Another year comes to a close. How will you spend the end of 2019?
Come to your favorite park to perfect your lightsaber skills, indulge yourself at the Conservatory, make your own wreath (or drum), do a little holiday shopping, and spend tons of quality time with family and friends. And if you’re a runner, lucky you! The park is hosting a handful of races that’ll keep you on the right track until the end of the year.
Just some of the Golden Gate Park events in December to enjoy:
Night Bloom – Conservatory of Flowers – December 1-31
The entire month of December features a light and sound experience that’s sure to dazzle and entertain. From 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Night Bloom offers an after-hours look at the Conservatory’s unique plant collection. Walk around the galleries and prepare to be amazed.
This year, the Conservatory has opened something exciting called the Bloom Lounge—an inflatable dome that stays illuminated as you chill out with family and friends.
Purchase an upgraded ticket for the night, and you’ll have access to artisanal grilled cheese with a flight of whiskey or sweets with a flight of sparkling wine. Stop by a local food truck for eats, treats, and seasonal beverages that you can purchase.
Adult tickets purchased in advance cost $29 and is $34 on the day of the event—members pay $14). Admission to the 21+ Bloom Lounge is $75 in advance and $80 at the door—members pay $60. Children 8 and under attend for free.
To purchase tickets for this event, click here.
90th Holiday Tree Lighting, Snow & Carnival Rides – McLaren Lodge – December 3
Every year, the holiday tree is lit at McLaren Lodge.
There’s plenty to do and see at this free family-friendly event. Play in the “snow” area. Enjoy a toboggan ride. Whirl about a carnival ride. Take in the sounds of live entertainment. Decorate a cookie and pay a special visit with Santa.
Do something generous for another. Bring along a new, unwrapped toy to donate to the San Francisco Police Department’s Annual Toy Drive.
This event takes place from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Cap off the evening with free admission to the Conservatory of Flowers.
Feel the Force NightLife – California Academy of Sciences – December 5
Calling all Jedis!
This evening pays homage to all things Star Wars.
Throughout the Academy, take snapshots with costumed guests, like members of the Mandalorian Mercs, Rebel Legion, and R2 Builders. You are also encouraged to come in your finest galactic threads. The Philippine Coral Reef serves up cocktails with a side of music. The Golden Gate Knights will entertain with lightsaber duels hosted in African Hall, while the Saber Guild hosts lightsaber workshops in a “Jedi Academy.”
In the Piazza, DJ King Most delivers a snowy silent disco from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Other entertainment: A DJ set by Make It Funky and a live performance by Monster Rally.
All of the festivities run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. You must be 21 years or older to participate in the fun. Proper identification will be checked at the door. Tickets range from $12 to $15 (depending on whether you are a member). To get your ticket, click here.
Make Your Own Drum Workshop – de Young Museum – December 7
As part of the Free Saturdays celebration at the Museum, Wilsey Court hosts a drum-making workshop with Jahi that’ll teach you the history of the instrument. This master lesson incorporates various drum rhythms and guides you to make your very own drum. This activity is fun for all ages and a great way to get the family jammin’ together.
This workshop runs from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Wreath-Making Workshop – SF Botanical Garden – December 7
The wreath is a traditional sight during the holidays.
The Garden has been hosting wreath-making workshops for over five years now. Participants use all sorts of materials gathered from the park to create one-of-a-kind holiday wreaths.
The workshop instructor of this year is Baylor Chapman, the founder and principal designer of Lila B. Design. She has over ten years of experience in garden and floral design under her belt.
With your workshop fee, materials are provided, such as a wire frame, ribbons, and greenery. To enhance your wreath, you can bring scissors, clippers, and any other embellishments you desire—from satin ribbon to sparkly bulbs.
There are two separate workshops available on this day:
- 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
- 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The fee for adult wreath-makers is $75; tickets for children are $15.
To purchase tickets, click here.
Free Guided Trail & Nature Walk – Stow Lake – December 7
Every first Saturday, locals gather to enjoy a free guided walk through the park. Here, you’ll come across native plants and critters while getting the heart pumping a bit. There’s no need to preregister—simply meet up at the Stow Lake Boathouse at 10 a.m., and you’re good to go.
This invigorating outing takes place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Winter Studio Sale – Sharon Arts Studio – December 8
If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind holiday gifts, consider the creativity on display at Sharon Arts Studio’s annual winter studio sale. The Glass Studio is the place to be to view artworks from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Come browse original, handmade items created by studio instructors, staff, and students; there will be hundreds of affordably unique gift ideas to consider.
A portion of the proceeds is donated to Friends of Sharon Arts Studio.
Magnetic Silhouettes with the SFPL Bookmobile – SF Botanical Garden – December 9
Ignite the creativity in kids with a trip to the Techmobile at the Garden, where children learn how to craft free-moving silhouettes that make awesome winter gifts, refrigerator art, and shadow puppets. Kids will explore image searching and digital tracing before watching their pictures come to life with the Techmobile’s paper cutter.
