As you venture out to gift-shop for the holidays or hunt for the perfect Christmas tree ornament, keep in mind that Golden Gate Park events in December are here to provide you with plenty of options for getting your last visits in before the end of 2016. Take a relaxing walk, sweat it out with a park run, give back to a good cause, get in the holiday spirit with craft workshops, or see what the Academy has festively planned for those who come on Thursday night. Let Golden Gate Park events for December 2016 pave the way for a Happy New Year.


87th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting – McLaren Lodge – December 1

Locals wait all yearlong for one of the best family events in San Francisco that brings the community together in an effort to kick off the holiday season. With numerous free activities, families look forward to the Winter Carnival, which includes rides, arts and crafts, a snow play area, live entertainment, a cookie factory, and of course, a guest appearance by Santa himself. In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the San Francisco Fire Department, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White will do the honors of lighting the tree, which takes place at 6 p.m. The entire event will take place from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Free Guided Trail & Nature Walk – Stow Lake – December 3

It’s free to participate in a walk about Stow Lake, which brings you closer to some of the native plants and wildlife that help shape the environment of Golden Gate Park. There is no need to pre-register for the walk, which begins at 10 a.m. and continues on until 12 p.m. This walk is offered on the first Saturday of every month. If weather is unsafe or it is raining, keep in mind that trail walks are cancelled. If interested, meet at the Stow Lake Boathouse, and don’t forget to bring your walking shoes.


Winter Art Sale – Sharon Arts Studio – December 4

You never know when your next holiday gift will come from a place within Golden Gate Park. A winter sale at Sharon Art Studio is set to offer a range of original, handmade items (for an affordable price) which have been crafted by the instructors, staff, and students of the studio. Jewelry, ceramic bowls and numerous unique pieces will be on display for purchase. This event will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Glass Studio at the Studio (300 Bowling Green Drive).


Girls on the Run 5K – Music Concourse Bandshell – December 4

In addition to a 5K fun run, this family-friendly event also provides an outing filled with DJ-spun music; an energetic Zumba warm-up right before the run; photo booth silliness; face painting; and other entertaining activities. All proceeds will go towards benefitting Girls on the Run of the Bay Area. The 5K will start at 9:30 a.m. with the 5K closing at 11:30 a.m. The runner check-in tent opens at 8 a.m., where you can pick up a bib and T-shirt. The post-race festivities begin at 10 a.m. For more information, click here.


Holiday Bazaar NightLife – California Academy of Sciences – December 8

 If you’re looking for something unique, local gems will be on hand to dazzle when you attend the annual holiday bazaar held as part of the Academy’s Thursday NightLife program. The Holiday Bazaar itself will take place at African Hall and Project Lab, where you’ll find an assortment of handmade jewelry, ceramics, pottery, stationary, original artwork, and many other cool finds – from the likes of Alex Brizicky Ceramics, Cecily Chudacoff Couture, Luana Coonen Jewelry, Cards by Hailey, and Le Petit Elefant.

For the entire night, Winter Science & Crafts will take place at the Swamp and Project Lab. The live reindeer that have been temporarily calling the Academy their home (Velvet and Tinsel) will be on hand in the East Garden from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Piazza will host a ‘Snowy Silent Disco‘ from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. where Silent Storm and the Make It Funky DJs will provide the night’s musical entertainment. During your visit, take the time to learn a little something about the creatures. Before you leave, don’t forget to get a spiked snow cone or sample a winter beer at one of the bars situated about the museum.


Keep in mind that Thursday NightLife events at the Academy are only for the 21 and over crowd; valid identification is required in order to gain entry. NightLife festivities run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets for members are $12, while non-members pay $15. Generally, these events are held every week, but in the month of December, there are no other NightLife events planned for December 15, 22, and 29.


Miracle Mile/ 5K Holiday Classic Event – Peacock Meadow – December 18

Calling runners of all ages and skill levels, consider lending your legs for a good cause by participating in a 5K event that donates all proceeds to benefit the UCSF Diabetes Center. If you like, you can choose between a fast-paced certified 5K course and a fast downhill 1-mile course. More ambitious runners can run in both. Keep in mind that if you register for this event by Dec. 13, 2016, you are guaranteed an event T-shirt. On the day of the race, pick up your race packet at the same point that the event begins – near Peacock Meadow on John F Kennedy Drive. The event has a start time off 9 a.m. To register for this event and learn more, click here.


Holiday Gift-Crafting: Beehive Lip Balm – SF Botanical Garden – December 18

From 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Fog City Gardener will host a workshop that is sure to keep you entertained and amused. In between admiring the demonstration hive and catching a glimpse at live honey bees in their habitat, you’ll learn how to make natural lip balms out of beeswax, essential oils and herbs. By the end of the workshop, you will have hand-mixed and poured your own lip balm. The cost to enjoy this get-together is $15 for members and $20 for non-members.


Holiday Gift-Crafting: Succulent Terrariums– SF Botanical Garden – December 18

You don’t have to be a plant lover to enjoy this workshop that taps into your creative side, all while you get down and dirty with succulents. Come learn how to care for these eye-catching beauties, as well as how to incorporate them into a design. With a large selection of succulents at your fingertips, choose what you like and create a glass orb terrarium of your own. All the materials you need will be available and covered by the workshop fee ($44 for members and $49 for non-members). Since space is limited, you should act quickly; and keep in mind that pre-registration is required. This event will be held from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.


Garden Free Day – SF Botanical Garden – December 25

There are very few attractions and buildings that you will find opening their doors to the public on a major holiday such as Christmas, but if you have an itch to take the family to a relaxing natural setting, the Botanical Garden offers free admission on Christmas Day.