It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays at Golden Gate Park. Your favorite tree lighting ceremony is back with carnival rides and snow this month! The Entwined light installation returns with even more to see and experience. Enjoy endless Winter Lights performances with a collection of family-friendly Golden Gate Park events for December 2021. Celebrate the last full moon of 2021 at the park! There’s also a lot happening at the de Young Museum and California Academy of Sciences.

Get out your calendars to jot down these festive December events:

Entwined – Peacock Meadow – Now – February 1, 2022

What better time than now to have the Entwined illuminated forest return to Golden Gate Park? And, good news, there are a handful of new features for you to enjoy. There are two large trees (15 to 20 feet tall), plus ten new medium-sized trees ranging from 8 to 14 feet in height and 40 new ‘flower clusters’ in various sizes. Other features include QR codes that visitors can use to enjoy new elements of the installation, including the ability to create custom lighting patterns and find hidden details. A new audio system also intensifies the overall experience.

Holiday Tree Lighting – McLaren Lodge – December 2

A “Winter Lights” celebration and the lighting of Uncle John’s tree returns to Golden Gate Park, in front of McLaren Lodge at 6 p.m. Golden Gate Bandshell performances kick off at 6:30 p.m. with the first lighting of the Entwined show at 7 p.m. Carnival rides, food trucks, and snow are all part of the experience. This event runs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Sunset Holiday Mercantile – SF County Fair Building – December 4 & 5

Welcome to the 6th Annual Sunset Holiday Mercantile at the San Francisco Fair Building—this two-day event is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., where you can do a little holiday shopping in between sampling local artisan foods, beer, and wine. There will be entertainment for the kids, plus plenty of arts, crafts, antiques, and gifts to keep you busy. Admission is free.

GGP Bandshell Concert [Latin] – GGP Bandshell – December 4

Today, we celebrate Latin Singer/Songwriter Day with Peña Toribio presenting Tardeada De Solistas Latinx. This is a free event. The following performers are scheduled to perform:

  • 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. Obrayan Calderón
  • 12:45 p.m to 1:15 p.m. Mariela Herrera
  • 1:30 p.m to 2 p.m. Daniel Riera (Latin Alternative Electronic)
  • 2:15 p.m to 2:45 p.m. Chris Mayorga
  • 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monica Maria Fimbrez

Holiday Kids Show – GGP Bandshell – December 5

Bring the kiddies to the SF Parks Alliance Holiday Edition Kids Show with Charity and the JAMBand to get in the holiday spirit at one of your favorite parks. This event is free and runs from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Crucial Reggae Sunday – GGP Bandshell – December 5, 12, 19

If you’re craving reggae tunes, spend the evening at Golden Gate Park with DJ Jah Yzer and special guests from 4:30 p.m. to  7:30 p.m.

GGP Bandshell Concert [Words & Light] – GGP Bandshell – December 5, 8, 10, 16, 19, 22, 24, 26, 29, 31

There are plenty of themed Words & Light events planned for the Bandshell with various performances, activities, and other holiday entertainment to enjoy.

The following events for December 2021:

