2018 BARTable holiday events calendar

The most wonderful time of the year is around the corner! To properly prepare, check out our list of the best BARTable holiday events. This season’s highlights include tree and menorah lightings, “Nutcracker “performances on both sides of the Bay, ice skating and holiday themed dance parties (and you can win tickets for many of them!)

Featured Events

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair
Weekends, Nov. 17 to Dec. 23 (including the Friday after Thanksgiving)
Cow Palace, Daly City
Nearest BART: Glen Park + Free Shuttle
Enjoy a Victorian Christmas card come to life! Enter the world of Charles Dickens' Victorian London, where it's always Christmas Eve and the streets resound with revelry of the season. Lively calls of street vendors ring out and mingle with holiday carolers; tempting aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty foods fill the air; enticing shops overflow with one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts.

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread House
Nov. 23 to Jan. 1
The Fairmont, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Powell Street
The Fairmont elves are working overtime this season to create a hotel display like no other. Starting on Friday, Nov. 23 the hotel lobby transforms into one of the world’s most beloved holiday destinations, where the highlight will be the 25 feet high, 35 feet wide and 10 feet deep giant Gingerbread House in the hotel’s Grand lobby. Lovingly built with a completely edible exterior, this delectable abode will be unveiled during a ribbon cutting ceremony at the annual Gingerbread Open House on Nov. 23.

Fairmount Gingerbread House

Photo of a past Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread house, courtesy of the hotel’s Facebook page.

The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes
Nov. 29 to Dec. 23
Victoria Theater, San Francisco
Nearest BART: 16th Street MIssion
Take four talented drag performers, cast them in two new Christmas episodes of the uproariously funny TV show “The Golden Girls,” and you have an assured night of theater for the entire family. Now a yearly tradition, this loving tribute to the characters the entire world has come to know and love, features local drag stars: Heklina (Dorothy), Matthew Martin (Blanche), D’Arcy Drollinger (Rose), and Holotta Tymes (Sophia).

Swedish Christmas Fair
Saturday, Dec. 1, 9am to 4pm
1111 Gough St., San Francisco
Nearest BART: Civic Center/UN Plaza
Since 1984, the SWEA San Francisco has hosted an annual Christmas Fair – bringing a piece of Swedish Christmas to the Bay Area for a day! Visitors will have a unique opportunity to fill stockings with traditional crafts, imported gifts and delicacies from Scandinavia. There will also be Swedish folk music, dancing and colorful traditional regional Swedish costumes.

The Elf Party
Saturday, Dec. 1, 8pm
Broadway Studios, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Embarcadero
The Elf Party is back and in its 15th year running. There will be a place to take pictures with Santa Claus and a massive dance party in the front room all night long. Holiday costumes required!

Fairy Wonderland
Dec. 14-23, noon to 7pm (weather permitting)
Children’s Fairyland, Oakland
Nearest BART: 19th Street/Oakland
In December, Fairy Winterland celebrates the winter holidays of many cultures: Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Diwali, and Chinese New Year. Join Fairyland for stories, crafts, a festival of lights and a visit from Santa. Tickets cost $10 for adults and children over the age of 1.

Kung Pao Kosher Comedy
Dec. 23-25, 5pm (dinner show), 8pm (cocktail show)
New Asia Restaurant, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Montgomery St.
It’s an unwritten law that Jewish people who don’t celebrate Christmas go to Chinese restaurants on Christmas. Now in its 26th year, Kung Pao started out as a community service for Jewish people who were stuck on Christmas with nothing to do. The audience began as 99 percent Jewish and has expanded to include Chinese-Jewish couples, interfaith ones, singles, families, people in the LGBT community, those who are far from home and just generally people who like smart comedy mixed with Chinese food.

The Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square, located in downtown San Francisco near Powell Street BART Station. BARTable.

Free Events

Pier 39 Tree Lighting Celebration
Wednesday, Nov. 21, 5 to 9pm
Pier 39, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Embarcadero, transfer to Muni (F Line)
Experience the holiday magic at Pier 39 by enjoying local community performances, writing letters to Santa, and sipping on a cup of hot cocoa or a Holiday cocktail while shopping and dining in the area.

Ghirardelli Square Tree Lighting
Friday, Nov. 23, 4 to 9pm
Pier 39, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Embarcadero, transfer to Muni (F Line)
In celebration of its 54th Annual Tree Lighting, Ghirardelli Square will be kicking off the holiday season with carolers, Mr. Claus, snow, music by Kevin Toqe, and more fun festivities in the Square’s West Plaza. The event will be co-hosted by Betty Yu of CBS / KPIX and Franco Finn, the hype man of the Golden State Warriors.

