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MONTEREY-christmas in the adobes-c Wayne Holden, courtesy of CVB

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Best Christmas Lights and Sights
in San Francisco Area

article and images by Carole Terwilliger Meyers

I’ve always enjoyed all the wonderful Christmas sights and events in the Bay Area and have written about them since my very first book, which was actually a booklet, titled “Getting in the Spirit:  A Guide to Bay Area Christmas Events.” This page is inspired by that and by my past guest appearances on John Hamilton’s On-The-Go talk show on KGO.  Here are some of the best seasonal lights, sights, and events for you to get out there and enjoy!


 Listen to Carole talk about Bay Area seasonal events with John Hamilton

Christmas Lights
photographer unknown

animated gif-Christmas tree
see some spectacular light displays
in San Francisco
Illuminate SF Festival of Light
This lighting extravaganza takes place all around the town.  It consists of 37 eco-friendly light installations (27 are permanent) in 17 San Francisco neighborhoods.

in two small neighborhoods in Pleasanton

Christmas Cane Lane
4000 block of Walnut Dr./Ray St.  5:30-10pm, through Jan. 1.  Free. 
Almost every house on this cul-de-sac goes way overboard with lights and decorations.  Cars move slowly around the entire perimeter.  A delight.

Widmer World
3671 Chelsea Court.  6-9pm, through Dec. 31.  Free.
34th year!  You can walk through this home's computer-controlled acre of back yard musical and moving holiday scenes.  The display includes an electronic light show, snowy penguin scene, Mrs. Claus house, Santa's golf land, and a train town.  Santa sometimes shows up on the last weekend before Christmas.

in your own neighborhood

          at the zoo
ZooLights at Oakland Zoo

(510) 632-9525.  ZooLights is not included in regular Zoo admission; additional fee.
Visit the zoo at night to see this holiday light display featuring hundreds of thousands of sparkling lights illuminating the evening sky. 

at a San Francisco hotel
Hyatt Regency San Francisco

animated gif-Christmas treeview a live Nativity
Oakland Mormon Temple
4766 Lincoln Ave., (510) 531-1475.  Free. 
A spectacular bay view is included. 

SF-Annual Events-Dickens Fair-Dickens Family Parlour-c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers-300pix

animated gif-Christmas treefrolic at a Christmas fair
Great Dickens Christmas Fair
In South San Francisco, adjacent to Cow Palace, (800) 510-1558.  Fee.  No pets.
See “A Christmas Carol” brought to life at this re-creation of Christmas in Victorian London.  After playing spirited parlour games, purchasing some fine yuletide gifts, and feasting on period food and drink, even the grumpiest Scrooge will capture the season’s spirit.  Entertainment is continuous and includes parades, theatrical performances, and caroling--even dancing with Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig and guests at their celebrated party.  And as if this isn't enough, Her Majesty Queen Victoria and consort Prince Albert always attend.  Visitors are encouraged to dress in period costume. 
More description and images.

animated gif-Christmas treesee a magnificent tree
Neiman Marcus
In San Francisco.  Free.


animated gif-Christmas tree
check in with Santa
Macy’s  170 O’Farrell St.
Westfield San Francisco Centre  865 Market St.

animated gif-Christmas tree
purchase some last-minute gifts
in San Francisco
135 Post St./Kearney St., 2 blks. to Union Square.

in Berkeley

Telegraph Ave Holiday Street Fair
Between Dwight and Bancroft.  Free.
Root beer soap, tie-dye everything, music, food.

Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios
This self-guided tour allows participants to meet the artists in their studios and to purchase quality gifts. 

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adopt a Christmas kitty
See the cute SFSPCA kitties in the windows at Macy's
In San Francisco.  Free.  And while you’re in the area, stroll Union Square to see the window displays and lights.

SF-Union Square-Christmas-ice skating rink 1-c2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers-200pix

animated gif-Christmas tree
go ice skating
Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square

animated gif-Christmas treevisit the San Francisco legacy hotels for some spectacular events
SF-Fairmont-Christmas-gingerbread house-c2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers-iPhone-300pix
stroll through a gingerbread house
Fairmont Hotel 950 Mason St./California St..  Free. 
You can actually walk through this two-story gingerbread house in the hotel’s lobby, and it smells as delicious as it looks!  The hotel also schedules a Holiday Gingerbread Tea and a Tonga Room New Year’s Eve Luau.

SF-Mark Hopkins-Top of the Mark-Christmas tea 9-c2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers-300pix
drink the 12 cocktails of Christmas and take time for tea
InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco
  999 California St./Mason St., at the Top of the Mark.  Fee.
Each cocktail comes with a keepsake charm.  Holiday Teas featuring individual 3-tiered trays holding tea sandwiches, scones, and sweets  are also scheduled. 

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animated gif-Christmas tree
cut your own Christmas tree
website 1
website 2

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go over the hills and through the woods
to Nevada City for a Victorian Christmas
to Grass Valley for a Cornish Christmas

Julefest in Solvang

animated gif-Christmas treemore San Francisco Christmas events
Grace Cathedral
San Francisco Symphony performs “Messiah”

(for all of the events below--click, then scroll down to “December”)
A Christmas Carol
Golden Gate Park Christmas Tree Lighting
Guardsmen Christmas Tree Sale
Nutcracker ballet
Union Square window displays

animated gif-Christmas treemore Bay Area Christmas events
Christmas in the Park (San Jose)
Holidays at Filoli (Woodside)
Shadi Holiday Display (El Cerrito)

animated gif-Christmas tree
The best things to do in San Francisco on Christmas Day

Carole Terwilliger Meyers  blogs at Travels With Carole.
copyright 2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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