Latkes & Laughs offers potato pancakes & punchlines at Temple Emanu-El.

New Year’s Eve - restaurants

December 31, 2018

San Francisco Bay Area

OpenTable lists restaurants that offer special menus and celebrations on New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve - symphony

December 31, 2018

0.1 miles SW

Seth MacFarlane lights up the stage in a concert with San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall.

New Year’s Eve - jazz

December 31, 2018

0.4 miles SW

The New Year’s Eve Party with Maceo Parker includes funk music, sparkling wine, and a countdown to the new year at SFJazz Center. (The 8 p.m. show counts down to “East Coast” New Year’s at 9 p.m.)

New Year Eve - Union Square

December 31, 2018

0.6 miles east

Mega New Year’s Eve promises DJ dance music, epic balloon drops, confetti blasts, insane lighting, and party favors near Union Square for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve - Regency

December 31, 2018

0.7 miles north

Mother of all New Year’s (MOANY) features three dance rooms, DJs, cash bars, and casino tables at the Regency Ballroom for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve at PianoFight

December 31, 2018

0.7 miles NE

PianoFight’s 4th Annual New Years Eve Super Bash includes live music, DJs, karaoke, drag performers, balloon drops, champagne toasts, confetti cannons, and multiple bars at PianoFight for age 21+.

Bollywood New Year

December 31, 2018

0.8 miles south

Celebrate the new year a few days early at the Bollywood Masquerade Party, which has DJ dance music from India at Brick & Mortar Music Hall for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve - Parc 55

December 31, 2018

0.8 miles NE

NYE Massive has five dance floors, each with the theme of a different city, casino games, and balloon drops at Parc 55 for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve - St. Francis

December 31, 2018

1 mile SW

Wonderland has five “magical themed rooms of music & entertainment,” 10 DJs, two live bands, performers, and a fashion show at the Westin St. Francis Hotel.

New Year’s Eve - Palace Hotel

December 31, 2018

1.2 miles NE

NYE International Ball has a premium open bar, 10 DJs, four rooms with music and performances, and a midnight balloon drop at the Palace Hotel for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve - Park Central

December 31, 2018

1.2 miles NE

Dress semi-formal for Epic New Year’s Eve, which has DJ music on four dance floors, cash bars, and balloon drops at Park Central Hotel for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve speakeasy

December 31, 2018

2 miles NE

Step back in time to the Roaring Twenties at New Year’s Eve 1928, which offers a night of handcrafted cocktails, passed hors d’oeuvres, a swing band, and a balloon drop behind a secret door in North Beach.

New Year’s Eve - Fort Mason

December 31, 2018

2.3 miles north

Eye Heart New Year’s Eve promises a “world-class music festival production” with state-of-the-art lighting and sound, interactive displays, art installations, and an open bar at Fort Mason Center for age 21+.

New Year’s - Palace of Fine Arts

December 31, 2018

3 miles NW

Imagine: New Year’s Eve promises “an epic adventure through nine fairytale-themed worlds” full of cirque performers, fairy dancers, and wizard magicians, plus an open bar and live jazz in The Palace of Fine Arts.

New Year’s run

December 31, 2018

3.5 miles NW

Run a mile around the lagoon at Crissy Field for 6, 12, or 24 hours to win cash prizes as you admire views of the Golden Gate Bridge during New Year’s One Day.

New Year’s Eve - comedy

December 31, 2018

18.4 miles north

Laugh your way into the new year at New Year’s Eve Stand up Comedy Showcase in San Rafael (bar opens at 7:30, five comedy acts 9 to 11, and after-party 11:30 with big-screen countdown and champagne).

New Year’s Eve in San Jose

December 31, 2018

47.6 miles south

Wear black and white to the Black & White Affair, a trendy party playing top 40, hip hop, and club classics at SP2 Communal Bar + Restaurant for age 21+.

Family holiday concert

December 2018 (undated)

0.1 miles SW

San Francisco Symphony performs holiday favorites and leads a sing-along for children at Deck the Hall, followed by a post-concert party with entertainment, arts and crafts, and snacks at Davies Symphony Hall.

Holiday concert

December 2018 (undated)

0.1 miles SW

Holiday Brass is a festive mix of classical and popular holiday music played by the San Francisco Symphony brass section at Davies Symphony Hall.

