San Francisco is truly a magical place during the holidays. There are many shows to be seen, lights to gaze at and festive music to hear. Bundle up and get ready for a great holiday experience, San Francisco style!

Image Credit: Shawn Clover – Flickr

Watch the San Francisco Symphony
Starting in late November, the San Francisco Symphony provides an array of shows to celebrate the season. Experience Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas like never before by watching the orchestra perform the score along with the movie. Other special shows include Cirque de la Symphonie, with acrobatic performances, and Holiday Soul – a special performance accompanied by recording artist Vanessa Williams.

Get Lit at Union Square
The Macy’s Union Square tree lighting ceremony takes place on Friday, November 23 at 5:30 p.m. The festivities don’t stop after the tree is lit! Watch live performances, get your picture taken with Santa, watch (or partake in) some ice skating and check out some of the killers Black Friday deals in the area.

Be Santa for the day
SantaCon is a holiday celebration like no other. To put it simply, thousands of people all over the country dress up as different Christmas characters and parade the streets – and bars – to show their holiday spirit. San Francisco will host the event on December 8, join in on the fun. You may want to leave your kids home for this one.  

Illuminate the city
If you didn’t get enough light action at the Macy’s tree lighting, Illuminate San Francisco will definitely provide more than enough of a light show to satisfy anyone. Unlike traditional holiday light shows, Illuminate offers unique, modern light installations around the city. Sightseers will be able to walk a guided tour or stroll around and look at each installation at their own pace.

Light the Menorah
The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco hosts menorah lighting ceremonies December 2 – 7. The lighting ceremonies are accompanied by storytelling, games and traditional Hannukah music.

Give back by caroling
Every year, the Cable Car Caroling event gives everyone a chance to give back to the community while having a good time. Carolers of all ages pay to ride on the cable cars around the city to sing to San Francisco seniors. Proceeds go to the Institute on Aging’s Friendship Line; a crisis call center for lonely seniors and adults with disabilities.

Get merry with 150 gay men
The San Francisco Gay Men’s chorus puts on one of the best shows of the year during their holiday performance. The concert benefits Face 2 Face, AIDS services of Sonoma County. The chorus is accompanied by a brass quintet to take the holiday cheer up to the next level. Holiday tunes include classics to modern hits.

Try something new this holiday season by hopping on a cable car to sing to lonely seniors, get lost in a sea of Santa Clauses or observing some of the most unique holiday art in the country. No matter what you choose, the holidays in San Francisco are something to be remembered.