San Francisco during the winter months is a fun time for all people of all cultures. You can expect some great Christmas celebrations throughout the city; but given its diverse population and year-round tourism, San Francisco is also host to different cultural events during the holidays. Here are a few highlights.
Leonard Cohen, an a capella choir, and a Jewish museum
The Conspiracy of Bears is a locally famous (although they’ve ventured to the East Coast) a capella group composed of 30 men that sing songs by Leonard Cohen. While they play all the big places in San Francisco year-round (Great American Music Hall), they’ve started a tradition of singing at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (736 Mission Street) every Hanukkah. In fact, they add a set of Hanukkah songs to their robust collection. Call (415) 655-7800 for show times
Parol Lantern Festival Parade
Filipino culture involves making the star-shaped parol lanterns during Christmas. San Francisco’s Filipino community comes together during December to display the Parols they’ve been making since October. The parade starts at Yerba Buena Gardens slightly after sundown and ends in Jessie Square with games, live music and prizes. They even give out awards for the best looking and most creative Parols. Find out more about the Parol parade at the Kularts website.
The giant gingerbread house
The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco (950 Mason Street; 415-772-5000) has been around since before the great earthquake-it’s more than 100 years old! One of the holiday traditions is to build a giant gingerbread house inside the lobby. This is not a gingerbread house you can put on your dining room table- it’s 22 feet high and gets bigger every year. In 2011 the gingerbread house was composed of 650 pounds of candy, more than 1,000 pounds of chocolate icing and 7,500 gingerbread sticks. The giant gingerbread house usually debuts the Friday after Thanksgiving along with a special Nutcracker Holiday Tea event.
A very special Golden Girls Show
Some of San Francisco’s more colorful population would like to thank you for being their friends by putting on a show dedicated to the Golden Girls. The Victoria Theatre (2961 16th St; 415-863-7576) hosts The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes, a live comedy play performed by drag queens. They only do the show during weekends in December and only seats 500, so it’s a rare treat if you can get in.
Beach Blanket Babylon Holiday Show
How would you like to see a parade of dancing Christmas trees performing for Snow White? That’s the kind of show you get with Beach Blanket Babylon. It’s the longest running comedy revue in San Francisco (since 1974!), and every winter they put on a Holiday-themed show at Club Fugazi (678 Green Street, 415-421-4222).