While the month of December is a time for holiday celebrations and the anticipation of a New Year, Golden Gate Park events aim to keep you busy with festive fun, art, fashion, recreation, and lots of lights. And while snowflakes may not fall in San Francisco, you can always head for the wintry scenes and flurries at California Academy of Sciences this month – just one of the December 2012 events happening in Golden Gate Park.


Family Fun 5K – Music Concourse Band Shell – December 1

The Girls on the Run of the Bay Area is hosting a Family 5K in Golden Gate Park as part of a celebration for participating girls in the East Bay programs. This nation-wide running program allows girls (ages 8 to 13) to develop specific social and personal skills. Ten-week programs are offered during the fall and spring with volunteer coaches overseeing games and running-based workouts that promote emotional, social, psychological and physical development. The Family 5K run marks the culmination of the program. Participants will meet at the Music Concourse Band Shell, where the race starts at 10 a.m. Registration costs $40 on the day of the race. For more details, check out http://www.gotrbayarea.org/about/index.asp .

World AIDS Day Observance – AIDS Memorial Grove – December 1

The 19th annual World AIDS Day Observance at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park will take place on December 1 – starting at 12 p.m. sharp. This is a time to recognize leaders in AIDS activism and reflect with family and friends. A choir performance by Sonoma Bells Choir and light lunch is free and open to the public. A reading of names will take place. There will also be a dedication of the Nancy Pelosi Leadership Walkway. The National AIDS Memorial Grove is located on Bowling Green Drive.

Winter Fun at California Academy of Sciences – December 1, 2012 – January 6, 2013

For the third year, the California Academy of Sciences will present a special exhibit centered on all things wintery and science. In the Piazza, experience indoor snow flurries twice an hour. Mounted specimens of a polar bear, snow geese, monarch butterflies, and other creatures will be on display. The ‘Tis the Season for Science’ extravaganza also includes live reindeer in the East Garden. Children ages five and older are sure to enjoy the ‘snowman theater.’ Other programs to explore at the Academy include Reindeer Rendezvous (12 p.m. daily), Holiday Migration Quest (1:30 p.m. daily), and Specimen Spotlight: Migrating Monarchs (11:30 a.m. on Thursdays).

Bank of America Free Museum Weekend – deYoung Museum – December 1 & 2

Good news for Bank of America credit or debit card holders, if you pay a visit to the deYoung Museum on the weekend of December 1 and 2, you will get to enjoy free admission as part of the BOA Free Museum Weekend opportunities offered every month.

Winter Pottery & Craft Sale – Sharon Building & Art Studio – December 2

When you’re looking for unique holiday gifts, the Sharon Building and Art Studio offers a special sale of artwork created by the studio’s teachers and students. While the public is invited to start browsing at 11 a.m., please note that members of the studio are treated to an advanced preview from 10 to 11 a.m. A portion of the proceeds will go towards supporting the studio, which offers affordable arts and crafts classes throughout the year to children, teens, and adults. For more info, call (415) 753-7005 or visit sharonartstudio.org.

Project Nunway – AIDS Memorial Grove – December 2

In an effort to benefit the AIDS Memorial Grove and The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the annual Project Nunway will prove an entertaining, enlightening event. This year, fashion designers have concentrated on creating looks using recycled materials to stay in line with this year’s theme of ‘Flora.’ Held under a weatherproof heated tent, this event will take place rain or shine. Doors open at 3:33 p.m. for a 4:20 p.m. start. General tickets start at $20.12 with VIP access costing $51.50 (includes a dressing room preview, guaranteed seating, and two drink tickets). A DIVA ticket costs $99.99 and includes a dressing room preview, premium seating and open bar. You will need ID to receive bar service. For tickets and additional information, visit: http://www.ticketfly.com/event/168719-project-nunway-iv-san-francisco/

The Allure and Magical History of Perfumes – Conservatory of Flowers – December 5

