As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season surrounds the streets of the 209, the city of San Francisco hosts a number of holiday events steeped deep in tradition, as well as fun for those looking to escape for a day or a weekend.
Just a relatively short drive from the 209, the City by the Bay comes alive each holiday season with the spirit of the season being celebrated in a number of ways. ■
Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick
If one is traveling to the City for shopping, lunch or a night out on the town a stop by Macy’s Union Square to visit the fat man in the red suit, is definitely worth adding to the “To Do” list.
Perched on the seventh floor of the downtown department store from late November to Christmas Eve, visitors are treated to Macy’s Santaland, where they can share their wishes, as well as have their photos taken with the ‘Jolly Old Soul.’ Photo package prices vary. Visiting with Santa is free of charge, naturally.
IF YOU GO
Macy’s Union Square
170 O’Farrell St.
Visit macys.com/social/santa-land/san-francisco for details and information.
Nutcracker Celebrates 75th Year
It may be a little-known fact, yet it is one which will be celebrated on Dec. 11th as the San Francisco Ballet presents the holiday classic performance of the “Nutcracker” for the 75th year.
On Dec. 24, 1944, San Francisco was the first city in the United States to present Tchaikovsky’s now classic ballet. Since that day, 75 years ago the production has delighted an audience of all ages. Many have made it a family tradition, as well as serving as a popular field trip event for San Francisco youth.
The Dec. 11 show will be opening night for the long time City tradition. It will also be a night of celebration for its 75th year, paying tribute to the many “Claras” of the past. Additional San Francisco Ballet School Alumni will also be celebrated during this one-time event.
Entertaining audiences of all ages for decades, the Nutcracker is a full-length ballet clocking two hours and 20 minutes. The characters and action on the stage of the historic War Memorial Opera House easily keep audiences of all ages engaged as they watch the journey of the Nutcracker come to life as the audience travels through the dreams of Clara Fritz.
A number of showtimes are hosted daily from Dec. 11 through Dec. 29. Ticket prices vary by seat choice.
IF YOU GO
War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Ave.
Ticket purchase in advance is advised at sfballet.org.
Ice, Ice Baby
Situated just feet below the infamous tree at Union Square, the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square opens in November of each year and maintains operation through late January. This San Francisco holiday tradition offers visitors, as well as locals the opportunity to get wrapped up in the spirit as they circle the ice in the heart of Union Square. With notable department stores such as Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and every lady’s favorite, Tiffany, flanking the rink, the holiday ambience serves as a delightful backdrop to the venue.
Open daily, novices as well as naturals can pick any day of the week between the hours of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. to take a whirl around the ice. Skaters are permitted an hour and a half per session and are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance. Tickets range from $13 to $24.95 depending on the skater’s age and package.
Those new to the ice might also enjoy the “Learn to Skate” event hosted each Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Check-in is at 8:15 a.m. Sign-ups are at LearnToSkate2019.eventbrite.com
IF YOU GO
333 Post St.
Sugar and Spice
A long-time standing tradition appreciated by locals, as well as insiders and tourists alike can be found in the grand lobby of the Fairmont San Francisco. A two-story life size gingerbread house has become a must-see attraction for those visiting the City during the holiday season. Standing 25 feet high, 35 feet wide and 10.5 feet deep, the gingerbread house features 6,000 gingerbread bricks, 1,650 pounds of candy and 3,300 pounds of icing.
IF YOU GO
Fairmont San Francisco
950 Mason St.
or visit fairmont.com/san-francisco.