December in San Francisco: Top Festivals, Weather & Things to Do

December in San Francisco is usually prepping up for the winter holiday season, with Christmas and New year just around the corner. It is a merry and jolly vibe all through the town. There are numerous events and celebrations that are happening in every nook and corner of the bay's fog city. 

Weather in San Francisco in December

Rains in San Francisco
December in California is chilly and rainy. Unless you are visiting Lake Tahoe, you won't get to witness any snow. It is a cloudy month with drizzles of rain, and it is prone to winter storms as well. There are almost 9-10 hrs of daylight, so there is plenty of time to explore the city wrapped in your warm shawls and sweaters!
Maximum temperature: 14-degree celsius
Minimum temperature: 8-degree celsius
Rainfall: 3.1 inch 

Festivals and Celebrations in December in San Francisco

1. Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies

Christmas tree lighting
The Christmas tree lighting ceremonies at Union Square, Pier 39, Macy's square, and Ghirardelli square is a must-watch if you are in the city for the holiday season. The beautiful trees with thousands of lights and ornaments, the holiday music playing, and the holiday treats are a must-have experience. And if you are lucky enough, you might spot Santa dancing too!

2. Great Dickens Christmas fair

The Great Dickens Christmas fair is a time travel experience back to Victorian England. This themed fair is held at Cow Palace in Daly City. There are over 800 performers who will be giving theatrical performances on the stage. The fair with its live music, dance parties, food stalls, people all decked up in clothes from the Victorian era is a brilliant experience for kids and adults alike.

3. Lighted Boat Parade

Lighted boat
The light boat parade in San Francisco has been a tradition since 1994. It is one of the largest and oldest parades in the bay area. The members of the different boat and yacht clubs like the Golden Gate Yacht club and Fisherman's Wharf Fishing Fleet take part in the parade. The decked and decorated boats start off the waterfront near Pier 39. Visitors line up along the bay to witness this event.

4. San Francisco's Nutcracker Ballet

The San Francisco Nutcracker Ballet was a tradition that began way back on Christmas eve in 1944. It was the first full-length production of the nutcracker in the US. It is one of the magical ways for the families of tourists and natives to enjoy the holiday season and a must visit in San Francisco in December. The lights, the romantic snowfall, the winter treats provide a wholesome touch to this iconic ballet performance.

5. Santa Con

Santa con
SantaCon is a flash mob experience where the natives and visitors dress up as Santa Claus and tour through the streets visiting major attractions, singing along the way, and making merry. They also each bring a gift and donate it at the fire station for underprivileged kids. It is a super fun event to experience and be a part of the crowd.

6. Illuminate SF

The Illuminate San Francisco festival contains 43 installations of light art across 17 neighborhoods in the city. Over 30 light artists make it. The city looks alive with these lights after the sun goes down. The whole festive vibe from Thanksgiving to New year can be experienced through the vibrance of these lights. These glowing sculptures and buildings display the strength of light.

Places to Visit in San Francisco in December 

1. Shopping And Skating At Union Square

Ice Skating
The union square is the center of the best Christmas decorations, events, and shows. Shop till you drop around the union square center with all the global brands. The ice skating rink is a major attraction in the union square for people of all ages. There are silent skate parties, polar bear skate, performances by ice drag queens, and so much more.

2. Japanese Tea Garden

The Japanese tea garden in San Francisco is one of the oldest tea gardens in America. It was established in 1894 as a showcase of a Japanese Village. The waterfall, the lanterns, the koi ponds, lakes, the arched drum bridge, and the beauty of the Japanese plants and trees add to the garden's serene and tranquil experience. It is a beautiful amalgamation of history and creativity encapsulated in those 5 acres of land.

3. Zoolights

Zoo Lights
During the holiday season, the San Francisco zoo is lit up with thousands of beautiful lights. The whole zoo shines with the festive cheer. After sundown, families go there with their kids to walk through the zoo with Christmas treats and enjoy the beauty, games, and market place. It is a magical experience with the twinkling lights and reindeers, something that people of all ages thoroughly enjoy.

4. Cable car rides

The cable car rides are a must-have touristy experience if you are in the city. It is one of the only rolling monuments in North America. The most popular Powell Hyde line takes you through Lombard street ( which is the most crooked street in the world) to Russian street. It is a jolly ride that can be enjoyed while viewing the city's aesthetics.

5. Alcatraz Prison

Alcatraz Prison
The Alcatraz Prison is an off coast prison in the bay area, and so you get to go there by ferry. Even though the prison has been closed for years now, the prisoners have left their mark, and you can also witness the way they lived. A self-guided audio tour tells you the historical tales of this prison. It also provides you interesting facts that will leave you in awe.

Tips for a December Holiday in SF

  •  The weather can make or break your trip, so look the forecast up before planning and scheduling the events for your trip.
  • Don't forget your warm clothes. The weather is quite chilly in December, so your sweaters, socks, and knit caps are a must. Also, don't forget to carry a handy umbrella to avoid getting drenched in the drizzles.
  • Even though airfare and hotel bookings are at a discounted rate during December, it is better if you'd book a couple of weeks in advance.
  • Purchasing a 'City pass discount card' is a way to save money on the entrance fee to various museums, cruise rides, and tourist attraction spots in the city. It also gives you an unlimited commute for three days on streetcars, buses, cable cars, and light trains too.
Winter in San Francisco

Being the month of Christmas, December in San Francisco is buzzing with activities and experiences. Take a trip to the Bay Area and spend an exciting Christmas there!

This post was published by Devarchita Sen

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