Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).
San Francisco is always festive during the holidays, and there is no better way of getting into the Christmas spirit than to check out the best San Francisco Christmas light displays and brightly decorated Christmas Trees and to witness impressive switch-on ceremonies.
Macy's Great Tree Lighting in Union Square Park (November 27, 2020; lights on until January 5, 2021)
Union Square host the most important Christmas Tree in the city as well as the greatest and most colorful holiday lights display. The Macy’s store holiday displays are especially loved by children since it features kittens and puppies.
The Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place in Union Square Park across from the Macy's store. The reusable Christmas tree is decorated with 43,000 LEDs and over 700 ornaments. The San Francisco Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony always features live entertainment, like various choirs, bands, and Santa.
The Building Lighting Ceremony at Embarcadero Center (postponed until November 2021)
Embarcadero Center features four buildings decorated with 17,000 lights. The Building Lighting Ceremony at Embarcadero Center is the official kick-off of the holiday season. It is accompanied by fireworks and a Disney on Ice show.
Tree Lighting Ceremony at Civic Center Plaza (TBA)
Civic Center Plaza across from City Hall boasts an impressive Christmas Tree and a light display. The Tree Lighting ceremony is a huge show featuring the Christmas Parade, theatre performance, and a toy giveaway for children.
Tom and Jerry House (early December)
Tom and Jerry House could be the most popular single-house light display in SF. Located in the Castro district, Tom and Jerry work for months on their fantastic installation. It has been so famous that a documentary was shot about it. There are no updates on the holiday lights & toys display as in October 2020, Tom Taylor (the man responsible for the decorations of the Tom and Jerry House) died. Please, check the local sources for the updates.
South San Francisco Christmas lights in the Bay area (December)
South San Francisco Christmas Lights are famous all over the Bay area. Stroll by Chestnut Avenue houses, and you won't be disappointed since it has the most significant collection of Christmas lights in the Bay Area. Neighbors' competition drives Christmas lights displays to new levels of complexity every year.
Christmas Tree Lane in Alameda (December)
The best place to observe Christmas lights in the East Bay area is in Alameda. Christmas Tree Lane at the 3200 block of Thompson Ave, between High & Fernside, is very special and nostalgic. The displays are switched on in early December and stay on through New Year's Eve.