Brilliant holiday displays in the Bay Area

The Fairmont Gingerbread House in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Travel + Leisure.

This year, we could all use some more light in our lives. Thankfully, there are still plenty of dazzling illuminated holiday displays right here in the Bay. From the wonderfully whimsical to the garishly gaudy, choose BART as your sleigh to experience these spectacles.

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The Union Square Menorah Lighting begins Nov. 28. Photo courtesy of The Jewish News of Northern California.

Chanukah in Union Square

Join the Bill Graham Menorah Project for their 46th year of lighting the menorah in Union Square. This year, the event will be in person as well as streaming virtually. The schedule of events includes a 5pm nightly lighting ceremony from Nov. 28-Dec. 6, dreidel house kids crafts, music, and more. See the full schedule.

When: Nov. 28-Dec. 6
Where: 333 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94108
Station: Powell St
Walk time: Four minutes 
Website: Bill Graham Menorah Project

Christmas Tree Lane in Alameda. Photo courtesy of SFGate.

Christmas Tree Lane, Alameda

The Christmas spirit comes to life on this lively, lit-up block in Alameda that has the whole package: beautiful lights, friendly neighbors and people strolling—and it's been going on since 1938! Decades later, the street is now known as Christmas Tree Lane and draws people from all over the Bay Area with its extravagant light displays and loads of holiday spirit.

When: Dec. 4-31: illuminated from 5:30-10pm each night
Where: 3200 Thompson Ave, Alameda, CA 94501
Station: Fruitvale
Transportation time: Walk 25 minutes or ride your bike 10 minutes via our guide here.

The Fairmont Gingerbread House in Nob Hill. Photo courtesy of Fairmont San Francisco.

Fairmont Gingerbread House

For more than a century, Fairmont San Francisco has enchanted guests with holiday festivities and exuberant ambiance. This season, experience a dazzling winter display, featuring a holiday Cirque bar, a 23-foot tall Christmas tree in the lobby, a Santa Suite decked out in Santa-inspired décor and a two-story life-sized gingerbread house. The house features 6,000 house-made gingerbread bricks, 1,650 pounds of candy and 3,300 pounds of royal icing.

When: Nov. 27-Dec. 31
Where: 950 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94108
Station: Powell St
Walk time: 16 minutes
Tom & Jerry's House in The Castro. Photo courtesy of Yelp.

Tom & Jerry’s House

A 65-foot-high Norfolk Island Pine that started life as a houseplant is the centerpiece at 3650 21st Street in San Francisco. This fantastically tacky Christmas display was created by Tom Taylor and Jerry Goldstein, a real-life Tom and Jerry. Unfortunately, Tom passed away in October 2020, but his spirit lives on through illuminated icicles, oversized gifts and stockings, dancing dolls and Ferris wheels and one massive Christmas tree.

When: Through Dec. 31: illuminated from 6-10pm each night
Where: 3650 21st St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Station: 24th St Mission
Walk time: 20 minutes
The Inverted Christmas Tree at Westfield San Francisco Centre. Photo courtesy of San Francisco Magazine.

Inverted Christmas Tree at Westfield San Francisco Centre

If you’re part of the camp that thinks Christmas tree orientation should be open to interpretation, then the 50-foot inverted tree under the iconic Emporium Dome is perfect for you. The tree is hung each year like a chandelier and adorned with crystals at Westfield San Francisco Centre.

When: Dec. 1-31
Where: 865 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Station: Powell St
Walk time: Two minutes
The Christmas tree at Jack London Square. Photo courtesy of The Mercury News.

Jack London Square Christmas Tree

See the lighting of a 55-foot Mount Shasta fir tree at Jack London Square on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 6-8pm. There will be live entertainment featuring laser light shows, snowfall, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the Merrie Old Christmas carolers, peppermint princess elf stilt walker, selfies with the Christmas teddy bear and Rudolph and a special appearance by Santa. The tree is decorated with 5,000 sparkling lights and hundreds of ornaments to create the perfect holiday backdrop along the waterfront.

When: Lighting: Dec. 11: 6-8pm; On display: Dec. 11-31
Where: 70 Washington St, Oakland, CA 94607
Station: 12th St/Oakland City Center
Walk time: 14 minutes
Macy's Great Tree in Union Square. Photo courtesy of SFGate.

Macy’s Great Tree in Union Square

If upright Christmas trees are more your speed, head to Union Square and admire Macy’s 83-foot tall Christmas tree that illuminates the night with 33,000 LED lights and 1,100 shining ornaments.

When: Nov. 19-Jan. 1
Where: 333 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94108
Station: Powell St
Walk time: Four minutes

Let's get social. 

Where are you seeing holiday lights? Let us know via social media, @SFBARTable #SFBARTable! Keep up with us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to see all of the best BARTable (virtual) events, places to eat (grab take out from) and have fun (outside) around the Bay. 

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