San Francisco Events – Best of the Holidays!

Holiday fun filled activities for the entire family! Check Urban Backpacker’s list twice, for naughty or nice San Francisco Events to brighten your Holiday season! Enjoy the twinkle, sparkle and shine! Make your holidays fine! Don’t stop here – scroll down for the entire list.

America’s Children’s Holiday Parade

This parade is a must do, and the only special event I’ve mentioned just outside San Francisco proper. If you enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York, why don’t you sashay your family over the bay to: “America’s Children’s Holiday Parade?”

Celebrating the re-birth and excitement in downtown Oakland, a local hospital, (with the help of local businesses and inspired parade pioneers) they colluded and collaborated to create one of the biggest San Francisco Events for families and children right in our own Oakland backyard! For parade details click here for more information. Don’t miss the giant helium balloons, cartoon and storybook stars, premier marching bands, amazing floats and Santa!


San Francisco Events Union Square Ice Rink

Two Favorite Holiday Ice Rinks

What I did not know about our big city of San Francisco Events during the Holiday’s, was that there are so many fabulous things to do with families! If I hadn’t just had my darn hip fixed, I would be out skating with the best of you at my two favorite skating rink holiday spots. Dress warmly, have fun, drink the hot cocoa, hold hands, and don’t let your ankles bow in too far! For the Union Square Ice Rink click here, and for the Embarcadero Ice Rink click here. Don’t miss the Drag Queen ice-dancing event – the costumes are magnificent!


Westin St. Francis Sugar Castle Display

Mark your calendars for November 27 at 11 a.m…One of the country’s most whimsical, magical, handmade sugar castles, created by Executive Pastry Chef, Jean-Francois Houdré and his team, will be unveiled in the celebrated Landmark Lobby of the Westin St. Francis. This holiday ritual is still going strong since 2005. If it’s even possible, this magnificent castle has continually grown more spectacular each and every year. New this year, and in celebration of the hotel’s upcoming 110th anniversary on March 21, 2014, is the addition of the top (people ornaments) over the past century on display through the castle. Enjoy locating and identifying these life-like elf selfies of politicians, celebrities, athletes and well-known personalities. Live music featured with complimentary coffee and cookies. The Sugar Castle(click here) will be on display November 27 through January 3.



Reindeer Romp SF Zoo

Two Zoo Holiday Events

Get to the Reindeer ROMP. Santa is sending four favorite reindeer, Belle, Holly, Peppermint, and Velvet to spread holiday cheer to Bay Area children of all ages. Until January 1, these majestic animals will be on display at the Zoo to teach us all about how and where they live in the wild. So put on that “Santa red scarf,” pick up a hot chocolate at the Lemur Cafe, and head on over to the historic Playfield Lawn, right next to the spectacular new Elinor Friend Playground. Click here for the Reindeer Romp information.

Zoo lights to delight you – ‘Tis the season’ to enjoy the San Francisco Zoo at night under its magical holiday lighting. Take a moonlight meander through the Zoo as it sparkles with cheer: Make your way from Entry Village Plaza to the newly renovated Elinor Friend Playground for some magical playtime under the stars. Sit with Santa Claus, see the reindeer romp, enjoy hot apple cider and cocoa, ride the historic Dentzel Carousel, and enjoy the holiday cheer as you stroll through select areas of the Zoo during this spectacular zoo-ish event. For Zoo lights info click here.


The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Do not miss – The Great Dickens Christmas Fair during its five-weekend-stint November 23rd through December 22nd.  This fabulous Dickens extravaganza is a one-of-a-kind (walk back in time), and quite the holiday adventure into Victorian London. An elaborate party with hundreds of costumed players performing and interacting with patrons in over 120,000 square feet of theatrical-lit music halls, pubs, dance floors, and Christmas shops. It’s a twilight evening in Charles Dickens’ London Town – A city of winding lanes filled with colorful characters from both literature and history.  For the Great Dickens frivolous, frolicking, fair information – click here. Meet me at Fezziwig’s Warehouse?



Palace Hotel Santa Tea San Francisco Events

Two Hotels and Special Holiday Teas

As long as I can remember, the gals in our family would gather once a year for High Tea (meaning elegant or formal) at the holidays. We would include generations of women, girls and toddlers, in our once a year holiday “dress up day.” My grandmother, all dressed in her “Grammie Red Finery” would be the talk of our table.