This free event runs from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Holiday Bazaar – California Academy of Sciences – December 12
Every year, the Academy hosts an annual holiday bazaar where you get to shop a marketplace of creations and wares from an assortment of local merchants and artisans. It’s an ideal time to snag a few original holiday gifts for loved ones.
Just some of the items on display:
- Handmade jewelry
- Original artwork
- Gifts for science buffs
As part of the ‘Tis the Season for Science: Life on Ice exhibit, hit the dance floor with mesmerizing, sparkling “snowflakes” overhead. Tunes for the night come courtesy of DJ BAD DJ.
Let the resident mixologist Shane McKnight conjure something up for you at the NightLife bar area—fresh seasonal “craft on draft” cocktails are served during every event. Stop by the Academy Café or check out the eats at the Café Food Cart in the front lobby.
The evening’s lineup of fun begins at 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. This party is for the 21+ crowd, and valid IDs must be shown at the door. Members pay $12 for admission, while non-members are charged $15. Click here to reserve your space and buy a ticket.
Chinese Brush Painting Exhibit Tour for Families – SF Botanical Garden – December 15
Noted artist and teacher Joseph Yan hosts a family-friendly exhibit tour of A Classical Eye: Chinese Brush Paintings of the Botanical Garden from the Teachers and Students of The Pine Studio. Other activities are planned for this event, including an art scavenger hunt and stamping exercise that produces a free, take-home souvenir.
There are no separate opportunities to attend this event:
- 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. (primarily English)
- 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (primarily Mandarin)
There is no cost to participate, but you can RSVP here.
This event is suitable for children ages 8 and up, and will be held in theSan Francisco Botanical Garden Library. To get your ticket(s), click here.
Golden Gate Park Cross Country 5K – Polo Field – December 15
Begin this off-road competition on the upper dirt track of the south side of Polo Field until you reach the finish line on the lower paved track on the same south side.
As you race along the paved path, you’ll complete a counter-clockwise loop of the dirt track. Some of the park’s fixtures to look out for on the course include Chain of Lakes Drive, Kennedy Drive, Upper Speedway Meadow, and the “Big Tree.”
This event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
To learn more details and see how much it costs to participate, click here.
Polo 5K – Polo Fields – December 22
Head for the south side of Polo Fields to participate in a 5K run on a course that involves Middle Drive, Bernice Rogers Way, Kennedy Drive, and Transverse Drive.
This race runs from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
For additional race details and fee information, click here.
Miracle Mile/5K Holiday Classic – Peacock Meadow – December 22
Runners of all ages are encouraged to stretch their legs in a pre-holiday run that benefits the UCSF Diabetes Center. There will be two events; you can participate in one or both: A fast, certified downhill 1-mile run (8:15 a.m. start) and a fast, certified 5K course (9 a.m. start).
If you register before December 13, you receive an event T-shirt and medal; all other participants are not guaranteed the extras. You can register onsite for a slight price increase.
For details on when and where to pick up race packets, and to register for this event, click here.
Holiday Garden Free Day – SF Botanical Garden – December 25
The Garden doesn’t sleep, not even on Christmas!
Come view the beautiful blooms and seasonal greenery from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
It is free for everyone to enjoy on Christmas Day. If you miss out this time around, another opportunity to visit the Garden at no cost is on New Year’s Day.
Cut & Sew Workshop – de Young Museum – December 28
Join Julian Prince Dash for an interactive workshop that explores the art of sewing and brings your custom designs to life. Open to all ages, you’ll work on creating a tote bag—no sewing skills needed to participate. This workshop is part of Free Saturdays at the Museum and runs from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. It will be held at Wilsey Court.
Master Class in Mural History – de Young Museum – December 28
Time to get schooled!
Delve into the history of murals with an expert on public art: Jim Prigoff.
Prigoff has a 50-year career taking photographs and writing books on this artform. He’ll give a presentation, followed by a 20-mural light projection located in the Soul of a Nation exhibition. This master class takes place at Koret Auditorium, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and is part of de Young’s Free Saturdays programming.
Rainbow Falls Holiday 5K & Kids Run – JFK & Transverse Drive – December 29
Enjoy the last run for the year with a holiday 5K for the older crowd and race for the kiddies.
This course starts at Kennedy Drive and takes runners to McLaren Lodge before a turnaround at the Barricade at Kezar Drive. Before returning to Kennedy Drive, the route winds up and around East Conservatory Drive.
Following the 5K’s completion, cheer on the youngsters participating in the Kids ½-mile Run, which starts and finishes close to the same location as the adult race.
The entire event is slated for 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
For more race information and to see the fee schedule, click here.
The Mermen New Years Eve Bash – Beach Chalet – December 31
Count down the New Year in style.
Celebrate the holiday on Ocean Beach with The Mermen, whose show starts at 9 p.m. This is one of few venues in San Francisco that places you on the Ocean. Go for the gusto: Enjoy a Beach Chalet dinner before dancing the night away. To get your ticket, click here.