2012 Christmas events in the Bay Area

In a part of the world where there’s virtually no chance whatsoever of a white Christmas, there are still plenty of opportunities for an old-fashioned Christmas in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read on to get some ideas on how to plan a traditional holiday in and around the Bay Area this year.

 Carols in the Cathedral

There’s nothing like a church service or organ music around the holidays. Grace Cathedral in Nob Hill is a beautiful place to take in traditional evensong. The famous Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys is celebrating their centennial year by presenting seasonal classic favorites to audiences beginning on December 8, 2012. Other musical options include Christmas sing-alongs with a cast of costumed characters, a brass and organ concert, performances of Handel’s “Messiah,” a pageant for children, and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day eucharists. Grace Cathedral services are free and open to all.

 The Nutcracker

 Since the first performance at the War Memorial Opera House on Christmas Eve 1944, the San Francisco Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker” has been a favorite tradition. The ballet company performs this Tchaikovsky classic holiday spectacular from December 7 through December 28, 2012.



Since 1978 before a capacity crowd at Mission Dolores, Chanticleermen’s choral group has been performing medieval and Renaissance music. Performing throughout the world in venues both impressive and humble, the group heads back home to sing in beautiful settings for Christmas. From December 10 through December 23, 2012, Bay Area venues include churches, cathedrals, and historic missions from Sacramento to Petaluma to San Francisco to Stanford to Carmel.


Lighted Yacht Parade

 Jack London Square is the place to view dozens of boats dressed up in their holiday lights parading in the Oakland/Alameda Estuary starting at 5:30 p.m. on December 1, 2012. The Lighted Yacht Paradeis a favorite for young and old. Now in its 36th year, it is free of charge to spectators. Arrive early for a prime viewing spot.


Ice Skating

Grab your scarf and mittens and head for an outdoor ice rink to twirl under palm trees adorned with twinkling lights. In San Francisco, families, friends, and lovers giggle and glide at Union Square and at Embarcadero Center. South Bay’s largest rink is Downtown Ice at the Circle of Palms between San Jose’s Fairmont Hotel and Museum of Art. Speaking of ice skating, an outing to see the San Jose Sharks in action is a top holiday tradition for Bay Area fans.


Holiday Decorations

Crowd-pleasing red-ribboned window displays at Macy’s in Union Square have been a San Francisco tradition since 1858, and the 80-foot fir tree has been a favorite since 1990. A spinning sugar castle complete with a miniature village and moving locomotive delights children in the lobby of the Westin St. Francis, and the giant gingerbread house at the Fairmont Hotel in Nob Hill is big enough to take a walk through.

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