Men’s chorus

December 2018 (undated)

0.3 miles SW

Elfstravaganza features clever production numbers, holiday humor, and pristine harmonies by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus at Nourse Theater.

Crab feast

December 2018 (undated)

0.8 miles SE

A ticket to the All-You-Can-Eat Crab Feast gets you Dungeness crab, garlic noodles, salad, and iced tea.

Chocolate and Art Show

December 2018 (undated)

1 mile SE

The Chocolate and Art Show features artists, live body painting, live music, face-painting, and free chocolate at SOMArts Cultural Center for age 21+.

Bawdy family show

December 2018 (undated)

1.1 miles NE

A British pantomime is a funny musical play based on a traditional children’s story. Boo the villains and cheer the heroes in Sleeping Beauty the Panto, with concessions and a bar at Custom Made Theatre.

Free museum

December 2018 (undated)

1.1 miles NE

The Contemporary Jewish Museum is one of the few establishments open today, and it’s free! Explore the museum’s galleries, create art, and hear live music on CJM Community Free Day. Deli food will be for sale.

Menorah lighting

December 2018 (undated)

1.1 miles NE

See the schedule of lighting ceremonies held every day at the giant Bill Graham Menorah in Union Square.

Handel’s Messiah

December 2018 (undated)

1.2 miles north

Hear the American Bach Soloists perform Handel’s Messiah with a choir and period instruments in awe-inspiring Grace Cathedral.

Jewish party

December 2018 (undated)

1.2 miles SE

Join 800 others celebrating at the Latke Ball with DJ music at The Great Northern for age 21+.

Lantern parade

December 2018 (undated)

1.2 miles NE

Attend a workshop to build a lantern you can carry in the Parol Lantern Festival & Parade or join the spectators. Music begins at 5 p.m. in Jessie Square and the parade begins at 6:15 p.m. at Yerba Buena Gardens. In case of rain, the events may move inside St. Patrick’s Church.

Gingerbread House

December 2018 (undated)

1.3 miles NE

See a life-sized Gingerbread House made of thousands of homemade gingerbread bricks and tons of icing and candy in the lobby of the Fairmont San Francisco hotel. Free. Optional Holiday Gingerbread Tea.

Boombox & smartphone concert

December 2018 (undated)

1.5 miles SW

Download the music, and then play it on cue with the crowd at Unsilent Night, which starts its promenade at Mission Dolores Park (at Dolores & 18th Streets).

Gift fair

December 2018 (undated)

1.5 miles SE

Shop for locally made gifts from 75 vendors at SFMade Holiday Fair at California College of the Arts. Free.

Volunteer event

December 2018 (undated)

1.6 miles NE

Help make lunches for the homeless during Designing A Difference Holiday Event at 540 Howard Street and donate $10 at the door.

Holiday dance party

December 2018 (undated)

2 miles NE

Men wear elf costumes, and women dress as Santa or other holiday characters for The Elf Party, which has dance music, photos with Santa, and cash bars at Broadway Studios for age 21+. Buy tickets online.

Light-saber battle

December 2018 (undated)

2.2 miles SE

Glow Sword Battle SF is an all-ages event with food trucks, music, and a battle at 9 p.m. Buy a glow sword or bring your own to Spark Social SF. Free.

Spanish food & wine

December 2018 (undated)

2.3 miles SE

A ticket to National Sangria Day! Wine Not? gets you unlimited sangria in six flavors if you’re age 21+. You won’t need a ticket to shop from the special lineup of Latin food trucks at Spark Social SF.

Wine tasting on the pier

December 2018 (undated)

2.6 miles north

Participating merchants offer wine tasting and entertainment for ticket holders during Winter Wine Pour at Pier 39.

Holiday market

December 2018 (undated)

3.1 miles west

Shop from 90 art and food vendors at Sunset Holiday Mercantile, which also has beer and wine tasting, kids’ activities, and entertainment at the San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. Free.

Holiday boats in Sausalito

December 2018 (undated)

8.6 miles north

Watch dozens of boats with colored lights and decorations at the Lighted Boat Parade, followed by fireworks and a dance party with food trucks and bars at Gabrielson Park. Free.