The holiday pomp and circumstance embellishing the Fairmont Hotel will knock your socks off and take your breath away. Really is a sight for sore eyes at these two special-tea wonderful San Francisco Events. Take yourself, your friends, and the little ones to The Gingerbread Holiday Tea and enjoy the fancy prancy tea delights, cookie decorating, grand tea party, and the delicious holiday delicacies. For information on the Gingerbread Tea and Holiday Events at the Fairmont click here. The Palace Hotel for four Saturdays in December will host a Santa Tea you should not miss. The decor is splendorous. Treat your favorite folks to holiday treasures and two tea extravaganzas fit for royals! Information on the Santa Tea and Holiday events at the Palace Hotel click here.  For a wonderful family blog called “red tricycle,” and additional holiday tea ideas in San Francisco click here.


Tree of Hope San Francisco

Tree Lighting’s, Menorah Lighting, and Lanterns Divine

The Fantasy of Lights Festival on Union Street is a definite show stopper! Decorate cupcakes, join in song with the caroling folks, and enjoy the spectacular holiday decor up and down Union Street. Information on the Union Street Fantasy of Lights in Cow Hollow please click here. Dont’ forget to add to (your tree lighting celebrations list) the largest tree event in the city, at the Macy’s Annual Union Square Tree Lighting event on November 29th click here.

A local miracle happened in San Francisco in 1975 when community leaders joined together to create the first big public menorah and celebration of Chanukah outside of Israel. The San Francisco Bill Graham Menorah lighting, “Mama Menorah” public celebration has now become a global phenomenon with large menorahs lit annually in over 500 cities worldwide! Add this historic treat to your holiday San Francisco events tour. Click here for more “Mama Menorah” information.

Standing 25 feet tall and donning over 12,000 hand folded paper cranes and stars, is San Francisco’s “World Tree of Hope.” Each decoration has positive written wishes from around the world and it takes volunteers 2500 hours to create the paper masterpieces and ornaments each with symbols of global unity promoting peace, love and humanitarianism. The Rainbow World Fund lovingly creates “The World Tree of Hope,” each year. It’s a special gift from the LGBT and friends community – to the world. The tree is displayed in the Rotunda of San Francisco City Hall. To add your wishes to The World Tree of Hope, click here.

In San Francisco, on Saturday, December 14th, the community will be holding the 11th Annual San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival – a must-see event during the holiday season. The festival begins with a series of parol lantern-making workshops held at the Bayanihan Community Center. The parol workshops are open to the public. The parols made during these workshops are displayed during our anticipated parade & festival held in Yerba Buena Lane, Jessie Square and St. Patrick’s Church. The parol lantern – is the quintessential Filipino symbol of hope, blessings, luck, peace, and light during the holiday season. To celebrate the Parol Lantern Festival click here.

Last, but not least, regarding celebrations with special lights, is the Fisherman’s Wharf  Lighted Boat Parade (click here) on December 13th. More than 60 boats partake in the lighting and decorating of their crafts for all to see. Pier 39 will ensure a feast for the eyes.



Three Favorite Holiday Theater Delights

Growing up was always such an “appreciating culture adventure,” at our house. The Christmas holiday was always my very favorite. Enjoy three of my all time BESTIE San Francisco Events. Perhaps try one a year, take someone dear, and spread some holiday cheer?

1. Let the sugar plum fairies and nutcrackers dance in your heads at The Nutcracker Ballet(click here).

2. Giggle yourselves silly at Beach Blanket Babylons Holiday Show (click here).

3. Escape to an island and join the contortionists for a night of folly and frivolity at Cirque du Soleil’s AMALUNA (click here).


Santacon San Francisco Events

Two Naughty or Nice Holiday Events for Adults

I have always wanted to dress up and pub crawl with the best of our sweet city Ho Ho Ho’s, at Santacon! Get your inner Santa on, and get your NAUGHTY on, at this big red and white event of the year. For some good holiday Santacon San Francisco events FUN – click here. Santacon photo by Sherrie Thai.

The Elf Party touts some big adult fun every year. Get your tickets early as this bash sells out fast! Dress as an ELF or dress as you know who….be safe, have fun, and support the list of children’s charities they support. Dress up for a good cause. For more information or tickets to the ELF PARTY click here.





Definition of Urban Backpacker:

1. Of, relating to, or located in a city.

2. Backpacker redefined: Artful reviews that lead you from hidden budget gems to five-star destinations helping you find palate pleasing adventure, enjoyment, and story collection.

3. Pack bag. Travel there. See city. Eat food. Respect culture. Take picture. Share story. Be thankful. Repeat.