16 Holiday Events To Make You Merry

Baby, it’s cold outside. The best excuse to get outdoors? Our decked-out city, alight with holiday soirées that only the Grinch would be crazy enough to consider skipping.
Whether you’re looking for a prime spot to spin that driedel or are itchin’ to lace up those ice skates, these 16 cheery gatherings will have you feeling oh-so-merry before you can say "figgy pudding." Read on for the not-so silent nights ahead.
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Photo: Courtesy of Art.com.
Art.Com Pop-Up Family Ornament Collage Workshop
Sure, store-bought ornaments will sparkle up your tree just fine, but we think handmade ones, especially by the cute tots in your life, really make this holiday magical. Bring your little ones to Art.com’s ornament workshop and craft together a bauble you’ll cherish long past the holiday season. And, this one’s a double whammy since you can shop the Petit Collage trunk show after.
When: Saturday, December 7, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: Art.Com Pop-Up, 117 Post Street (at Kearny Street); No phone.
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Photo: Courtesy of Union Square.
Union Square Ice Skating
Once the Union Square tree starts to shine, it’s time to lace up a pair of skates and hit the ice. Glide in hand with your love, race your friends to the other side, or show off your twisty tricks — however you prefer to loop around the rink, there’s no way you could miss out this year.
When: Daily, now through Monday, January 20, 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Where: Union Square Park, 333 Post Street (between Sutter and Post streets); 415-477-2610.
Cost: $7 to $11; available to purchase at the rink.

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Photo: Courtesy of Bi-Rite Market.
SFMade Holiday Gift Fair
S.F.ers know it doesn’t have to be Small Business Saturday for us to whip out the plastic for our favorite local shops. And, come the first weekend of December, they’ll all join forces at SFMade Holiday Gift Fair. A whopping 50+ vendors will be retailing their goodies, from bips and bops to chocolate and vino, at the Fort Mason Center for the ultimate locavore shopping event.
When: Saturday, December 7 through Sunday, December 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Fort Mason Center Fleet Room, 2 Marina Boulevard (at Laguna Street); 415-345-7500.
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Photo: Courtesy of American Conservatory Theatre.
A Christmas Carol
Missing out on the theatrical performance of A Christmas Carol would have us exclaiming, “Bah Humbug” a few times, to say the least. Seriously, this classic tale should always be in our past, present, and future holiday itineraries at the American Conservatory Theatre (or, until it disappears on December 28).
When: Friday, December 6 through Saturday, December 28.
Where: American Conservatory Theatre, 415 Geary Street (between Mason and Taylor streets); 415-749-2228.
Cost: $35 to $45; buy tickets
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Photo: Courtesy of Makeshift Society.
Makeshift Society Woodland Egg Ornaments Class
Even if your tree came out of a box, we found a way to spruce it up with some outdoorsy touches. At Makeshift Society’s ornament Woodland Egg Ornament workshop, you can create adorable baubles that resemble pine cones and acorns using chicken eggs and Italian floral crepe paper. The instructor is the mastermind behind the display currently hanging at Rare Device, so you know you’ll be learning from a paper-art whiz.
When: Thursday, December 5, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Makeshift Society, 235 Gough Street (between Fell and Oak streets); 415-625-3220.
Cost: $35; buy tickets here!
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Photo: Courtesy of Westfield Shopping Center.
Ballet Nutcracker Under The Dome
Think you have to get all dressed up in your fanciest threads to see some ballerinas working their moves? Nope. Turns out, you can just head under the dome at the Westfield Shopping Center in the evenings to see awe-inducing twirls of local ballerinas in its nutcracker light show. The spectacle is happening now and will continue to play on until the end of December, so you can get even more in the holiday spirit when taking a break from crossing off names on your shopping list.
When: Now through Tuesday, December 21, nightly.
Where: Westfield Shopping Center Under The Dome, 865 Market Street (between 4th and 5th streets); 415-495-5656.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nordstrom.
4U: Brite Lites_Gift City
For that friend that you can never seem to find the right gift for, there’s this shopping extravaganza: Nordstrom’s 4U: Brite Lites_Gift City (the techie name is so S.F.!) will have you shopping everything from Fuji cameras and Venessa Arizaga necklaces to Andy Warhol baby strollers and Jawbone Jamboxes in limited-edition colors. Show up to this pop-up and consider your holiday shopping dunzo!
When: Now through Friday, January 3, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Nordstrom, 865 Market Street (between 4th and 5th streets); 415-243-8500.