Gingerbread houses in Sausalito

December 2018 (undated)

9.1 miles north

Walk around Sausalito to see 40 gingerbread houses displayed in businesses and vote for your favorites on the self-guided Gingerbread House Tour. Free. Map.

Oakland Nutcracker

December 2018 (undated)

11.4 miles east

Oakland Ballet performs a whimsical version of The Nutcracker with dynamic dancing, gorgeous costumes, and beautiful sets at the Paramount Theatre.

Zine festival

December 2018 (undated)

11.7 miles east

A zine is a cheap, self-published, underground publication. East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest has vendors, guest speakers, and workshops in Oakland. Free.

International holiday night

December 2018 (undated)

12.9 miles east

Winter Fest celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Balinese, and Latin American winter festivities with live music, dance performances, activities, and exhibits at Oakland Museum of California.

Modern Nutcracker

December 2018 (undated)

13.6 miles NE

Witty and irreverent, The Hard Nut is a retro-modern take on the beloved Nutcracker, with gender-bending snowflakes, twinkle-toed G.I. Joe’s, and a Soul Train-style dance line at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley.

Winter solstice celebration

December 2018 (undated)

13.6 miles NE

Bay Area Winter Solstice includes speakers, a choir, and vegetarian food at Anna Head Alumnae Hall in Berkeley.

Home tour in Alameda

December 2018 (undated)

15.3 miles east

Buy a ticket to visit five homes decorated for the holidays during Alameda Holiday Home Tour, which includes a dessert tea at the First Presbyterian Church. The gift market at the Elks Lodge is free. Hours vary.

Holiday crafts fair

December 2018 (undated)

18.2 miles NE

Shop from 200 exhibitors at the Craneway Crafts Fair for one-of-a-kind, handmade, and limited edition goods in a variety of media at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond to support public radio.

Hip Nutcracker

December 2018 (undated)

26 miles south

Hip Hop Nutcracker adds new twists to Tchaikovsky’s music and features 17 hip-hop dancers plus ballet dancers at Fox Theatre in Redwood City.

Nutcracker in Redwood City

December 2018 (undated)

26 miles south

Featuring beautiful choreography and Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable score, The Nutcracker by Peninsula Ballet tells the story of a girl’s magical dream at Fox Theatre.


December 2018 (undated)

43 miles south

Pac-12 North and Pac-12 South champions play for the conference title at the Pac-12 Football Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

Holiday cheer at Great America

December 2018 (undated)

43.2 miles south

WinterFest includes an ice rink, falling snow, lights, decorations, live shows, and rides at Great America in Santa Clara. See schedule.

Pop music in San Jose

December 2018 (undated)

48 miles south

Poptopia is an annual concert with big-name performers at SAP Center at San Jose.

Nutcracker in San Jose

December 2018 (undated)

48.3 miles south

San Jose Dance Theatre performs The Nutcracker as a symphony orchestra plays Tchaikovsky’s music at San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.

Holiday show in San Jose

December 2018 (undated)

50 miles south

Joy! is a madcap spectacular with world-class acrobats, dancers, circus artists, and musicians for all ages at Hammer Theatre Center in San Jose.

South Bay holiday lights

December 2018 (undated)

53.4 miles south

Drive 1.5 miles past colorful lights and 50 fun displays while holiday music plays on your radio during Fantasy of Lights at Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos. Closed Dec. 25.

San Jose craft fair

December 2018 (undated)

54.3 miles south

Shop from hundreds of craft makers, food producers, artists, and designers at San Jose Craft Holiday Fair at South Hall in San Jose. Free.

Nutcracker in San Jose

December 2018 (undated)

55.4 miles south

The New Ballet includes references to the history of Santa Clara Valley in its performance of The Nutcracker with live orchestra at Hammer Theatre Center. A shorter versions is offered for children.

Christmas tree lighting

December 2018 (undated)

0 miles

World Tree of Hope Lighting Ceremony includes a concert by San Francisco Boys Chorus, words from the mayor, a blessing by Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and a tree hung with letters wishing hope and peace that are folded into origami cranes at City Hall. Free.

Charlie Brown live

December 2018 (undated)

0.1 miles SW

A Charlie Brown Christmas—Live! features animation from the holiday classic on a big screen while performers narrate, sing, and dance on stage as the San Francisco Symphony and its chorus perform at Davies Symphony Hall.

