Tree Lighting Ceremonies 2011 – San Francisco Bay Area, London, New York City… and more!

Macy's Union Square Tree Lighting in San Francisco, CA

It’s approaching that festive time of year when Tree Lighting Ceremonies take place in cities around the world – a FUN time to be outside with your family and friends celebrating the upcoming Holiday Season.

Here are a few of our favorite Tree Lighting Ceremonies and Holiday Parades that are taking place this year in the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, North Bay, East Bay, San Jose, Monterey, Napa Valley), New York City and London.

Macy’s Union Square Tree Lighting Ceremony always takes place on the Friday after Thanksgiving around 6pm. Arrive early and expect crowds – apart from the city’s premier shopping destination, Union Square is one of the most popular tree lighting venues in San Francisco.

Ghirardelli Square Tree Lighting Ceremony also takes place on the Friday after Thanksgiving at approximately 5:30pm. If you plan it right, you can see this tree lighting and make your way over to Union Square to catch that one too!

This year, Pier 39’s Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving (November 20th), beginning with a day of fun holiday festivities and live entertainment starting around 12 noon. The Christmas Tree will be illuminated at 5:30pm – this makes a fun day out for kids and big kids too!

Santana Row Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place at a NEW location this year – at the Giant Chessboard on Santana Row (formerly at Park Valencia) in San Jose, on Tuesday, November 15th at approximately 7pm.

Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade always takes place on the first Sunday after Thanksgiving in downtown Los Altos at 6pm. Enjoy lighted floats, High School marching bands, costumed characters – and Santa and his reindeer!

San Rafael Parade of Light & Winter Wonderland takes place on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Parade begins at 5:30pm. After the parade, Santa Claus, Ms Claus, the Mayor of San Rafael and other costumed characters arrive at City Plaza for the official Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Cannery Row Tree Lighting Ceremony always takes place the day after Thanksgiving at Steinbeck Plaza, in the heart of downtown Monterey, usually around 6pm. Plan a fun holiday getaway weekend in Monterey and/or nearby Carmel – two of California’s most romantic and scenic destinations.

Napa Valley Wine Country is a fun place to visit… anytime of the year! Napa’s Tree Lighting Party takes place the day before Thanksgiving, on Wednesday, November 24th in Veteran’s Park (corner of Third and Main) at 6pm. Enjoy free hot chocolate, cookies and live entertainment as Napa’s Mayor lights up the Christmas Tree.

Napa’s Annual Christmas Parade takes place later in the week, beginning at 5pm on Saturday, November 26th. Visit with Santa after the parade and enjoy free cookies and hot chocolate at Oxbow Public Market.

Don’t miss Yountville’s Festival of Lights on Friday, November 25th – the fun all-day festival features gourmet food, fine wine, live entertainment, a visit with Santa Claus, carolers and horse-drawn carriage rides – town lighting is at 5:30pm. Yountville is one of Napa Valley’s most charming and historic towns.

Rockefeller Center’s world-famous Christmas Tree Lighting takes place on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving (November 30th) at approximately 8:55pm at Rockefeller Center in New York City. This FUN holiday event always draws a huge crowd so if you’re planning on being there in person, be sure to arrive early for a good viewing spot. The annual star-studded event, filled with holiday festivities, various celebrity appearances and live entertainment features popular music and classic holiday tunes. For those of you watching the Tree Lighting Ceremony at home (we never miss it unless we’re traveling), the fun two-hour event will be broadcast live on NBC. Check local TV listing times.

London’s Trafalgar Square Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on Thursday, December 1st.  Expect the famous square and tree lighting event to draw massive crowds during this busy holiday season. The tree will be on display in Trafalgar Square (in the heart of London) until just before the 12th Night of Christmas.

Tell us about your city Tree Lighting Ceremonies. Do you have a favorite one that you go to every year?

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3 thoughts on “Tree Lighting Ceremonies 2011 – San Francisco Bay Area, London, New York City… and more!”

  1. San Francisco 49er Running Back Frank Gore and recording artists Pia Toscano & Andy Grammer will light the holiday tree at 555 California Street on Tuesday, November 29th. The festivities will kick off at 4:00 pm and are free and open to the public.

    This year’s tree lighting is hosted by Vornado Realty Trust, a New York-based real estate investment trust (REIT) and one of the largest owners of commercial properties in the United States. The event will also feature appearances from Autism Speaks, who is this year’s charity beneficiary, as well as the Dick Bright Orchestra.

    The event will include musical performances from Pia Toscano and Andy Grammer. Toscano is best known as being a strong finalist in the tenth season of American Idol. Grammer’s debut album was released in June of this year, featuring pop hit “This Time”.

    Frank Gore will light the tree and toss autographed footballs into the holiday crowd.

    To increase awareness and funding for Autism Speaks, 16 cyclamen trees lining California tree will be available for sponsorship for the duration of the holiday season. The trees will be lit blue in honor of autism awareness and will offer a branded area for the generous sponsors.

    This event is sponsored by KOIT 96.5 and KRON 4 News.

    The annual 555 California tree lighting is a tradition that was re-wakened by Vornado Realty Trust in 2007, when it acquired the iconic building. Last year the event featured Vernon Davis of the 49ers and recording artist Natasha Bedingfield. Other previous guests include Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and Gold Medalist Misty May-Treanor.

    As one of San Francisco’s largest family holiday events, 555 California will once again feature one of the tallest trees in the region throughout the holiday season.

    1. Thanks for the add’l info on the 555 CA St Tree Lighting. Great entertainment – and Frank Gore should draw quite a crowd! I’ve updated the Holiday Tree Lighting page on our Love to Eat and Travel website.

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