Christmas Tree Lightings in the East Bay & San Francisco (2019) - 510 Families

Christmas Tree Lightings in the East Bay & San Francisco (2019)

This festive list of Christmas tree lighting events was sponsored by Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco.

I love the idea of a public Christmas tree lighting. In my imagination, the children are bundled up all cozy and snug from a chilly evening staying up a bit past bedtime; we all countdown to the ignition; we celebrate a glorious sight. Twinkling Christmas Magic!

Ghirardelli Square’s Christmas tree lighting
Ring in the holiday season at Ghirardelli Square’s 55th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Ghirardelli Square’s 55th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place on Black Friday, November 29th, from 4-9 pm in the West Plaza. In addition to the lights going on the ginormous tree, you and your family can join in to celebrate the season with Santa Claus, crafts, and seasonal music by Kevin Toqe Music. Come early and have plenty of time to enjoy the decorations and festivities. (Note that parking is about $20 most places around Ghirardelli Square)

Ghirardelli Square Santa Claus
Ho ho ho! Ghirardelli Square tree lighting has Santa Claus, too.

These events are often crowded and my small children are too short to see anything. Choose a family-friendly Christmas tree lighting-up ceremony — or ceremonies — based on how easy it is for you to get there or the wonderful other activities, then be prepared with a back-up plan for bored, hungry, confused kids who need the potty at the worst moments. Ice skating nearby? Perfect. A holiday cocoa? Yes! Some of these events offer extra Christmas magic like a carriage ride. How to choose?

I offer you these tree lighting ceremonies in chronological order. Tell me which ones you’ve visited!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Tree Lighting Celebration at City Center Bishop Ranch

Location: City Center Bishop Ranch – 6000 Bollinger Canyon Road San Ramon
City Center Bishop Ranch will continue its holiday festivities and celebrations with the second annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Event on Friday, November 22.…
5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cost: FREE

Friday, November 29, 2019

Alameda South Shore Center’s Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

Location: Alameda South Shore Center, Center Court – 523 South Shore Center West Alameda
On Friday, November 29, Alameda South Shore Center – a retail, dining, and entertainment destination located on the banks of the San Francisco Bay –…
3:00 pm - 7:45 pm
Cost: Free

Ghirardelli Square’s 55th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

Location: Ghirardelli Square – 900 North Point Street San Francisco
Join in to celebrate the season with Santa Claus, crafts, and seasonal music by Kevin Toqe Music. Ghirardelli Square’s 55th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will take…
4:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cost: FREE

Niles Festival of Lights Parade

Niles Festival of Lights Parade
Location: Niles Town Plaza – 37592 Niles Blvd Fremont
Niles annual tree lighting and Festival of Lights Parade is the Friday after Thanksgiving features 60 unique floats, marching bands, costumed characters, and Santa Claus.…
5:45 pm - 7:30 pm
Cost: FREE

Riveter Shop Tree Lighting

Location: Riveter – 1287 Gilman St Berkeley
Join a first-ever tree lighting event at this Berkeley boutique. Hot cocoa and cookies will be available for the kids. Shop a great selection of…
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Cost: FREE

Union Square Tree Lighting in San Francisco

Location: Union Square – Geary and Powell San Francisco
For those who thrive in the crowds, Macy's 30th Annual Tree Lighting will take place in Union Square Park between Sutter & Geary streets and…
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Cost: FREE

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Holiday Magic - Santa, Ornament Workshop & Horse Rides

Location: Orinda Theatre Square – 2 Orinda Theatre Square Orinda
Stop by Orinda Theatre Square for some holiday magic. Last year's schedule included: • Tree Lighting at 7pm • Performance by Lamorinda Theatre Academy •…
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Cost: Free

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Holiday Remembrance Tree and Lighting

Location: Mountain View Cemetery – 5000 Piedmont Avenue Oakland
Honor someone close to you with a commemorative ornament. Children are welcome to participate, but please note that this event is more serious in tone.…
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Cost: FREE

Colusa Circle Tree Lighting

Location: Colusa Circle – 398 Colusa Ave Kensington
The Colusa Circle Tree Lighting is a festive evening celebration kicking off the winter holiday season. Join in for the 3rd Annual Colusa Circle Tree…
4:45 pm - 5:45 pm
Cost: Free

Monday, December 2, 2019

Castro Tree Lighting with choral performances

Location: The Castro in San Francisco – Castro St & 18th St San Francisco
Join in some sing-along carols as the Band and SF Gay Men’s Chorus ring in the holiday season with the lighting of the 28-foot tree…
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Civic Center Plaza Tree Lighting

Location: Civic Center Plaza (San Francisco) – McAllister St. San Francisco
The free, family-friendly Civic Center Plaza Holiday Tree Lighting returns on December 4, 4-7pm! This festive event features holiday entertainment, “snow” flurries, festive bites and…
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Cost: FREE

Friday, December 6, 2019

Pittsburg Tree Lighting Ceremony

Location: John Buckley Square, Old Town Pittsburg – 525 Railroad Ave. Pittsburg
Show your holiday spirit by joining in the annual tree lighting ceremony in Old Town Pittsburg. Music begins at 5 pm, and the tree lighting…
5:00 pm - 5:45 pm
Cost: FREE

It's a Wonderful Night

Location: Downtown San Leandro – 320 West Estudillo Ave. San Leandro
For the 25th year, it is time to bring your family Downtown to an evening of magic and fun, ushering in San Leandro’s holiday season.…
5:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Cost: FREE

Upside down tree lighting

Upside down tree lighting
Location: Westfield San Francisco Centre – 865 Market Street San Francisco
This spectacular tree lighting event features an inverted upside down 50-foot tree in the Westfield shopping center . FREE but requires RSVP.
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Cost: FREE

Saturday, December 7, 2019

City of Alameda Mayor's Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

Location: Alameda City Hall – 2263 Santa Clara Ave Alameda
Come and enjoy performances from community groups followed by the tree lighting ceremony RAIN OR SHINE. Entertainment at 4:30 p.m. Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5:30…
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Cost: FREE

There are many wonderful events this time of year for families, and you can probably hit more than one, even with a three-year old clutching your leg and begging for a cookie.

Carolers in front of tree at Alameda South Shore
Carolers in front of Christmas Tree at Alameda South Shore

Find more to do this Holiday Season in our East Bay Holiday Guide.

GHIR LogoThis festive round-up of Christmas tree lighting events was sponsored by Ghirardelli Square.

[Thanks to Ghirardelli Square and Alameda South Shore for providing images]

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