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Photo: Courtesy of Westin Verasa Napa.
Westin Verasa Napa Gingerbread House Competition
While baking adorable, button-clad gingerbread men is cute and all, it’d be heartless to let them go homeless! So, to show off your holiday baking skills, we suggest you enter the Gingerbread House Competition presented by the Westin Verasa Napa on December 15. The best “home sweet home” will win a dinner for two at La Toque and a one-night stay in a premium room at the hotel (the runner-up prizes are equally as covetable.) Then, you can eat the gingerbread men out of their home (but it might land you on the naughty list).
When: Sunday, December 15, 10:30 a.m. to noon.
Where: The Westin Verasa Napa, 1314 McKinstry Street (near Soscol Avenue); 707-257-1800.
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Photo: Courtesy of Top Of The Mark.
Top of the Mark Holiday Tea
When you need to take a break and refresh during your holiday shopping, we recommend strolling into Top of the Mark and sipping down some soothing brews at its Holiday Tea sessions. Not only will you get a caffeine buzz going, you’ll also nibble away at the selection of bites, including mini pumpkin cheesecakes, hazelnut crème puffs, and fresh fruit tarts. For the kiddos, book a table for the Magical Holiday Tea that comes with face painting, a magician, and dessert buffet.
When: Friday, November 29 through Monday, December 30.
Where: Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, 999 California Street (at Mason Street); 415-616-6916.
Cost: $40 to $50
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Photo: Courtesy of San Francisco Handmade Holiday Bazaar.
San Francisco Handmade Holiday Bazaar
If you don’t find that special trinket you have your heart set on at the previously mentioned fair, you can always try your luck at the San Francisco Handmade Holiday Bazaar happening the very same weekend. The free shopping event will showcase national vendors, all whipping up covetables by hand. Head out to Concourse Exhibition Center and pick up some novelties you’d never spot in a catalog.
When: Saturday, December 7 through Sunday, December 8, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Concourse Exhibition Center East Hall, 620 7th Street (at Brannan Street); No phone.
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Photo: Courtesy of Storenvy.
Storenvy Holiday Maverick Market
Imagine all your favorite local shops conjugating under one roof, just so you can get your holiday shop on. Actually, no need to daydream — it’s actually about to be a reality! Storenvy is hosting Holiday Maverick Market, gathering around over 30 Bay Area makers selling their creative, can't-find-anywhere-else goods. There will be free gift-wrapping, too, making sure your pressies are the prettiest under the tree.
When: Wednesday, December 4, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Crocker Galleria, 50 Post Street (at Sutter Street); No phone.
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Photo: Courtesy of Cuyana.
Cuyana Showroom Holiday Shopping
What could be better than scoring a luxe cashmere sweater (sourced from Scotland!) from one of our most beloved lines? Doing so while nibbling on tasty bites and bopping to holiday tunes, of course! Ethical fashion label Cuyana will be opening up its Union Square showroom every weekend for us to partake in the fashionable fun. And, when you find that perfect pressie, Cuyana will wrap it up so nice and pretty, your special someone won’t even want to tear it away.
When: Weekends, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Cuyana, 291 Geary Street (at Powell Street); 888-993-9092.
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Photo: Courtesy of the Westfield Shopping Centre.
Festival of Lights
Get your menorahs ready, because the Festival of Lights celebration is going down early next week on the final day of Hanukkah. A Rabi will be presiding over the traditional Jewish ceremony, and you’ll get to munch of delectable bites while spinning that driedel.
When: Wednesday, December 4, at 6 p.m.
Where: Westfield Shopping Center Under The Dome, 865 Market Street (between 4th and 5th streets); 415-495-5656.
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Photo: Courtesy of Union Square.
Macy’s Annual Tree Lighting
To us, the holidays are all about achieving that warm, fuzzy feeling. Combine that with the magical, annual tradition of the tree lighting in Union Square, and you’ve got yourself the ultimate festive fête. Take a break from your frantic Black Friday shopping and catch the illuminating display that will light up your world.
When: Friday, November 29, at 6 p.m.
Where: Union Square Park, 333 Post Street (between Sutter and Post streets); 415-477-2610.
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Photo: Courtesy of Westin St. Francis.
Extraordinary Sugar Castle Unveiling
The extraordinary sugar castle created by executive pastry chef Jean-Francois Houdré will (inevitably) put your gingerbread house to shame. To see his mastery culinary work in person — and to show that there are no hard feelings — turn up to the official unveiling of the saccharine palace this Thursday at the Westin St. Francis. Just try to refrain yourself from taking a bite!
When: Wednesday, November 27, at 11 a.m.
Where: Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell Street (between Geary and Post streets); 415-397-700.
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Photo: Courtesy of Great Dickens Christmas Fair.
Great Dickens Christmas Fair
Whether you can recite every line of A Christmas Carol or not, odds are, you’re bound to have some jolly good fun at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. The setting is rife with charming 18th-century British décor and is littered with a cast full of actors who never break character and that perform plays and roam around interacting with guests. After catching one of the many theatrical productions, head over to the gypsies for a little future forecasting, sit down at the formal tea parlor, or nosh on bangers and mash. We would wager that even Scrooge himself would leave feeling pretty merry.
When: Every weekend through Monday, December 23, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Avenue (at Calgary Street); 415-892-4039.
Cost: $3 with advance purchase online for the first three weeks; $25 to $30 for adults; $2 to $15 for kiddos depending which weekend.