Union Square Tree Lighting
Friday, Nov. 23, 5:30pm
Union Square, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Powell Street
Macy's 28th annual Tree Lighting will take place in Union Square Park between Sutter and Post and Geary and Stockton Streets, right across from the front of Macy's. The beautiful and reusable tree will be decorated with more than 43,000 twinkling energy-efficient LED lights and 700 shining ornaments. The tree will be lit at the end of the ceremony, around 6:50pm.

Holiday Parade of Lights, Open House and Tree Lighting
Thursday, Nov. 29, 6 to 9pm
Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek
Nearest BART: Walnut Creek
Music and festivity will fill Broadway Plaza, beginning with a Retailer Open House at 6pm. Make sure to find a good spot on Broadway Plaza Street for the Parade of Lights, which will end with a very special appearance by Santa Claus himself, who will light Broadway Plaza’s magical Christmas Tree and make it snow!

34th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
Thursday, Nov. 29, 7pm
Dublin Civic Center
Nearest BART: West Dublin/Pleasanton
Celebrate the start of the holiday season with the traditional lighting of the tree at the Dublin Civic Center. Enjoy lively seasonal entertainment and refreshments after the performance. Also, be on the lookout for a surprise appearance by a very special visitor from the North Pole!

Jack London Square Lights up for the Holidays
Friday, Nov. 30, 5 to 8pm
Foot of Broadway, Oakland
Nearest BART: 12th Street/Oakland City Center
Ring in the holiday season with Jack London Square's annual tree lighting festivities. Share in an enchanting evening on the Oakland waterfront with live music and entertainment performed by the talents of many Oakland musicians and arts groups. It’s free to attend, so enjoy a merry experience that includes Santa — of course — as well as the lighting of the 55-ft. Mount Shasta fir tree brightly lit with 5,000 sparkling lights, holiday pop-up shops, and festive drinks and treats for purchase.

Concord Tree-Lighting and Mayor’s Sing-Along
Saturday, Dec. 1, 4pm
Todos Santos Plaza, Concord
Nearest BART: Concord
Concord’s Tree-Lighting, Carriage Rides, Mayor’s Sing-Along and Santa’s Grand Arrival begins at 4pm (when Santa arrives) and on-stage entertainment — which includes school choirs and community entertainment — starts at 5pm. There will also be holiday sing-alongs and a traditional tree-lighting.

Deck the Hulls Yacht Parade
Saturday, Dec. 1, 5:30pm
Foot of Broadway, Oakland
Nearest BART: 12th Street/Oakland City Center
Bay Area boaters start the holiday season by decorating their boats of all sizes and cruise the Oakland/Alameda Estuary. Parade route is from the Oakland/SF Ferry to Grand Marina. View from the Oakland waterfront or your favorite Estuary restaurant.

Snow Day in the Berkeley Gourmet Ghetto
Sunday, Dec. 2, 10am to 3pm
1450-1500 Shattuck Avenue
Gourmet Ghetto, Berkeley
Nearest BART: Downtown Berkeley
Snow? In Berkeley? Bring boots and mittens to play in the snow. Visit the snow queen, make holiday crafts, enjoy hot cider and snacks and have the little ones ride a pony.

Bill Graham Menorah Day
Tuesday, Dec. 2, 4:30pm
Union Square, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Powell
The first giant public menorah went up in San Francisco’s Union Square, in 1975. Erected with the support of the late rock promoter and Holocaust survivor Bill Graham, it was known as the “mama” menorah because of the thousands of others it inspired globally. David & Alex Graham, Perry Farrell and Local Dignitaries will be in attendance, along with long-time Bill Graham colleagues. There will also be musical performances by: Jerry’s Kosher Deli plus other special guests. Kids craft activities will also be at the event, starting at 2pm.

Light Up the Season
Monday, Dec. 3, 3:30 to 8:30pm
Downtown Hayward and City Hall Plaza
Nearest BART: Hayward
Celebrate the season with a tree lighting in the City Hall Rotunda, plus photos with Santa, children’s rides, dancers, music and more.

It’s A Wonderful Life in Lafayette
Friday, Dec. 7, 4 to 6:30pm
Lafayette Plaza Park
Nearest BART: Lafayette
A community celebration that kicks off the holiday season, featuring a tree lighting, food, drinks, visits with Santa, one-of-a-kind photo ops with Town Hall elves and other entertainment.

It’s A Wonderful Night
Friday, Dec. 7, 5:30 to 9pm
Joaquin Plaza, San Leandro
Nearest BART: San Leandro
The clippity clop of horse hooves herald the annual “It’s A Wonderful Night” holiday celebration as horse-drawn carriages transport their passengers to another time and back again as they make their rounds through historic downtown San Leandro. Passengers may embark in Joaquin Plaza for the round-trip.

