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2011 Holiday Tree Lighting Celebrations

Funcheap’s big guide to Xmas tree lightings, winter carnivals, ice shows, lighted boat parades & giant snowflakes.
By - posted 11/23/2011 No Comment

The holiday spirit is in the air and in San Francisco and all across the Bay Area towns are preparing for sparkling tree lighting celebrations, late night holiday shopping, visits from Santa Claus, and warm cups of free hot cocoa.

Lucky for you, Funcheap has rounded up a selection of 2011 Christmas and holiday celebrations to please everyone. Read on for memorable Xmas times that won’t cost you a dime.

Funcheap’s Guide to Christmas & Holiday Celebrations | 2011

San Francisco

4th Annual “Snowflakes on Market Street”
Snowflakes on Market Street features the lighting of giant illuminated snowflakes on Market Street’s signature “Path of Gold” light poles. Mayor Ed Lee and the San Francisco Ballet’s “Snowflakes” (from the Nutcracker) are on hand during the lighting ceremony for these 162 giant snowflakes.
Thursday, November 17, 2011 | 6:30p | Powell & Market | Ends Mid January 2012

Embarcadero Winter Carnival & Fireworks
The momma Santa of all Bay Area holiday celebrations.  Blasting off a fireworks display over the harbor, a full winter carnival, a sneak preview of “Disney on Ice: Toy Story 3“, and – of course – a massive lighting ceremony across the Embarcadero buildings, this is the perfect way to kick off the SF holiday season.
Friday, November 18, 2011 | Carnival, 4pm; Festival, 6pm | Justin Herman Plaza

Hyatt Regency Tree Lighting
If you’re one for eclectic taste, head to the Hyatt for live entertainment by Beach Blanket Babylon, the SF Symphony, and Zoo Station, a U2 tribute band. Stick around to watch 300,000 lights illuminate the Hyatt’s 30 foot tree in the atrium lobby. Stop by the following day through December 31st to see snow fall in the hotel lobby at 1pm, 6pm and 8pm daily.
Friday, November 18, 2011 | 7pm | Hyatt Regency San Francisco | Snow Fall: November 19 – December 31

Macy’s Holiday Windows: Pet Adoption Displays
Macy’s in Union Square is unveiling their 2011 “Holiday Windows” with elaborately-decorated window displays featuring some adorable (and adoptable) cats and dogs to help benefit the SPCA and find these furry friends a new home. Come by November 18th for the unveiling ceremony.
Friday, November 18, 2011 | 5pm | Macy’s Union Square | Ends January 1st, 2012

Pier 39 Holiday Tree Lighting
Kick off the season with live holiday music, interactive booths, and children’s favorite Disney pals at the annual Pier 39 tree lighting. The evening will culminate at 5:30pm as the Pier’s 60 foot tree is illuminated against the city skyline.
Sunday, November 20, 2011 | 12pm – 6pm | Pier 39

Westin St. Francis’ Holiday Sugar Castle Unveiling
It’s not every day you can see a 1200 pound 100% edible castle and, at the Westin St. Francis, they’re throwing in complimentary hot chocolate and cookies to sweeten the deal. Come ooh and ahh over this truly spectacular sugar castle.
Wednesday, November 23 | 10am | The Westin St. Francis | Ends January 3, 2012

Macy’s Great Tree Lighting
San Francisco’s most recognized tree lights up Union Square with a visit from Santa Claus and two-time Olympian Johnny Weir. This year’s 80-foot Fir tree will be covered in 21,000 energy-efficient twinkling LED lights.
Friday, November 25, 2011 | 6pm | Union Square

Ghirardelli Square Tree Lighting
Enjoy free entertainment by the Contra Costa Chorale, City Opera SF and The Yuletide Carolers for the 47th annual Ghirardelli tree lighting.
Friday, November 25, 2011 | 5:30pm | Ghirardelli Square

Magical Holiday Windows at Shreve & Co.
Shreve & Co. unveils their holiday windows on November 25th at 1pm with the theme “Once Upon A Time” – a re-imagined version of several beloved fairy tales told art dolls, illustrations and sets.
Friday, November 25, 2011 | 1pm | Shreve & Co., 200 Post St.