  • Dec 5: Youth Poetry Day – Join 826 Valencia for a Youth Poetry Day celebration from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Dec 8: Big Steppin’ through 2021 with Stunnaman from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. includes appearances by DJ Corvette (5:30 – 6:30 p.m.), Conversation KQED-FM “Rightnowish” host Pendarvis Harshaw & Stunnaman (6:30 – 7:15 p.m.), and a live performance by Shy’an G & AFT (7:15 – 8:00 p.m.).
  • Dec 10: Two legendary acts from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., including Jaz Sawyer Trio (4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.) and Kev Choice (6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.)
  • Dec 16: Radical Roots: A MoAD Poetry Reading from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. features Darius Simpson, Asia Bryant-Wilkerson, Landon Smith, and Jazz Hudson.
  • Dec 19: Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Showcase from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., including finalists and laureates from 2015 to present, including Myra Estrada, Dara Kashayar, Zouhair Mussa, and Tova Rocardo.
  • Dec 22: A Celebration of Poet June Jordan from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., hosted by Alie Jones and featuring Aya De Leon, Thea Matthews, and Yv. Etaghene.
  • Dec 24: The Docks from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with readings featuring Aniyah Keith, Ladi Rev, Jéan Teodoro, Javier Reyes, and Tanea Lunsford Lynx.
  • Dec 26: UMOJA/Kwanzaa Celebration from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. includes the 16th annual San Francisco Kwanzaa celebration with the Museum of the African Diaspora. The Village Project, and poet Tyanna Braswell.
  • Dec 29: R&R ritual featuring an Open Mic hosted by Dr. Ayodele Nzinga and featuring Avotcja, Vernon Kleeve, and Mia Pixley from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Dec 31: Turning with Tarot: Welcoming 2022 is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and features poetry, dance, music, and tarot readings from the new 81-card Tarot in Pandemic and Revolution deck (Nomadic Press, 2021), which represents the original works of 24 visual artists and 43 poets.

NightLife: Holiday Bazaar – California Academy of Sciences – December 9

This annual holiday marketplace event features a handful of gift-ready creations you won’t want to miss. You can expect handmade jewelry, ceramics, pottery, original artwork, and much more from over 30 local merchants and makers. The night also includes a special presentation of the Polar Night Sky tour in the planetarium at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

A list of featured vendors for this event includes:

  • Bottle of Clouds
  • Coffee n Cream Press
  • Arcadian Stained Glass
  • Granny Panty Designs
  • Lunar Garden Jewelry
  • Sud Sweets
  • Bunnycone Designs
  • Tuesday Candle Company

NightLife events at the Academy run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. You must be at least 21 years old to attend. Keep in mind that all guests 12+ must provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of a scheduled visit. Click here to get your ticket.

SF Parks Alliance Holiday Hootenanny – GGP Bandshell – December 11

Join ten performers as they sing one of their favorite holiday songs. This free event is from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and features the voices of Jason Crawford, Donovan Plant, Sara Rodenburg, Ben Lang, Anna Karney, Stephanie Woodford, Steven Pitsenbarger, and Chris Peck.

“Art in California” Book Presentation and Signing – de Young Museum – December 11

Join Author Jenni Sorkin in the Koret Auditorium from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. for a book talk followed by a signing of Sorkin’s “Art in California,” “an illustrated history of modern and contemporary art from the early twentieth century to the present day.” The book is available for purchase in advance online and at the museum store. This event is free.

Kennedy Drive 8K – Middle Drive Start – December 12

When you’re looking for a challenge that’s a little longer than a 5K, join the Dolphin South End Runners for an uphill trek that takes you through Middle Drive, Overlook Drive, Kennedy Drive, and Kezar Drive. The race begins at 9 a.m.

To get more details, visit

Please note: Races are currently limited to 100 participants max. DSE Members receive pre-registration links by email. The Dolphin South End Runners is opening up a small number of pre-registrations for this event to non-members for $10 on (search for DSE). In addition, walk-up race day registration is available when space permits.

Half Day Meditation Retreat – SF Botanical Garden – December 12

Join Charity Kahn of the award-winning Charity and the JAMband for an extended meditation practice period from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Relax and unwind with alternating sessions of sitting meditation, walking meditation, gentle moving meditation, and Qigong. For more details, to buy tickets ($60), and learn what else you should bring to this event, click here.

SF Youth Chorus Winter Memories Concert – GGP Bandshell – December 12

This concert features the San Francisco Youth Chorus, a group of children from the San Francisco, California area in grades K-12, who will present a musical presentation to celebrate the season. This free event is scheduled from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Singer/Songwriter Wednesday – GGP Bandshell – December 15

The “Sirens at the Shell” concert features the talent of singers and songwriters. The free show runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and showcases the sounds of Nefertitti (4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.), Fo Fera (5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.), and Essence Goldman (6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.).

