The DVR has recorded Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the DVD of the all-time best Christmas show ever, Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (the original version), is sitting on the coffee table.  Nothing else is necessary in order to get into the Holiday spirit.  Ok, ok,  there are other things like shopping and wine tasting and menorah lighting and carol singing and tra-la-la-la-la-ing around hip San Francisco neighborhoods.  The fact that almost all of these cool Holiday events are happening this Thursday makes me wish I had Santa’s magic sleigh so I could get to all of them in one night!

While this list is by no means exhaustive, the SFhotlist team considers these activities to be essential to getting in the Holiday mood in San Francisco. (If you feel we have missed an important event, please let us know!)  We support the “shop local” movement.  These events offer great opportunities to check out small businesses in San Francisco and get something for each person on your gift list…and to treat yourself while you’re at it.

(NOTE:  During this time of year, the weekend must start on Thursday evening.)

Thursday December 6, 2012

Bernal Heights Annual Holiday Stroll 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM:  This gem of a neighborhood shows its true sparkle at night.  Maybe its the hustle and bustle created by the amazing restaurants, lively bars, cafes and shops. Maybe its all the energy generated at Bernal Yoga and fitBernalfit. Whatever magic sauce is getting cooked up in Bernal Heights, let’s hope it doesn’t run out before Thursday night.

Noe Valley Holiday Wine Walk 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM Rain or Shine: Noe Valley turns into your favorite town in the wine country and you don’t have to leave the city to enjoy it.  This event brings together so many wonderful things:  wine, the festive holiday atmosphere of Noe Valley, dozens of fantastic Noe Valley merchants, snacks, treats and more wine. Purchase a $30 “Tasting Wristband”, get your wine glass and tastings map and off you go!

83rd Annual Holiday Tree Lighting by San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department at McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park (501 Stanyan St) 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM :  Kick off the Holidays with this time-honored tradition. SF Rec and Parks has been lighting its holiday tree, a 100-foot Monterey cypress in front of McLaren Lodge, for almost as long as the tree has been alive.  Enjoy free carnival rides, arts and crafts, live entertainment & a visit from Santa.  This event is definitely one the kids will enjoy.

Drag Queens on Ice 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM :  You shopped, you wine tasted, you sang a Christmas Carol or two, you even walked *up* Cortland Avenue’s hill from Mission Street. So, what’s next? A trip downtown to the  Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square for  the “Bigger, Better and Bawdier!” Drag Queens on Ice extravaganza!  The big question that will be answered Thursday night is:  Who will be crowned the 2012 Ice Drag Queen and King ?

Friday December 7, 2012

Hayes Valley Holiday Block Party 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM – back for its 21st year! 5th Annual Mission Holiday Block Party 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

Attending at least one, if not both, of these two block parties is a no-brainer.  Shop, eat, drink, admire art, mess around with artsy stuff and carouse (safely and mannerly) in two of the BEST neighborhoods in San Francisco.  On Friday evening, the most awesome array of small, local businesses in Hayes Valley and the Mission welcome everyone with open doors.

As Hayeswire tells it, there will be a “pretty spectacular silent auction at Patricia’s Green.” The event is sponsored by the HVNA, Hayes Valley Merchant’s Association, Community Partners United, and local businesses. Neighborhood stores will stay open with lots of sales, food, and drink. With all of those funky shops in Hayes Valley, you are bound to get a big chunk of your shopping done. Don’t forget to stop in at the fabled Marlena’s Bar at 488 Hayes Street to stand in awe of the fabulous display of  Santa Claus figurines, ornaments and dolls – about 1,400 by last count. One special note :  kids are allowed inside Marlena’s to witness the wonderment of the Santas from noon to 5:00 PM.

Stores, galleries, bars and restaurants around the Mission want you to have fun, it’s as simple as that. They want to make sure that their neighbors, friends and family enjoy all that the Mission has to offer.  A whole bunch of them are committed to showing you the time of your life at the Mission Holiday Block Party.  This block party will be epic (yes, I used that word)!  What you’ll find: live music, DJs, food and drink specials, entertainment, comedy, cool and unique things to look at and buy, and the vibe of life in the Mission. The lineup of participating merchants is impressive as are the enticing specials they will be offering.

 Saturday December 8, 2012

San Francisco 2012 Chanukah Festival of Lights in Union Square 7:00 PM:  The lighting of the first candle on the 25-foot-tall mahogany Bill Graham Menorah in Union Square will take place. With his help, Chabad of SF first lit this giant Menorah in 1975 – at that time, it was the first big public menorah outside of Israel. The Bill Graham Menorah Project provides the fascinating background for this event:  “The first giant public menorah went up in San Francisco’s Union Square, in 1975. Erected with the support of the late rock promoter and Holocaust survivor Bill Graham…Bill Graham built and supported the annual lighting of the Menorah until his death….In 1993, Mayor Frank Jordan declared that the first Sunday of Chanukah would forever be Bill Graham Menorah Day.”  To this day, the impact Bill Graham has had on San Francisco is incredible.

Keep the Hanukkah celebrations going on Saturday and/or Sunday at The Old World Food Truck’s 2nd Annual Hanukkah Pop-Up Dinner.

Sunday December 9, 2012
By far the coolest events: wrap presents, light your Menorah, hang out and relax.
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