The northeastern neighborhoods of the city are some of the richest in terms of attractions and events, and the holidays are particularly colorful. Tree and building lighting ceremonies abound in these parts, so here's a guide to all the festivities coming up.
Ghirardelli Square will celebrate its 51st annual tree lighting on November 27th. They'll light the 60-foot tree at 5:30pm, but the entire affair runs from 4–9pm. “All the Ghirardelli Square tenants participate in some form, whether it’s with spiced cider or mulled wine, or offering black Friday discounts," said Katie Wagner, a representative for Ghirardelli Square. Shops will be open late, so it's a good time to pick up some gifts.
Photo: Courtesy of Ghirardelli Square
Of late, Ghirardelli Square (which was acquired by real estate investment company Jamestown in 2013) has been bringing in more and more independent shops, many with locally made items. A satellite location of SoMa's Bluxome Street Winery and new boutique Les Mechantes are just a couple of examples. At the event, samples from Bluxome and future tenant Le Marais Bakery, which is expanding from the Marina, will be offered.
"That’s one of their big initiatives, to bring back that local flavor," Wagner said. "They’re always going to be a global destination, but they want that neighborhood feel back as well.”
Macy's tree. (Photo: Allison Webber/Union Square BID)
Over at Embarcadero Center, the 29th annual building lighting ceremony and carnival will kick off at 4pm on Friday, November 20th. The event will offer games, face-painting, a visit from Santa & Mrs. Claus, cookie decorating, interactive arts-and-crafts booths, balloon twisters, musical performances, Mickey Mouse and more. Ice skating and musical performances start at 6pm, including a sneak peek performance from Disney On Ice's Frozen. The lighting of the center's office towers, featuring 17,000 lights, and a fireworks show will round out the evening.
If you can't make it down to Anaheim for Disneyland's holiday events this year, the next best thing will go down at Pier 39, which is partnering with Disneyland in honor of the latter's diamond (60th) anniversary. Lightings of the 60-foot tree will be held at 6pm both Saturday and Sunday, November 21st and 22nd, with costumed Disney characters in attendance. The schedule also features afternoon meet-and-greets with the Disneyland characters, sing-alongs with choirs, and letters to Santa with the USPS; here's the full schedule.
Finally, the biggest tree in the holiday forest: Macy's 26th Annual Great Tree Lighting in Union Square, starring the city's largest tree at 83 feet tall, will be held on November 27th (the same night as Ghirardelli Square's event). It will feature entertainment starting at 6pm, including singer Jordin Sparks, Vocal Rush from the Oakland School of the Arts, the Transcendence Theatre Company and the Contra Costa Children's Chorus. The tree lighting will follow at around 6:40pm; the tree boasts more than 33,000 twinkling energy-efficient LED lights and 1,100 shining ornaments.
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