30+ Holiday pop-ups, parades, and performances in the Bay Area

The holiday season is just around the corner. Pretty soon, wreaths and twinkle lights will adorn houses, Santas will ho-ho on downtown corners and the smell of hot cocoa will waft through the air. If you’re looking for ways to join the festivities, look no further. From Christmas plays and holiday parades to ice rinks and pop-ups, there are countless ways to celebrate this wonderful time of year around the Bay Area. Here’s just a sampling.

Après Village & Skate Rink: 4 to 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday through Feb. 25, Four Seasons Silicon Valley, 2050 University Ave., East Palo Alto. Simulating a cosy mountainside retreat with mini-chalets and a new outdoor skate rink, this seasonal pop-up features a festive, family-friendly village like no other. Grab some hot cocoa and get your camera ready for the “snow globe” and winter sleigh photo experiences, too. $20-$30 skate rink admission, other prices vary. fourseasons.com/siliconvalley/landing-pages/property/apres-village/

Annual BayLUG Holiday Show featuring LEGO: Select days Nov. 1 to Jan. 15, Museum of American Heritage, 351 Homer Ave., Palo Alto. BayLUG and BayLTC’s imaginative holiday displays change each year. This year, the show’s theme celebrates Dia De Los Muertos with a LEGO® Display inspired by Disney Pixar’s Film “Coco.” $4. baylug.org/holiday-show/

Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square is lit up for the holiday season (Courtesy Prismatic Communications)
Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square is lit up for the holiday season (Courtesy Prismatic Communications) 

Safeway Holiday Ice Rink: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Nov. 2 to Jan. 16, Union Square, San Francisco. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink is set in San Francisco’s bustling Union Square. The rink’s roster of events includes the return of the highly anticipated Drag Queens On Ice, Flashback Fridays and Polar Bear Skate, plus some new events for the 2022 season. $15-$20. unionsquareicerink.com/

Illuminate SF Festival of Light: Nov. 9 through January, various San Francisco locations. Embrace the power of light this winter with a tour of one of the country’s most extensive permanent collections of light art. For Illuminate SF’s 10th annual celebration, the city will shine bright with more than 40 luminous public artworks by internationally renowned light artists. Free. illuminatesf.com/home-page

Diablo Ballet Presents ‘The Nutcracker Suite’: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11-12, Lesher Center for the Arts, Hofmann Theatre, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek. Diablo Ballet’s 29th season opens with an expanded full-length production of Julia Adam’s smash holiday hit, “The Nutcracker Suite.” Each year since its 2019 premiere, Adam has expanded on her original concept, creating new characters and adding new dances to her original ballet. $25-$52. diabloballet.org/

Merry Meritage: Nov. 11 to Jan. 8, The Meritage Resort and Spa, 875 Bordeaux Way, Napa. The Merry Meritage ice rink will be open daily for guests and locals to show off their skating skills and embrace the winter season. The resort’s event lineup also includes snow days, artisan holiday markets, a tree lighting ceremony, tinsel teas and Santa visits. $25 rink admission, other event prices vary. meritageresort.com/holiday-ice-rink

CCA Homecoming and Holiday Fair: 1 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 19, California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth St., San Francisco. Join festivities at this street party with food trucks, music and a petting and drawing zoo, in addition to the annual Holiday Fair featuring handmade goods for sale from alumni, students, faculty and staff. Free admission. bayareane.ws/3SxLIVz

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends Nov. 19 to Dec. 18, Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Ave., Daly City. Open to the public, “Vauxhall Gardens” features a beautifully decorated Victorian park-like setting with a skating rink, holiday beverages and Christmas tree sales. Those with tickets to the fair may continue to the lower exhibit halls to immerse themselves in the new wonders and delightful traditions of Dickensian London, overflowing with holiday-themed shops, pubs, stages and dance halls. $25-$45 fair admission; free admission to the gardens. dickensfair.com/

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Guests admire Filoli Estate’s light decorations for the 2021 holiday season Robb Most) 

Holidays at Filoli: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 19 through Dec., 86 Cañada Road, Woodside. Take in this premier Bay Area light attraction where thousands of glittering lights will adorn the estate garden’s trees, plants and hedges for a must-see experience. Don’t forget to check out Santa Days, when Saint Nick arrives at his festive golden throne in Filoli’s exquisitely decorated Woodland Court for family photos and magical memories. $24-$40. filoli.org/events/holidays/

