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Union Square Blog
November 23, 2012

Plan your Holiday Itinerary: Holiday Events in Union Square

Union Square is holiday central in San Francisco. Every year, we’re host to many thousands of locals and visitors, eager to shop, dine, catch a show and enjoy our many holiday events and seasonal activities, like the Macy’s holiday tree lighting, the ice rink, a Christmas Carol at A.C.T. and more. Plus, we’re enjoying a blissful reprieve from Central Subway construction, so it’s super easy to get here and get around. To help you plan your holiday shopping itinerary or daytrip, we’ve put together a list of our favorite holiday happenings and all the details you need to have a fabulous time in Union Square this season.

What: Safeway Holiday Ice Rink Presented by Alaska Airlines

Where: Union Square Park

When: Nov. 7 – Jan.  21, 2013. Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Closes at 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 31. 90 minute sessions start on every even hour.


Details: Winter in San Francisco would not be the same without gliding across the ice with family and friends at the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square. A portion of proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco and San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. The ice rink also hosts a variety of events like Drag Queens on Ice and Ice Breaker singles nights every year. Check their calendar for details.


What: Macy’s SPCA Windows

Where: Macy’s Union Square, at Stockton and O’Farrell Streets

When: Nov. 16, 5:00 p.m. until Jan. 1


Details: Ridiculously cute and adoptable kitties and puppies from the SF SPCA will be featured in the Macy’s windows throughout the holiday season. These animals will be available for adoption at the SF SPCA Adoption Center on Macy's Level 1. Last year nearly $80,000 was raised for the SF SPCA and 325 animals found loving homes. 


What: Westin St. Francis Sugar Castle and Holiday Decorations

Where: Westin St. Francis,

When: Nov. 21 until Jan. 3


Details: One of the country’s largest sugar castles, created by Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Francois Houdré and his team will be on display at the Westin St. Francis throughout the holiday season. Resembling a French château, it weighs over 1300 pounds and features more than 20 grand circular towers, approximately 30 rooms, glowing windows and a running train. This year, they’ve added the top “2012 newsmakers” on display throughout the castle - life-like elf replicas of politicians, celebrities, athletes and well known personalities. In addition, the entire hotel will be decorated with festive holiday trimmings, including an elegant 15 foot silver and white tree, glittery ornaments, clusters of snow, icicles and more.


What: Black Friday

Where: Throughout Union Square

When: Nov. 23, all day


Details: There are events throughout the square from department store blowouts to boutique discounts. We’ve gathered all the info on our website and will continue to update it with all the fabulous sales and deals until the last minute!


What: Macy’s Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

Where: Union Square Park

When: Nov. 23, 6:00 p.m.


Details: Macy's 23rd Annual Great Tree Lighting Ceremony will include a special performance by Chris Mann and a visit from Santa this year. Guests will also enjoy live music and dance performances. Plus, you can purchase a Macy's Aflac duck with 100% of net proceeds benefitting local children's hospitals.


What: A Christmas Carol at A.C.T.
Where: American Conservatory Theater, 405 Geary St

When: Nov. 30 – Dec. 24


Details: Get in the holiday spirit with a sparkling, music-infused production of A Christmas Carol. A.C.T.’s rendition of this Dickens classic features a lively cast, music by Karl Lundeberg, gorgeous costumes and spooky ghosts.


What: Chanukah 2012 Festival

Where: Union Square Park

When: Dec. 9 – 16, times vary


Description: Celebrate Chanukah with the lighting of the two-story tall Bill Graham Menorah in Union Square Park. A lighting ceremony will be held each day of Chanukah. This year the lighting will take on a dramatic ere, as each lighting ceremony will illuminate a sky-beam, sending a ray of light a mile high into the night sky. The best student essays submitted to the Chanukah Essay Contest for Bay Area students will be celebrated during the ceremonies, and a Chanukah “Flash Mob” will further dazzle the crowds.