Handel’s Messiah

December 2018 (undated)

0.1 miles SW

It’s a holiday tradition to hear joyful Handel’s Messiah sung by the San Francisco Symphony Chorus at Davies Symphony Hall.


December 2018 (undated)

0.2 miles west

San Francisco Ballet performs the Nutcracker, the story of a young girl’s Christmas fantasy, at War Memorial Opera House.

Rockin’ Christmas

December 2018 (undated)

0.5 miles NE

Christmas Rocks features legendary rocker Brian Setzer (lead guitarist and vocalist) and his orchestra (trumpets, trombones, saxophones, piano, string bass, and drums) playing holiday songs at The Warfield.

Christmas play

December 2018 (undated)

0.6 miles NE

A Christmas Carol is Charles Dickens’ holiday classic about the transformation of miserly Scrooge at ACT’s Geary Theater.

Pub crawl dressed as Santa

December 2018 (undated)

1.1 miles NE

Wear a Santa suit to SantaCon, which begins at Union Square and then heads out to city bars. Free.

Christmas dance show

December 2018 (undated)

1.2 miles NE

A holiday tradition, The Christmas Ballet is a mix of ballet, tap, and swing by Smuin Ballet at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Run in your underwear

December 2018 (undated)

1.4 miles SW

Wear red to the Santa Skivvies Run, a festive half-naked run for one mile through the Castro District to support charity, plus an after-event on Noe Street.

Christmas boat parade

December 2018 (undated)

2.3 miles north

Watch 60 boats covered in bright lights and holiday decorations cruise past Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, Aquatic Park, Fort Mason, Marina Green, and Crissy Field and back again in the Lighted Boat Parade. Free.

Fun Nutcracker

December 2018 (undated)

2.3 miles north

Nutcracker Sweets is a 50-minute contemporary take on the beloved holiday ballet for all ages at Fort Mason Center.

Santa hat run

December 2018 (undated)

4.1 miles NW

Your registration fee for Run Wild San(ta) Francisco 5K and kids dash includes a Santa hat to wear, a race-day T-shirt, a finish-line award, a timing chip, and a post-race expo at Crissy Field.

ZooLights in S.F.

December 2018 (undated)

7.7 miles SW

See trees covered with lights, Santa (through December 23), reindeer, roaming carolers or a brass band, and even snow at ZooLights at San Francisco Zoo.

Family Christmas show

December 2018 (undated)

11.3 miles east

Christmas Revels is a family-oriented celebration of the winter solstice with music, dance, song, stories, and humor at the Scottish Rite Center on Lake Merritt.

Haunting Christmas musical

December 2018 (undated)

15.7 miles NE

All is Calm tells the extraordinary story of Christmas 1914, when a German soldier who left his trench singing “Silent Night” stopped World War I, allowing soldiers to share one night of camaraderie, music, and peace, onstage at Contra Costa Civic Theatre.

ZooLights in Oakland

December 2018 (undated)

19.2 miles east

ZooLights has colorful light displays, laser light shows, gondola rides, Christmas trees, and Santa some nights at the Oakland Zoo. Free parking. Closed Dec. 24-25.

Christmas play in Walnut Creek

December 2018 (undated)

24 miles NE

A Christmas Carol is Charles Dickens’ holiday classic about Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Christmas ghosts at Lesher Center for the Arts.

Irish concert & potluck

December 2018 (undated)

45 miles SE

Hear Irish ballads, folk tunes, Christmas songs, and an unexpected rock song at Celtic Christmas Concert and Gathering, and bring a dish of food for the potluck at Bothwell Arts Center in Livermore. Cider and tea are included; wine, beer, and Irish whiskey are for sale.

Santa train in Napa

December 2018 (undated)

46.9 miles north

Watch a stage show before boarding the Santa Train, and then take a 90-minute ride with cookies, cocoa, and songs to meet Santa at “the North Pole.” [Check the availability for both show times since it varies.]

Christmas concert in San Jose

December 2018 (undated)

54.8 miles south

Carols in the California is a traditional sing-along of Christmas carols with a choir and brass ensemble in the beautiful California Theatre in San Jose. Afterward, walk a few blocks to see Christmas in the Park at Plaza de Cesar Chavez, free and open until midnight.