San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival and Parade
Saturday, Dec. 8, 5 to 9pm
Yerba Buena Lane, Jessie Square, St. Patrick’s Church, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Montgomery Street or Powell Street stations
It’s the time of the year again, when the community starts making their parol lanterns and holiday decor to adorn their houses for the yuletide season. In San Francisco the community will be holding the 16th Annual San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival – a must-see event during the holiday season.

Lighted Boat Parade
Friday, Dec. 14, 6 to 8pm
Pier 39, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Embarcadero, transfer to Muni (F Line)
The Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District and the St. Francis Yacht Club will join once again to present the oldest and largest lighted holiday boat parade on San Francisco Bay.

Ghirardelli Square annual Light the Menorah Celebration 
Time TBD
Pier 39, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Embarcadero, transfer to Muni (F Line)
Ghirardelli Square celebrates Hanukkah with the Annual Light the Menorah Celebration where visitors can join in lighting the first candle of the nine-foot Menorah – a celebration for the entire family.

Winter Carousel Lighting 
Time TBD
Children’s Creativity Museum, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Montgomery Street or Powell Street stations
Celebrate the lighting of the Bay Area’s historic and beloved carousel. This community event, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens, welcomes all ages to enjoy free rides on the LeRoy King Carousel, musical entertainment, ice skating performances, raffle prizes and more.

California Revels

Photo courtesy of California Revels’ website.

Arts, Theater, Music

Smuin’s “The Christmas Ballet
Nov. 16-17, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek
Dec. 13-24, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Walnut Creek or Montgomery St., depending on show
The weather outside may be frightful, but The Christmas Ballet is oh-so-delightful. This Bay Area favorite returns to kick off the holidays in 2018 with two acts packed to the brim with the best of both worlds: flawless classical ballet and red-hot contemporary numbers.

Contra Costa Ballet presents “Nutcracker”
Nov. 23 to 25
Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek
Nearest BART: Walnut Creek
Returning for its 28th year, Contra Costa Ballet presents the Bay Area’s most family-friendly production of the “Nutcracker.” For one weekend only, join Clara and her beloved nutcracker-turned-prince on a magical journey among giant mice and toy soldiers into the deliciously-delightful Candy Kingdom. Contra Costa Ballet brings the “Nutcracker” to life in this festive production filled with colorful costumes, whimsical sets and an array of talented, young dancers. This one-hour performance is an elegant introduction to the holiday classic.

San Francisco Symphony Holiday Concerts
Nov. 30 to Dec. 23
Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Civic Center/UN Plaza
The San Francisco Symphony presents a variety of holiday-themed concerts: The Nightmare Before Christmas from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, Cirque de la Symphonie on Dec. 5, A Merry-Achi Christmas on Dec. 9, Handel’s “Messiah” on Dec. 14 to 15 and ‘Twas the Night on Dec. 23. Check SF Symphony’s website for a complete calendar.

Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir
Dec. 1, 7pm
Paramount Theatre, Oakland
Nearest BART: 19th Street/Oakland
A holiday concert paying homage to the great city of Oakland and all its musical excellence, hosted by D’Wayne Wiggins of Tony! Toni! Tone! and featuring performances from the Oakland Interfaith Community Choir and Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir. Special guests Lauren Byrd and Josh Carter will also be performing, and there will also be ASL interpretation by Half-N-Half.

WiLD 94.9’s Jingle Ball
Dec. 1, 7:30pm
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Civic Center/UN Plaza
To kick off December, local radio station WiLD 94.9 is throwing its own Jingle Ball at Bill Graham, filled with big artists like Calvin Harris, 5 Seconds of Summer, Khalid and more.

Center REPertory Company presents “A Christmas Carol”
Dec. 6 to 16
Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek
Nearest BART: Walnut Creek
Brimming with music and dance, love and laughter, spectacular special effects and scary ghosts, it's no wonder the critics have called it "THE Christmas Carol to see in the Bay Area." Join the thousands who make this theatrical event a part of their annual holiday traditions.

ACT presents “A Christmas Carol”
Dec. 6 to 29
Geary Theater, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Powell Street
Featuring a lively cast of dozens, gorgeous costumes, and those deliciously spooky ghosts, the Bay Area's favorite holiday tradition returns with a sparkling, music-infused production of A Christmas Carol. Bring your family, bring your friends, and check your "humbugs" at the door!

San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
Dec. 7 to 8
Nourse Theater, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Powell Street
The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus embraces the delights of the season while delivering what you expect from SFGMC at the holidays – gorgeous music, jubilant production pieces and heartwarming moments. Once again, the Chorus brings its glorious singing and hilarious hijinks to the stage, whisking you away on a journey from the comfort and coziness of your seat all the way to the North Pole. This year’s show will be “Brassy and Sassy”; a brass quintet will be playing classical fare to swing to big band, and will be bringing a few new twists on holiday classics.