Holiday Chocolate Salon: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 20, San Francisco County Fair Building, 1199 Ninth Ave., San Francisco. Chocolate aficionados can taste and experience the finest in artisan, gourmet and premium chocolate at this salon, which includes more than 25 chocolatiers, confectioners and other culinary artisans. $11.50-$20. bayareane.ws/3TEgT2O

A Merry-Achi Christmas: 3 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 25, Hammer Theatre Center, 101 Paseo De San Antonio, San Jose. The holiday season roars into the Hammer Theatre Center with the blazing sounds of the Grammy nominated Mariachi Sol de Mexico presenting a fiesta of favorite holiday tunes from both sides of the border. $34-$45. hammertheatre.com/

The Golden Girls Live! The Christmas Episodes: Nov. 25 to Dec. 23, The Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., San Francisco. Take four San Francisco drag legends, cast them in two parody Christmas episodes of the uproarious TV show, “The Golden Girls,” and you have the perfect holiday event for the entire family. In what has become a yearly tradition, this drag send-up offers a heartfelt tribute to the characters the entire world has come to know and love. $40-$60. bayareane.ws/3DxGzZr

An Irish Christmas: Nov. 25 to Dec. 23, various locations. This holiday production features an award-winning cast of dancers, musicians and singers celebrating with holiday carols and spectacular Irish holiday traditions, such as chasing the wren, butter-making, and dancing on the half-door. Prices vary according to venue. kerryirishproductions.com/an-irish-christmas-tour-schedule

Christmas in the Park: Nov. 25 through December, Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park, 1 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose. Christmas in the Park is back with a downtown walk-through that includes lights, trees, exhibits, performances, displays and hot chocolate. In addition, a Holiday Drive Through offers a fantastic light show programmed to music by Pentatonix, Michael Bublé, Luis Miguel and more. Park admission is free, drive through is $30 per car (reservations are a must). christmasinthepark.com/p/about/2020-christmas-in-the-park

Ice Skating by the Bay: Nov. 25 to Jan. 1, Custom House Plaza, Monterey. Celebrate the holidays at this seasonal ice skating rink. Skaters can spend the day in a winter wonderland next to the glittering bay. $13-$15. iceskatingbythebay.com/

Holiday Sparkle Sip & Shop: 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 26, Main Street, Downtown Martinez. Taste wine and pick up holiday gifts during this festival holiday stroll through Downtown Martinez. A community Christmas tree lighting will follow the event. $35-$40. bayareane.ws/3svMurv

Downtown San Rafael’s Parade of Lights & Winterwonderland: 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 26, 1000 Fourth St., Downtown San Rafael. This one-block event includes a Makers Marketplace, snow cones, carolers, food trucks, a juggler and other kids entertainment, including an Elf Hunt. Free admission. bayareane.ws/3DsgmdJ

Holiday Market Pop-Up at DECANT SF: 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 26, 1168 Folsom St., San Francisco. Discover unique gifts for friends, family or yourself at this pop-up holiday Market. Free admission. bayareane.ws/3N6iCvq

Holidays at the Fairmont: Nov. 26 to Jan. 1, 950 Mason St., San Francisco. For more than a century, Fairmont San Francisco has enchanted guests with its joyful holiday festivities and exuberant seasonal ambience. This year, the Fairmont elves have transformed the lobby into a wonderland that includes a giant Gingerbread House adorned in thousands of See’s Candies in the hotel’s grand lobby. Lobby is free to enter, prices vary for specific holiday events. fairmont-san-francisco.com/explore/holidays/

Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz-Carlton (Courtesy Ritz-Carlton)
Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz-Carlton (Courtesy Ritz-Carlton) 

Teddy Bear Tea: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. select dates Nov. 26 to Dec. 23, The Ritz-Carlton, 600 Stockton St., San Francisco. The Teddy Bear Tea festivities will treat young guests, ages 2-11, to a teddy bear in a room filled with festive entertainment,  photo opportunities and holiday “eye candy” as far as the imagination goes. $172 per guest. ritzcarlton.com/sanfrancisco

Hella Plants Holiday Market: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 27, 935 Carleton St., Berkeley. Join the festivities at the Ciel Creative Space, where the holiday market offers plants, vegan treats and more. $5-$30. bayareane.ws/3Dcc5uN

Let’s Glow SF: 5 to 10 p.m. Dec. 2-11, downtown San Francisco. Let’s Glow SF returns to San Francisco with an outdoor holiday light arts festival and illuminations splashed across some of downtown’s most notable buildings. This signature event, organized by the Downtown SF Partnership with A3 Visual, is the largest holiday projection arts festival in the United States. Free. downtownsf.org/events/letsglowsf

