It’s the last month of the year…and we’re entering the rush of buying holiday gifts for loved ones and decorating the town in lights. Will you add a few December events at Golden Gate Park as part of your seasonal ‘to-do’ list? For starters, you won’t want to miss the annual holiday tree lighting at McLaren Lodge; and there is a lot going on at the California Academy of Sciences this month, where you’ll find a multitude of festive performances and activities to explore with their ‘Tis the Season for Science’ program. Other events for December 2014 include running in the park, and creating a festive wreath for your home at the San Francisco Botanical Garden.


‘Tis the Season for Science – California Academy of Sciences – until January 4

This month, the Academy will present a winter wonderland for visitors that includes snow flurries, festive activities, special programs, caroling, and a pair of live reindeer named Willow and Yukon to cap off the holiday atmosphere. Just some of the attractions and activities planned for the month include the Snowman Theater which teaches about “Nomads of the North,” quiz shows, live musical performances (including members of the Golden Gate Park Band), and plenty of holiday-themed programs. All of the seasonal-themed acts are free with Academy admission, and will take place in the Piazza at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Annual Tree Lighting – McLaren Lodge – December 4 

Golden Gate Park’s McLaren Lodge helps you kickstart the holiday spirit with their annual tree lighting event – an ideal way to spend a festive moment in the park. This is the 85th year that locals will gather to take in the beauty of the lights, as well as enjoy live entertainment, caroling, sledding, a snow play area, rides, games, and a visit from Ol’ Saint Nick himself. This event is free, as always, and will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at McLaren Lodge – located at 501 Stanyan Street (and Fell). Participants are also encouraged to spread the holiday cheer by bringing along a new unwrapped toy to donate to Operation Dream and SFPD’s Toy Drive.

‘Wild for Winter’ Nightlife – California Academy of Sciences – December 4 

It’s time to explore all things ‘winter.’ The Hibernation Zone (African Hall, Level 1) will serve up cocktails to follow the theme of the night, as the setting transforms into hibernation scenes, courtesy of projection artist Luke Judd. Enter the East Pavilion to discuss the ins and outs of sleep with live demos of the Basis Sleep Tracker, and sleep evaluations with a doctor from UCSF’s Sleep Disorder Department (at 7 p.m.). Additional highlights of the event include sloth talk, and chatting with Academy scientists about the types of animals that sleep during the winter. For entertainment, head for the Piazza at 7:45 p.m. to listen to The She’s, an all-girl rock band. Other musical guests for the night will include tunes spun in the Coral Reef by Magic Touch DJs.

Thursday Nightlife events at the Academy are held on a weekly basis, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. These get-togethers for the 21 and over crowd are centered on a specific theme. An I.D. to confirm your age is required in order for you to join the party.

The entry fee is $10 for members and $12 for non-members.

Aloha Friday – Park Chalet – December 5 

As part of the Park Chalet Concert Series, the first Friday of the month is dedicated to traditional Hawaiian music, where live performances will entertain those who munch on Buttermilk Fried Calamari and Park Chalet S’Mores, and sip on local beers. The entertainment usually plays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., but you can call Park Chalet at (415) 386-8439 to make sure.

Botanical Wreath Making – SF Botanical Garden – December 6

Come join Baylor Chapman, from Lila B. Design, to construct your own lovely holiday wreath comprised of unique and rare greenery collected from the Botanical Garden. This year, you can use succulent cuttings and lichens as embellishments. Instructors will guide you step by step to create a DIY decoration for the holidays that you will be proud to display. Although the wreath base, wire, and greenery are included in the cost, you will need to bring your own clippers, scissors and any other ornaments or ribbon you’d like to include as an enhancement for your botanical wreath. The fee for this activity is $35 for members and $45 for nonmembers.

There are two different sessions to consider when you’re looking to make your own wreath this year: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Windmill 10K – Dutch Windmill – December 7 

The monthly (and last DSE run of the year) at Golden Gate Park will take place at the Dutch Windmill for a 10K that runs eastbound up Kennedy Drive towards McLaren Lodge (Kezar Drive/Second Barricade), and then turns around to lead runners back the same way they came. The race starts at 9 a.m. and ends 10:30 a.m. Fees to participate in this race include 13-17 years ($3); 18 and over ($3 dollars for members and $5 dollars for non-members); and free for runners ages up to 12 years old. For more details, you can call the DSE Hotline at (415) 978-0837, or visit

Student Winter Art Sale – Sharon Art Studio – December 7

As you’re searching for the ideal gift for family and friends, there will be hundreds of affordable options available at the annual Winter Art Sale – all of which have been hand-made at the Studio. A portion of all sales will benefit Friends of Sharon Art Studio. The Members Preview will be held from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., while general admission runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Sharon Art Studio is located on 300 Bowling Green Drive. For more information, contact the Studio at 415-753-7005 or visit

Annual Swap Meet – Golden Gate Angling & Casting Club Angler’s Lodge – December 7

If you’re looking to sell or acquire any fishing related equipment, you might want to consider stopping by the Golden Gate Angling & Casting Club this month to participate in their annual swap meet. Pay cash or barter your wares at this event, which is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Non-members must RSVP using the form found here:

“Holiday Bazaar NightLife” – California Academy of Sciences – December 11

A holiday marketplace filled with the creativity of local makers might present the perfect opportunity to find a Christmas present for loved ones and friends, which include handmade jewelry, original artwork, ceramics and pottery. Other highlights to expect for this Thursday night extravaganza include a visit from a pair of real reindeer, and the sounds of old school hip hop and afrocentric mashups as just one of many options for entertainment. This event is held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and costs $10 for members and $12 for non-members. Since this is an activity for the 21 or older crowd, expect to show valid identification.

The Tap Dancing Christmas Trees – California Academy of Sciences – December 23 & 24

Fun for all ages, bask in the warmth of the season with a performance by Alameda’s Dance/10 Performing Arts Center. There are two times to catch this delightful display of holiday cheer in the Piazza: 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Ukelele Friends OhanaCalifornia Academy of Sciences – December 26 

Come enjoy the island-themed musical performance at the Academy that is planned for the day after Christmas, which is free with admission in the Piazza at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Torrey Mansur YogaCalifornia Academy of Sciences – December 27

You probably need a bit of relaxation after all of the holiday shopping, gift-wrapping, and caroling you’ve done over the past couple of weeks. Bring the kids to the Academy to enjoy a mini-yoga class for all ages, which is free to enjoy with the purchase of admission. This yoga session will take place in the Piazza at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Kirk and Sea Forage and the Fishwives – California Academy of SciencesDecember 29

As part of the Academy’s holiday program schedule, this soulful sing-along enlightens visitors on the ways of how to throw a Hawaiian casting net; using a poke pole to catch the elusive monkeyface eel; and other interesting cultural traditions. This event takes place in the Piazza at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.; and is free with admission to the Academy.