Celebrating the holidays in the San Francisco Bay Area can be done on the cheap, and even for free. Concerts, holiday festivals, and arts and crafts making sessions are among the fun and free offerings; all you have to do is show up. If you love holiday lights, please see our separate guide to tree and menorah lighting ceremonies, lighted boat parades and other illuminated festivities--which are also free..
Each weekend features a different activity, such as making glass ornaments or decorations and art with pine cones, singing carols and taking pictures with Santa. Fourth Street between Hearst and Virginia is a hub of gourmet food, cosmetics, jewelry, apparel, stained glass, chocolate, kitchenware, interior decor, gardening and stationery shops.
Activities happen across from Peet’s, 1776 Fourth St., Berkeley.
More than 200 indie artists, designers and craftspeople offer their ceramics, origami, bags, bath products, toys, clothing, hats, ornaments, gourmet sweets and other wares. Plus DIY demos and workshops on silk-screened cards, jewelry, and linocut prints.
At Concourse Exhibition Center, East Hall, 620 Seventh St., San Francisco 94103.
Snoopy, Madeline and Clifford, floats, clowns, giant helium balloons of a gingerbread man and other holiday characters, dancing trees, marching bands, drill teams, and of course, Santa.
Starts at Clay and 12th streets, turns right on 14th St. to Broadway; follows Broadway to 20th St. and ends at Harrison Ave., Oakland.
Kids get to decorate holiday cookies, while Radio Disney leads games, gives out prizes and DJs.
At Macy’s Union Square, 170 O’Farrell St., San Francisco.
Help decorate the living evergreen tree in the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater parking lot (or just watch the elves do it). Bring a garland or a treat for birds or park animals to hang on the tree.
At the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater parking lot, Visitacion Ave. & Mansell St., in McLaren Park.
Come and make eco-friendly holiday cards.
At Bernal Heights Library, 500 Cortland Ave.
The parol, a Filipino Christmas light in a star shape, is, well, the star of this celebration. Join people parading with their hand-made parol lanterns, and enjoy music, games and a live art demonstration.
At Jessie Square, Mission St. & Yerba Buena Lane; parade starts at 6:15 pm at Yerba Buena Gardens.
Come play in the snow and meet the Snow Queen. Arts & crafts making activities, holiday vendors, and refreshments.
At 1673 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley 94709.
Activities for kids, dreidels, music and dancing, a 4 pm ceremony with local officials and dignitaries, and lighting of the menorah candle at 4:30 pm. .
At Union Square Park, Geary and Powell streets.
The quintet plays jazz, while kids can make crafts or watch movies.
At Bernal Heights Branch Library, 500 Cortland Ave. ** SEE P. 2 FOR FREE HOLIDAY EVENTS FROM MID-DECEMBER ON --->