Science Under the Sea Stars – California Academy of Sciences – December 15

Are you ready for family-friendly fun? The Academy invites you to celebrate the “science and spirit of the season” with an evening event just for kids and families. Science Under the Sea Stars includes special programs (like a holiday-themed magic show!), a festive cookie-decorating station, snow science experiments, interactive animal displays, puppet shows, special holiday menu items (think eggnog pudding), and winter-themed crafts. All of the exhibits are open late, and there will even be snow flurries to help set the mood.

This event runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and costs:

  • Adults 18+: $49.95
  • Youth 3-17: $38.95
  • Children 2 and under: Free

Please note that all children must be accompanied by an adult. Before you visit: All guests 12+ must provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of a scheduled visit. Get your ticket here.

Howl Fest – GGP Bandshell – December 18

To celebrate the last full moon of 2021, a special musical performance, poetry, and howling is planned to mark the occasion. This free event is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Opening Day Celebration: Elem Pomo – de Young Museum – December 18

Enjoy a public opening celebration of “Jules Tavernier and the Elem Pomo” with family activities, a film screening, and mfom Xe (people dance) and Pomo Shake Head dance performances by Elem Pomo dancers.  This presentation and exhibition collaborates with Pomo cultural leaders and curators and is from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Free event.

The schedule of events:

  • 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. at Wilsey Court: Dance performances by Elem Pomo dancers
  • 3 p.m. at Koret Auditorium: Film Screening + Q+A with exhibition co-presenters Robert Geary, Sherrie Smith-Ferri, and Meyo Marrufo

Holiday Garden Free Day – SF Botanical Garden – December 25

Just when you thought there was nowhere to go for the holidays…the Garden is open on Christmas Day from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s free for everyone to enjoy.

Rainbow Falls “Festivus” 5K – JFK Drive/Kennedy Drive Start – December 26 & 27

Run off a few of those holiday pounds before the New Year with a DSE run from Kennedy Drive to McLaren Lodge, the Barricade at Kezar Drive, East Conservatory Drive, and back to Kennedy. This race starts at 9 a.m. Please note: A small number of pre-registrations to non-members are available for $10 on (search for DSE). In addition, walk-up race day registration is possible when space permits.

For more information, check out

Golden Gate Park Monthly Recurring Events

Other December 2021 recurring monthly events at Golden Gate Park include:

Dec 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 – Free admission hour at Japanese Tea Garden, every Wednesday 9 a.m.

Dec 4 – Family Art-Making at the de Young Museum at 11 a.m. Free.

Dec 4, 11, 18 – Blankets & Wine Comedy at Polo Field Bleachers (3 p.m.- 4:30 p.m.) – free (more details)

Dec 5, 12, 19–  Golden Gate Park Roller Disco Party at the Skatin’ Place – 6th Ave. and Kennedy Drive from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., free (every Sunday)

Dec 5, 12, 19, 26 – Outdoor Yoga, every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. $15. Get tickets here.

Dec 5, 12, 19, 26 – “Lindy in the Park” swing dance party, every Sunday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Dec 7 – San Francisco Botanical Garden’s Free Day (2nd Tuesdays)

Dec 7 – SF Conservatory of Flowers Free First Tuesday – 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Dec 7, 14, 21, 28 – Beach Chalet Prime Rib Special + live music with Sam Peoples and visiting acoustic musicians, plus martini specials, every Monday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Dec 10 – Women and Non-Binary Bike S.F. 7:15 a.m. start – McLaren Lodge (more details)

Dec 10, 17, 24 – Lakehouse Jazz at Stow Lake Boathouse (more details)

Dec 11 – NAMI Saturday Strolls (monthly) at Murphy Windmill, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. (details)

Dec 11 & 18 – Sketching in the Galleries (11 a.m.) Free at de Young Museum

Dec 11 & 18– Free de Young Museum Day for Bay Area Resident (every Saturday)