Westfield Center “Illuminique” Light Show
A brand new Christmas event for 2011, an animated 3D light spectacular projected on the 1908 glass dome which is nearly 1,000 feet larger than the largest IMAX screen in the world. Opening night on Black Friday with Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi starting at 4pm.
Friday, November 25, 2011 | 4p | Westfield San Francisco Center under the Dome | Shows most nights nightly through January 1

Castro Tree Lighting
Fabulous drag artist Donna Sachet takes the reigns for this year’s Castro Tree Lighting. Join neighbors as well as Santa and his Elf for entertainment by the Lesbian and Gay Freedom Band, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Chorus and Metropolitan Community Church Choirs. Local merchants will remain open late for a little extra holiday shopping.
Monday, November 28, 2011 | 6pm | Bank of America at 18th and Castro

555 California Holiday Tree Lighting
If you’re on the hunt for some celebrities, look no further than 555 California. Besides boasting one of the regions largest trees, you’ll have the chance to see 49ers Running Back Frank Gore and hear performances by American Idol‘s Pia Toscano and pop singer Andy Grammar.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 | 4pm | 555 California

San Francisco City Hall Tree Lighting
A big Christmas & holiday ceremony with the Tree of Hope decorated with thousands of origami cranes. Celebrate with Mayor Ed Lee, Rita Moreno, The Sisters of the Perpetual Indulgence with free wine, cocktails, hors d’ oeuvres and sweets.
Monday, December 5, 2011 | 5:30pm | San Francisco City Hall

82nd Annual Golden Gate Park Tree Lighting
Come enjoy an evening of holiday cheer in Golden Gate Park, featuring live entertainment, activities for kids, refreshments, a cookie factory, train rides and a visit from Santa. Festivities will begin at 5pm, with the tree lighting ceremony to begin shortly after dusk.
Thursday, December 8, 2011 | 5pm | McLaren Lodge, 501 Stanyan St.

Bill Graham 25-Foot-Tall Menorah Lighting
Each night for Hanukkah a giant 25-foot Menorah is lit in Union Square. One of the days (still TBD for 2011) is designated Bill Graham Menorah Day with a full festival with ceremonies, dreidel house and Jewish music. 
December 20-28, 2011 | Dusk | Union Square

East Bay
Jack London Square Holiday Festival
Oakland heats things up with a waterfront holiday light installation, live music, festive caroling, and a sneak preview of floats and costumed characters from the 2011 Oakland Children’s Holiday Parade.
Friday, December 2, 2011 | 5 – 7pm | Jack London Square, Oakland

Oakland Lighted Yacht Parade
Stick around Oakland after the parade to see a different take on holiday lighting celebrations. Stake out a waterfront spot along the boardwalk or inside one of Jack London Square‘s restaurants to take in dozens of boats decked out in holiday lights and spirit.
Saturday, December 3, 2011 | 5:30pm | Jack London Square Waterfront

South Bay / Penninsula
Christmas in the Park
For over 30 years, San Jose has drawn massive crowds come the holiday season. Why? For their intricate, holiday transformation with over 60 musical and animated exhibits spread across two full acres. This is one you’ll have to see to believe.
Friday, November 25, 2011 | 5:30 | Plaza De Cesar Chavez, San Jose | Ends January 1, 2012

Nights of Light Holiday Festival
Come celebrate the season in this coastal town with holiday floats, an old-fashioned fire truck, and a visit from Santa Claus at Half Moon Bay‘s annual Parade of Lights. As a bonus, the evening will be filled with strolling carolers, chestnuts over an open fire, a tree lighting ceremony, and late-night shopping.
Friday, December 2, 2011 | 6pm | Downtown Half Moon Bay

Mountain View Holiday Tree Lighting
Bring the whole family for live holiday music, refreshments, and photos with Santa for Mountain View’s annual tree lighting celebration. Canned good are encouraged to begin building the town’s Giving Tree.
Monday, December 5, 2011 | 5:30pm | Civic Center Plaza, Mountain View

North Bay

Lighting of the Snowmen Celebration
Take part in this Sonoma Valley tradition for a spirited evening filled with hot chocolate, kids’ holiday craft tables, tasty treats, grab-bag gifts, a photo booth, pick-your-own prize raffles, and facepainting. All that plus the ceremonious lighting of dozens of snowmen.
Saturday, November 26, 2011 | 4pm | Cornerstone Sonoma (23570 Arnold Dr., Sonoma)

Winter Wonderland & Parade of Lights
San Rafael
never disappoints with their winter celebration. From the snow the town ships in for two days of sledding to the annual parade filled with Santa, Ms Claus and other costumed characters to the holiday marketplace, this two-day event is perfect for kids of all ages.
Friday, December 25, 2011 | 2pm | Fourth Street (B Street to Lootens), San Rafael | Ends December 26, 2011