We love free family friendly holiday events. Here is a list that will help you kick-start this holiday season, San Francisco Style.
Tuesday, 11/27, 555 California St, 5 pm – 6:30. 555 California is better known to San Franciscans as the Bank of America Building which it has not been for at least five years. This will be the fifth year that the present owners have organized a family oriented celebration complete with the lighting of the tallest outdoor Christmas tree in San Francisco. This is your chance to introduce the kids to 49er football legends Joe Montana and Dwight Clark. Music by Dick Bright and his orchestra.
Thursday, 11/29, The Ritz Hotel, Tree lighting, 5:30 – 7:30. I always think of the Ritz in the same way that Holly Golightly thought of Tiffany’s ‘the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.’ And some very nice things are bound to happen at this free event for the public which includes the lighting of the Ritz Christmas Tree and hot chocolate.
Saturday, 12/1, Fisherman’s Wharf, 5:30 – 7:30. Lagoon Concert and Lighting of the Chapel. Fisherman’s Wharf may seem too crowded for your taste, but I encourage you to spend some time there in the early morning when one can get a better sense of what it was like before it became the tourist destination it is today. One special spot in the lagoon area is the Fisherman’s and Seafarer’s Memorial Chapel. This evening event will include a concert and for the first time a lighting of the chapel. Free hot chocolate courtesy of Ghirardelli. When you are done here, head west along the waterfront to the Hyde Street Pier (see below).
Saturday, 12/1, Hyde Street Pier, 8 pm, Sea Chantey Singalong. Board the Balclutha and C. A. Thayer historic sailing ships where you will learn a chantey or two – the sailor’s work song – and discover for yourself how the power of group singing can ease the burden and lift the soul. Dress warmly and bring your own empty mug for hot cider.
Thursday, 12/6, Golden Gate Park, McLaren Lodge, 5 – 7pm, Tree lighting.
It’s the 83rd annual lighting of the great tree in front of McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park. Activities for the kids and a visit from the man in red.
Friday, 12/7, The Presidio, 5:30 – 6:30, Tree lighting, Caroling & Lantern Walk. Be part of a holiday tradition that goes back to the time when military families lived on the Presidio. Once the tree is lit there will be a walk through the dark forest (bring your flashlight).
There are two choices of places to celebrate the first night of Chanukah.
Saturday, 12/8. Union Square, 5:30. San Francisco has always been known for its spirit of innovation and enlightenment. No surprise then that the first big menorah public celebration outside of Israel took place in Union Square in 1975. Named in honor of Bill Graham, who helped organize the first lighting, the festivities start Saturday night, 12/8 and continue to Saturday, 12/15.
Saturday, 12/8, Ghirardelli Square hosts its second annual Menorah lighting starting at 5:30 with a craft’s table for children, salt water taffy samples, music and then the lighting ceremony at 6:30.