Home » City Guide »

SF’s Most Magical Tree Lightings & Holiday Events

All the biggest lighting ceremonies and the Bay’s most special Xmas & holiday events
By - posted 12/8/2019 No Comment

The holidays are just around the corner and you are invited to get into the spirit at tree lightings and holiday festivals all over the Bay Area.

Grab your friends and family and marvel at magical fireworks and twinkling lights, hear carolers sing all your seasonal favorites, as the little ones tell Santa their Christmas wishes.

Bay Area’s Best 2019 Holiday Lighting Events

2019 Embarcadero Center’s Lighting Ceremony & Carnival

Friday, November 22, 2019 | 4-7pm
Embarcadero Center, San Francisco

Four iconic buildings will light up with 17,000 holiday lights, along with fireworks bursting in the sky and a magical ice skating show. The Building Lighting Ceremony at Embarcadero Center is a San Francisco tradition and the official start of the holiday season in the City.


Conservatory of Flowers’ Night Bloom

Periodic Nights: November 22, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Conservatory of Flowers: 101 John F. Kennedy Dr., San Francisco
Free to watch the light show from outside

Night Bloom, a six-week light and sound exhibition, will transform the iconic San Francisco landmark.

2019 Macy’s Great Tree Lighting

Friday, November 29, 2019 | 6pm (Tree Lighting approx. at 6:50 pm)
Union Square Park | Geary and Powell, San Francisco
FREE to watch

San Francisco’s most recognized Christmas tree stands more than 83-feet tall, decorated with 43,000 twinkling energy-efficient LED lights and 700 shining ornaments. The Great Tree is lit annually on Black Friday.


Pier 39’s Nightly Tree Lighting Show

November 27, 2019 through January 5, 2020 | 5-10pm
PIER 39, The Embarcadero, San Francisco
Synchronized to holiday music, Pier 39’s Christmas tree transforms into a kaleidoscope of swirling colorsnightly, every half hour from 5-10pm, November 27, 2019 through January 5, 2020.


2019 Illuminate SF Festival of Light

November 28, 2019 – January 1, 2020
All over San Francisco – Map

Illuminate SF Festival of Light happens Thanksgiving 2019 through New Year’s Day 2020 and shines a light on San Francisco’s ever-expanding light art scene with 40+ different light sculptures (both permanent and temporary) in 17 neighborhoods by 30+ artists.


55th Annual Ghirardelli Square Tree Lighting Ceremony

Friday, November 29, 2019 | 4–9pm
Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco

Ghirardelli Square’s massive Christmas tree lights up for the holidays with live music, crafts and a special appearance by Santa.


San Jose’s Christmas in the Park Opening

Friday, November 29, 2019 | 5-9pm
Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose

San Jose’s favorite holiday tradition, Christmas in the Park is a holiday fantasyland with over 60 musical and animated exhibits. The 40th year kicks off at 5pm on November 29 with the return of the Christmas in the Park Parade followed by the annual tree lighting. New for 2019, enjoy a special musical light show on their 55-foot live Christmas tree each night at 6:00pm with a special guest who will light the Community Giving Tree.


2019 Niles Festival of Lights and Parade

Friday, November 29, 2019 | 6pm
– Tree Lighting at 6pm
– Parade Kickoff at 6:30pm
Niles Boulevard

This wonderful holiday tradition features over 60 unique floats and other entries, marching bands, specialty service units, costumed characters and of course, an appearance by the man himself – Santa Claus.


Yerba Buena Gardens’ Carousel Lighting Ceremony

Saturday, November 30, 2019 | 4-7pm
221 4th St, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

Put a “spin” on a classic holiday tradition this winter as the Children’s Creativity Museum lights up the Bay Area’s oldest and most beloved carousel in Yerba Buena Gardens. Plus, take a spin ’round with free carousel rides.


2019 Castro Tree Lighting

Monday, December 2, 2019 | 6 pm
Castro Merchants | 501 Castro St., SF

Castro celebrates the holidays with the lighting of a 28-foot tree with holiday music, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and of course Santa with his elf.


Golden Gate Park’s 90th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 | 4-8pm
McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park, 501 Stanyan Street (and Fell)

This free family-friendly event will feature toboggan rides, a snow play area, carnival rides, live entertainment, cookie decorating, visits with Santa and more.


San Francisco Civic Center Plaza Tree Lighting

Wednesday, December 4, 2019 | 4-7pm
Civic Center Community Benefit District, 901 Market Street, Suite 490, San Francisco, CA

This festive event features holiday entertainment, “snow” flurries, festive bites and drinks, free holiday crafts from community organizations, and a toy giveaway for 400+ children.


Westfield Centre’s Annual Upside Down Tree Lighting

Friday, December 6, 2019 | 6-8pm
Westfield Centre, 865 Market St. Level 4 Under the Dome, SF
FREE, but an RSVP is required

Join the San Francisco community in kicking off the holidays under the iconic Emporium Dome with a special lighting of the 50 foot Inverted Crystal Tree. Plus, visit Santa, dance to the DJ, sip hot cocoa, and so much more.


2019 Presidio’s Holiday Lights Tree Lighting

Friday, December 6, 2019 | 5-7pm
Presidio Main Post, San Francisco
FREE, but reservations are appreciated

The Presidio’s iconic traditional tree-lighting ceremony is expands in 2019 with lantern walks, holiday music and song from the SF Girls Chorus, and free popcorn.


Grace Cathedral’s World Tree of Hope Celebration

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 | 6:30-8:30pm
Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St, San Francisco

See the world’s most unique holiday tree light up along with live performances. The World Tree of Hope is the largest origami holiday tree in the world, standing over 23 feet tall and decorated with over 17,000 origami cranes and stars, each hand folded and inscribed with wishes for the future of the world.


2019 Sausalito Lighted Boat Parade & Fireworks

Saturday, December 14, 2019 | 5-8 pm (Parade starts at 6 pm)
Sausalito Waterfront
FREE to watch the parade and fireworks.

Watch dozens of brightly lit and beautifully decorated boats parade along the shoreline by the Spinnaker, Sausalito Yacht Club & Ferry Landing.

Saturday, December 4

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair’s “Drive Thru Dickens’ London” Opening Day
Saturday, December 4 – 11:00 am | Cost: $25*
*$25 per vehicle (includes all vehicle occupants)
| Cow Palace
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair's "Drive Thru Dickens’ London" Opening Day
Despite the necessity to cancel its customary incarnation of Victorian London within the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, Red Barn Productions has found a way to bring The Great Dickens Christmas Fair into your car, into your home, and under your tree this holiday season. For three weekends, beginning ...