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Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square, Photo by oaktownjohnnyg
Holiday Lights Union Square
Holiday Lights by Night in Union Square
November 4, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Chriskwanzakkah in the Square

Decorations are going up at the Flagship Macy’s in Union Square, construction has started on the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink, and, yes, there’s even a slight chill in the air here in San Francisco, so it’s time to start planning holiday merriment and adventures. Union Square truly is the center of holiday activity in this City, whether you’re shopping for gifts, stopping to grab a hot chocolate at one of our cafes or taking in a showing of A Christmas Carol at A.C.T. Despite our lack of snow, it really doesn’t get much merrier than this! We’ve gathered a list of the top holiday events you’ll want to enjoy to truly get the whole Chriskwanzakkah experience!


Ice Rink Opening Ceremony – November 9, 9:30 - 10:00 a.m.

The holiday ice rink has teamed up with A.C.T. this year to create a festive and theatrical kick-off to the holiday season. The actor who plays "The Ghost of Christmas Present" in A.C.T.’s A Christmas Carol will emcee the opening ceremony, and the first 20 attendees to arrive will receive two free tickets to the much beloved yearly tradition! Plus, internationally renowned Irish tenor Michael Londra - star of Celtic Yuletide at the Marines' Memorial Theatre - will be performing his beautiful and inspiring song "Beyond the Star."

The ice rink runs through January 16 and will be open daily from 10 a.m. - 11:30 p.m., except December 31 when they’ll close at 9:30 p.m. Regular admission is $10 and $6 for children eight and under. Ice skate rentals are $5.

Macy's Great Tree Lighting featuring Johnny Weir

Every year, thousands of people from near and far gather for Macy's Great Tree Lighting ceremony. This year, the San Francisco tradition will include a beautiful 86 foot tree, a special appearance by famed ice skating Olympian Johnny Weir and, of course, a visit from Santa. You can also visit a special tent by MAC Cosmetics for holiday beauty tips and an Aflac tent, which will be raising funds for the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Compass Care Program. As the great tree is lit, guests will enjoy live music and dance performances (jumbotrons are being installed to ensure all can see).

SPCA Holiday Windows at Macy's – November 18 – January 1

Each holiday season the San Francisco SPCA and Macy’s join together to find homes for adoptable cats and dogs. In addition to getting to see these adorable pups and kitties in Macy’s holiday windows, you can also help spread the holiday cheer by bringing home a new friend or volunteering.

Snowflake Lighting Ceremony – November 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The Market St. Association in collaboration with other civic organizations and the City of San Francisco will host a lighting ceremony to celebrate the illumination of 162 energy-efficient LED "snowflakes" on 81 historic "Path of Gold" street lamps. Sparkling along Market St. between Second and Seventh streets, the snowflakes are expected to be up through mid-January. Festivities will include live music and “snowflakes,” as well as speeches by city officials.

Speed Dating Skating - December 1, 8 - 9:30 p.m.

The folks behind the holiday ice rink are bringing singles an easy way to break the ice this year. Intended to be a silly riff on speed dating, Speed Dating Skating will get the conversation started by encouraging guests to wear their most unusual holiday-inspired sweater while ice skating in Union Square. To sweeten the deal for attendees, mistletoe headbands will be free for the first 100 guests.

Drag Queens on Ice – December 8, 8 - 9:30 p.m.

Move over, Santa - a legion of the Bay Area's most colorful drag personalities will be headed to Union Square to share in the holiday spirit with ice skaters at Drag Queens on Ice! Families, friends and fans are encouraged to don their wigs and skate alongside popular drag performers during a fun and unique night of skating at the rink. At the end of the session (9:30 p.m.) there will be two lively drag performances.

Celebrity Bell Ringing Day - December 9, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm

Each holiday season the Salvation Army gathers locals and celebrities to ring bells and perform to raise funds for their vital services. This year Rock the Square will include appearances by several local bands and choirs as well as performances by Beatles and Rolling Stones tribute bands. If you’d like to participate, stop by Macy’s, the Grand Hyatt or Maiden Lane on the day of the event or visit the Salvation Army website.

Bill Graham Menorah Candle Lighting Ceremonies – December 20-28

Jews and non-Jews alike are welcome to come celebrate Chanukah with the lighting of the two-story tall Bill Graham Menorah in Union Square Park this December. A lighting ceremony will be held each day of Chanukah, from December 20-28. Time T.B.D.

If you needed an excuse to stop by Union Square this holiday season – other than the wide array of shops, restaurants, bars and hotels, we’re sure you have it now. Let’s face it, we’re holiday central, so if you want that warm feeling of holiday spirit, you know where to come. Stay tuned for a series of holiday shopping guides and a feature on Black Friday specials.