Peninsula Harmony Company performs at Christmas on the Warf 2021 (Courtesy Brickman Marketing)
Peninsula Harmony Company performs at Christmas on the Warf 2021 (Courtesy Brickman Marketing) 

Christmas on the Wharf: Weekends Dec. 2-18, Old Fisherman’s Wharf, 201 Washington St., Monterey. Choirs, carolers and other holiday musical entertainment will fill the wharf, adorned with holiday lights and decorations, a 23-foot Christmas tree, holiday-themed inflatables and giant holiday-lighted sea life animals. Free admission. montereywharf.com/

Mark Foehringer’s Nutcracker Sweets: select days and times Dec. 3-18, Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd., San Francisco. Mark Foehringer’s Nutcracker Sweets is a 50-minute version of the classic specifically designed for families with young children. The production features a nine-piece chamber orchestra with Keisuke Nakagoshi as the pit conductor, Carlos Venturo as Drosselmeyer, Vincent Chavez as the nephew/nutcracker and Theresa Knudson (Ballet 22) performing the role of Clara for the first time. $20-$45. mfdpsf.org/nutcracker-sweets/

Sweater-Con 2022 – San Francisco Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl: 4 to 10 p.m. Dec. 3, Mayes Oyster House, 1233 Polk St., San Francisco. Join this jolly ‘ol Holiday Pub Crawl complete with cheap drinks, sketchy holiday decorations and even a few gifts for some lucky crawlers. No matter how you celebrate the holidays, throwing back beers, holiday drinks and cruising from bar to bar is something that can be enjoyed by all. $5-$35. bayareane.ws/3gIPyxL

‘It’s a Wonderful Life in Lafayette’: 4:40 to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4, Sideboard Lafayette, 3537 Plaza Way, Lafayette. This holiday celebration is a time to share holiday cheer with the community, complete with Santa sightings, free train rides on the Lafayette Express, one-of-a-kind photo ops, live entertainment, kids crafts, holiday treats and more. Free admission. bayareane.ws/3W23svj

Cool Yule: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, Hammer Theatre Center, 101 Paseo De San Antonio, San Jose. Bay Area jazz lovers are in for a treat this December when the San José State University Jazz Orchestra brings Cool Yule, a jazz concert that mixes mainstream jazz repertoire with holiday classics, to the center. Directed by Grammy Award-winning baritone saxophonist and composer Aaron Lington, this diverse group of SJSU music majors give holiday classics a unique spin sure to put audiences in a mellow holiday mood. $30. hammertheatre.com

Hometown Holidays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 6, Courthouse Square, Downtown Redwood City. Enjoy a traditional holiday parade, live entertainment, food and craft vendors, carnival rides, Santa Claus photos and more. Free admission. hometownholidays.org/

Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre presents ‘The Nutcracker’: 1 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 10-11, Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. This holiday favorite is the only ‘Nutcracker’ production in Santa Cruz County featuring a live orchestra, with 52 professional musicians conducted by Pamela Martin, some 50 local pre-professional dancers and two world-class guest artists including SCBT alumni and Houston Ballet Principal dancer Melody Mennite as the Sugar Plum Fairy. $20.50-$71.50. scbt.org/

A Celtic Christmas: 3 p.m. Dec. 11, Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. A Celtic Christmas brings traditional Irish musicians and dancers to enthralled audiences across the country. In this recreation of age-old tradition, neighbors bring their fiddles, tin whistles, flutes, bodhráns, uilleann pipes and perhaps most important of all, their unshakeable sense of community, for a night of traditional music, song, dance and of course, storytelling. $34-$49. bit.ly/3LPlfB1

Dollie + Me Holiday Tea: 12 to 2 p.m. Dec. 17-18, The Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell St., San Francisco. Families are invited to gather for a festive afternoon full of holiday tea, Dollie + Me crafting, + Fa-La-La-La fun at the festively decorated Westin St. Francis on Union Square. Adults will enjoy a full tea service and champagne, while children enjoy a special tea experience of hot chocolate, sweet treats and assorted tea sandwiches. $90. bayareane.ws/3WayNw3

‘The San Jose Nutcracker’: 7 p.m Dec. 16, California Theatre, 345 S. First St., San Jose. Presented in partnership with History San Jose, “The San Jose Nutcracker” is a magical holiday experience performed by New Ballet and accompanied by a live professional orchestra that transports the well-loved story to turn-of-the-century San Jose, with historical references that highlight our valley setting as a birthplace of innovation. $25-$95. newballet.com/nutcracker