California Revels’ “Christmas Revels”
Dec. 8 to 16
Scottish Rite Theater, Oakland
Nearest BART: Lake Merritt
This year’s Christmas Revels celebrates the ancient andalusians of Spain. Three individuals — a young Moorish woman, a Sephardic Jew, and an elderly Castilian — happen to meet, each armed with a mysterious clue that is guiding them on a quest. They learn how each culture celebrates the Sun, the Moon, and the stars in song, dance, poetry and story. All three come to realize that despite the things that make each of us different and unique, in the end, we all live under the same sky. Come experience the 33rd annual Christmas Revels, one of the Bay Area’s most treasured holiday traditions.

SF Ballet presents “Nutcracker”
Dec. 12 to 29
War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Civic Center/UN Plaza
On Christmas Eve 1944, the audience at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House experienced the American premiere of Nutcracker. An instant sensation, the ballet launched a national holiday tradition. This holiday season, join us as the lights dim, the music soars, snowflakes swirl, flowers dance, and a little girl dreams about a whole new world in a Nutcracker that is as unique as it is magical. And it's only at SF Ballet.

Friday Nights @ OMCA - Winter Fest
Friday, Dec. 14
Oakland Museum of California, Oakland
Nearest BART: Lake Merritt
Celebrate diverse winter traditions reflected in the Bay Area, including Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa. Enjoy storytime with the Oakland Public Library, winter-themed activities, strolling carolers, and a special Balinese dance and music performance by Gamelan Sekar Jaya Ensemble. Create a candle to take home during the final Friday Nights @ OMCA for 2018.

California Symphony presents “‘Tis the Symphony”
Dec. 22, 4 and 8pm
Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek
Nearest BART: Walnut Creek
“The Snowman” — nominated for an Oscar in 1983 — is an animated short film about a boy who builds a snowman that then comes to life. It will be shown at the California Symphony, where guests can watch it on the big screen while the Symphony and the Pacific Boychoir Academy perform the soundtrack live. It’s a great way for holiday lovers of all ages to get into the spirit of the season.

African American Shakespeare Company presents “Cinderella”
Dec. 21 to 23
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Civic Center/UN Plaza
Back by popular demand, the holiday season once again sees the return of this heartwarming holiday show where Cinderella, a young, beautiful dreamer, toiling away as a lowly scullery maid to please her evil stepmother (and oddly masculine stepsisters) comes in contact with a Fairy Godmother who means business with a capital B. Aided by the help of a little bit of magic, Cinderella finds her Prince Charming and learns that anything—even miracles—are possible when you believe in yourself. This holiday treat for the entire family has been delighting audiences for over 24 years.

Oakland Ballet presents “Nutcracker”
Dec. 22 and 23
Paramount Theatre, Oakland
Nearest BART: 19th Street/Oakland
Oakland Ballet presents Graham Lustig’s “Nutcracker” at the Paramount Theatre with live music by the Oakland Symphony and Mt. Eden High School Women’s Ensemble. A holiday tradition that is fun for the entire family, brimming with holiday magic.

Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero Center, by the Ferry Building in Downtown San Francisco. Near Embarcadero BART Station. BARTable.

Ice Rinks

Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero Center
Nov. 5 to Dec. 21
Embarcadero Center, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Embarcadero
Delighting families, couples and ice skating enthusiasts for over 26 years, the Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero Center opens each winter for nine magical, fun-filled weeks. Get ready to skate under the sun and stars along the beautiful waterfront at the largest outdoor rink in San Francisco.

Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square
Nov. 7 to Jan. 21
Union Square, San Francisco
Nearest BART: Powell Street
The Holiday Ice Rink will be open from 10am to 11:30pm with 90-minute skating sessions starting on every even hour (10am, noon, 2pm … you get the idea). Admission is $18 for adults and $13 for children (eight and under). There will be various themed evenings throughout the season, such as “Drag Queens on Ice” and a “Silent Skate Party.”

Walnut Creek on Ice
Nov. 9 to Jan. 21
Civic Center Park, Walnut Creek
Nearest BART: Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek on Ice returns for its 14th season on Nov. 9, and is open Monday through Thursday noon to 8pm, Friday noon to 11pm, Saturday 11am to 11pm and Sunday 11am to 8pm. Take BART to Walnut Creek and catch County Connection Route 4, affectionately known to locals as the “Free Ride Trolley.” Yes, the trolley ride is free and drops you off right at the rink.

The Winter Park at Civic Center
Opens Nov. 30
Nearest BART: Civic Center/UN Plaza
A new winter-themed wonderland is coming to San Francisco. The Winter Park at Civic Center is scheduled to open Nov. 30 and will feature an ice rink outside of San Francisco City Hall. Admission is $20 for adults; $15 for children ages 8 and under

Don’t forget to share your ice skating adventures with us: #BARTableHolidays. 

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