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Must-Do Holiday Happenings in Union Square

Sometimes you just want to indulge in some good old-fashioned holiday cheer, which is why we recommend a trip to Union Square. Decked out with the Macy’s Christmas tree, festive window displays, the seasonal ice rink and eager shoppers, there’s no better place to experience the holidays in San Francisco.

To take advantage of it all, we recommend these must-do holiday traditions:  

Macy's has unveiled their oh so adorable holiday windows, complete with adoptable SF SPCA puppies and kittens in cute holiday surroundings. See you out there for cute overload! 

Every year, the Westin St. Francis tries to outdo its last sugar castle, which is why we can't wait to check out what Chef Jean-Francois Houdré has cooked up this year! With a grand reveal on Nov. 27 at 11 a.m., you can stop by the lobby of the historic hotel to see this mini Medieval city cast in sugar any time through Jan 3.

Another beloved holiday tradition, the Lighting of the Bill Graham Menorah, kicks off on Nov. 27 at 5 p.m. Performances and festivities will continue through Dec. 4.

Of course, the holidays wouldn't be complete without Macy's 24th Annual Great Tree Lighting Ceremony. The impressive 83’ tree decorated with 33,000+ LED lights and 1,100 ornaments will light up as you enjoy dazzling performances by singer Judith Hill (from The Voice), the Glide Ensemble, the SF Boys Choir and Make-A-Wish Ambassador Shelby Miguel, who fought blood cancer and now works for Make-A-Wish. The fun starts at 6 p.m. on Nov. 29. 

Nothing is quite as idyllic as an afternoon of skating on the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square. This year, they launched a virtual queue app, so you can shop and explore while you wait.

Some old-fashioned traditions are worth reinstating - take Tea under the Tree at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. With the crack shot Scala's bistro team creating scrumptious seasonal bites and pastries (like pumpkin scones and carrot cake madeleines), Mighty Leaf teas and bubbly, this traditional tea service is sure to make for a lovely afternoon. To book call (415) 395-8554

One of our favorite ways to end a day of holiday shopping is by taking in a show like the magical production of A Christmas Carol that A.C.T. puts on every year. If you’re looking for something a little more edgy, try Storefront Church at SF Playhouse, a sort of modern day Christmas Carol set in the Bronx that explores power, redemption and renewed faith.

Click here for a full list of holiday events in Union Square!

Shop Festivities

Speaking of exploring Union Square, we want to let you in on a few unique in-store events that you’ll want to hit up:

Black Friday is major in Union Square. Stores provide some of the best deals of the year from fashion-forward shops like Cuyana and FAVOR to department stores like Macy’s and Barney’s to boutiques like London Sole, Max & Co. and Fresh, there’s a sale for every taste. You can see a full list on the Union Square SF website.

Since CB2 has innovative and unique home furnishings it's no surprise that they have some fun and interesting holiday promos. Through Dec. 24, they'll offer a self-serve wrap station with festive paper, ribbons and stamps. Then, Nov. 27 - Dec. 24 enjoy a chance to take a photo with the 6 ft tall Disco Gnome and share it on Instagram with #ohgnomeyoudidn't.

Stop by Banana Republic Nov. 23 - Dec. 1 and get a unique gift just for coming in. The shop is holding an "8 Days of Giving" celebration with surprises from brands like Ghirardelli, OPI, Google Nexus, Uber and more!

Art.com has a whole wonderland of artsy gifts at their Post Street pop-up. Plus they’re holding several fun events throughout December, including an evening of crafts, drinks, food and music with the Bold Italic on Dec. 4 and a family ornament workshop on Dec. 7, and a modern art desserts. Visit their Facebook page for more info.

How to Get There

Stockton Street is now open to drivers, since Central Subway construction is on holiday moratorium, so you can breeze through. Plus, Neiman Marcus and the White House parking garage both offer valet parking if you’re feeling fancy. You can also use an app like ParkNow or SFPark to get a parking spot in no time. Of course, BART and MUNI are also super convenient ways of getting to Union Square. 

Click here for a full list of Union Square Parking Garages.