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Things to Do in the Bay Area During the Holidays

Many folks aren’t aware that the Bay Area transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, despite its Mediterranean climate.

holiday activities in bay

It’s not just about shopping and dining; the area boasts a multitude of unique holiday experiences, from stunning light displays in every corner of the city to ice skating in picturesque settings.

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There’s a plethora of concerts and performances for the culturally inclined, and even the chance to welcome the New Year with a bang at the numerous celebratory events.

Curious about what the Bay Area has to offer this holiday season? Let’s explore further to uncover these festive gems.

Key Takeaways

  • The Bay Area offers a variety of holiday events and performances, including the Charlie Brown Christmas performance by the San Francisco Symphony and Smuin’s The Christmas Ballet.
  • Festive tree lighting and ice skating are popular activities during the holidays, with options such as the tree lighting at Civic Center Plaza and ice skating in Union Square.
  • There are several holiday celebrations and activities to enjoy, such as the Merry Healdsburg Tree Lighting Celebration and Navidad en Mexico in San Leandro.
  • Light displays and attractions, such as Glowfari at Oakland Zoo and the LED light installation at Golden Gate Park’s Peacock Meadow, provide enchanting experiences during the holidays.

Holiday Events in San Francisco

festive celebrations in sf

From the enchanting Charlie Brown Christmas performance by the San Francisco Symphony to the Civic Center Plaza’s festive tree lighting, there’s a plethora of holiday events in San Francisco guaranteed to fill your season with cheer.

Located in the heart of the Bay Area, San Francisco boasts a vibrant holiday season. Union Square, for instance, becomes a winter wonderland with ice skating beneath a dazzling Christmas tree. Smuin’s The Christmas Ballet brings a mix of dance and music, sparking the holiday spirit.

Families can also enjoy 8 Days of Hanukkah Fitness Fun, adding a unique twist to San Francisco’s holiday events. Finally, don’t miss the San Francisco Men’s Chorus Holiday Spectacular, a memorable performance that wraps up the city’s holiday festivities.

Festive Activities in North Bay

holiday fun in north bay

If you’re heading to North Bay during the holiday season, you’re in for a treat with numerous festive activities on offer. The Merry Meritage ice skating pop-up rink at Meritage Resort is a fun-filled experience enjoyable by all ages. Don’t miss the Merry Healdsburg Tree Lighting Celebration, a magical evening with lights, music, and carriage rides. Dress in your finest at the Hotel Healdsburg’s Holiday Tea and savor custom teas and treats. For a touch of North Pole magic, hop aboard the Santa Train in Suisun City. And for a truly unique experience, book a private igloo at Merry Meritage. These activities, just a short drive from San Francisco, will make your holiday season in North Bay a Christmas to remember.

East Bay’s Christmas Celebrations

festive holiday events in east bay

While North Bay offers a Christmas wonderland, across the Golden Gate Bridge, East Bay’s holiday celebrations radiate with cultural diversity and vibrant festive spirit.

San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza brings holiday light with a family-friendly tree lighting. Treats, live music, and a visit from Santa make it a Winter Wonderland.

Martinez and Brentwood host Menorah Lighting events, adding to East Bay’s festive glow.

For those seeking traditional experiences, Navidad en Mexico in San Leandro features a Posada and Ballet Folkloric Show. Don’t forget to browse local shops for unique gifts and holiday pop-up surprises.

South Bay Seasonal Attractions

seasonal attractions in south bay

Venturing further south, the joyous spirit of the holiday season envelops the South Bay, where a range of festive attractions await the merry-hearted visitor.

In the heart of San Jose, the Holiday Ice Rink shines under the city lights, providing a classic winter experience for kids and adults alike.

For those seeking a unique spectacle, Palo Alto offers enchanting light displays, including the interactive Glowfari at Oakland Zoo.

Meanwhile, Santa Cruz presents holiday specials such as the San Francisco Symphony’s Charlie Brown Christmas, a festive musical treat for the whole family.

From ice rinks to stunning light displays and heartwarming music, the South Bay ensures a memorable holiday season for all.

Peninsula’s Holiday Highlights

exploring a coastal paradise

After soaking up the festive spirit in the South Bay, you’ll find the holiday cheer continues unabated as you traverse the San Francisco Peninsula, a region known for its rich array of unique holiday highlights.

Union Square and San Mateo become winter wonderlands, hosting holiday ice rinks. The Westin St. Francis displays an enchanting Sugar Castle, while Golden Gate Park’s Peacock Meadow features an immersive LED light installation.

The Peninsula’s family-friendly festivities include the Noon Years Eve celebration and concerts by the San Francisco Symphony and Men’s Chorus. Don’t miss the Great Dickens Fair, Christmas in the Park, or the mesmerizing Garden of dLights at Temple Hill.

Each event ensures a memorable New Years Eve, making the Peninsula a holiday destination like no other.


From San Francisco’s festive fêtes to North Bay’s novelty nooks, the Bay Area brims with holiday happenings.

East Bay echoes with enchanting Christmas cheers, while South Bay sparkles with seasonal sights.

Peninsula’s picturesque points get a festive facelift, making the holidays here heartwarming.

So, whether you’re seeking sugarplum sweets or savoring spectacular soirees, the Bay Area has a bouquet of holiday delights to bedazzle and bewitch.

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