From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the Conservatory of Flowers will host an After-Hours event centered on the sweet scent of perfumes. Storyteller Jill Tracy and master perfumer Emerson Hart of Nocturne Alchemy will enchant participants with a magical journey into the history of fragrance. Take the time to see and smell some of the essences in their raw form and learn the secrets of perfumes. You’ll gain knowledge on what goes into creating the perfect concoction, as well as go over the certain plants and perfumes associated with holiday traditions, such as mistletoe, holly and frankincense. Vice Chocolates will provide truffle samples. Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery will offer cash bars filled with a variety of craft brews and wine throughout the building. Please note that this is an event for the 21 and over crowd. Tickets for this event are $13 for general admission and $7 for Conservatory of Flowers members.

Sugar-Coated Thursday Nightlife Event – California Academy of Sciences – December 6

If you have a sweet tooth, you will not want to miss out on the Sugar-Coated NightLife event held at California Academy of Sciences on December 6. Here, you will encounter seasonal delights from Hooker’s Sweet Treats, Ghirardelli, Almanac Beer, and many others. GoGo Craft will encourage your creative side as you make holiday cards. A live performance by Quartet San Francisco will help set the mood – in addition to the tunes of MOM SF DJs.

Another December Nightlife event at the Academy will take place on:

December 13 – “Shop ‘Til You Drop NightLife” – With 40 independent artists and designers on hand, you are sure to find a special trinket – in between shaking a tail feather at the End of the World Dance Party with DJs Slayers Club.

Please note that there will be no Academy Nightlife Thursday on December 20, December 27, and January 3. But, the party will resume on January 10, 2013.

Holiday Tree Lighting – McLaren Lodge – December 6

Join in the fun as the annual holiday tradition of lighting the tree at McLaren Lodge (501 Stanyan Street) takes place. From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., come and enjoy free carnival rides, arts and crafts, live entertainment, as well as a visit from someone quite holly and jolly. For more details, visit sfrecpark.org.

Free Admission for California Academy of Sciences – December 9

As one of the four free days a year hosting by the California Academy of Sciences, mark your calendars for the last opportunity of 2012 – on December 9, where you can explore the 400,000 square foot wonderland that includes an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum exhibits. The Academy is located at 55 Music Concourse Drive, and entrance is allowed on a first-come, first-served basis. You should arrive early to beat the crowds. Also, keep in mind that the final entry to the museum on free days in 4 p.m.

Frosting the Conservatory – Conservatory of Flowers – December 15

Locals of all ages will gather at the Conservatory of Flowers Orchid Gallery to enjoy the chance to build the greenhouse of their dreams with edible supplies slathered in frosting. While some choose to eat their creations at the event, others save it for the holiday table at home. Proceeds for this occasion will benefit the Conservatory of Flowers Maintenance Fund. There is a fee of $10 for materials, which includes the graham cracker foundation, icing and edible candy décor. You can pay ahead of time online or at the door. This event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. To purchase tickets, click here.

Alvord Lake Volunteer Opportunity – December 22

Rain or shine – join other locals, the SFRPD gardeners, and the Alvord Lake Task Force in an effort to spruce up the eastern entrance of Golden Gate Park. An array of gardening tasks are on the agenda for participants. It is suggested to wear closed toe shoes, long pants and layers during this excursion. Light refreshments will be provided. This event will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Penguins + Pajamas Sleepovers – California Academy of Sciences – December 30

For a pajama party your kids will never forget, the last of the Penguins + Pajamas Sleepovers at the California Academy of Sciences for the year 2012 is on December 30. From 6:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next morning, children (ages 5 to 17) can enjoy the overnight atmosphere at one of the most intriguing attractions in San Francisco. While camping out at the museum, children will get to explore the museum after hours with live animal demonstrations, planetarium show, as well as story time with cookies and milk. The event even includes breakfast in the morning. Tickets are $99 per person with Academy members paying $79. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit the California Academy of Sciences website.