It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Winter Wander-land in San Francisco’s Union Square
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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Winter Wander-land in San Francisco’s Union Square
10 November 2023, San Francisco, CA: Cable Car Bells are Ringing! San Francisco’s beloved variety of Winter traditions return for the 2nd Annual Winter Wander-land campaign – a seasonally perfect reason to explore all that the district has to offer via the Union Square Alliance website: www.VisitUnionSquareSF.com.
“Union Square is where we come to celebrate life’s greatest moments, and the holidays have always been a big part of that,” said Marisa Rodriguez, CEO of the Union Square Alliance. “This year, we are thrilled to announce the return of our Winter Wander-land campaign that will encompass all holiday programming and activities in the Union Square District, inviting locals and tourists alike to ‘wander’ throughout the district, exploring all the holiday activations, old and new, while re-discovering the heart of the City, Union Square, this holiday season”
Not just a “good time” but also a “good for business” endeavor, Union Square’s Winter Wander-land draws praise from other city leaders and partners, emphasizing the importance of such events for the City’s economic vitality.
“Union Square attracts residents and visitors from all over the world who want to enjoy our exceptional retail, art, and cultural experiences,” said Mayor Breed. “Winter Wander-land is a wonderful experience that celebrates Union Square as an amazing holiday destination for the whole family. The City will continue to bring forward programs and initiatives to support Union Square and boost Downtown’s economy.”
“The Winter Wander-land campaign is a great opportunity for businesses of all sizes in San Francisco to showcase their products and services,” said Rodney Fong, President and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a time when people come together to celebrate the holidays and support local businesses.”
“At the Westin St. Francis, we take great pride in our role as a grand contributor to Union Square traditions,” said General Manager Clif Clark. “Our iconic Sugar Castle, Pop! Lounge, Breakfast with Santa, and the many other delights we offer are our way of showcasing our commitment to creating unforgettable holiday experiences. Located directly on Union Square, the hotel is right in the heart of the Winter Wander-land activities and is the ideal getaway to celebrate the magic of San Francisco’s festivities.”
“Gump’s celebrates another season of our legendary Holiday Shop in downtown San Francisco’s beautiful Union Square. We thank our customers, employees and many partners including the Union Square Alliance for their steadfast support,” said Marc Capalbo, Gump’s – Vice President of Retail Operations. “Union Square is in full holiday spirit – come enjoy our amazing collections. Gump’s has been a holiday destination for generations of Bay Area families and we look forward to continuing that tradition here in Union Square.”
Additionally, hospitality leaders welcome the impact of all the activations and events.
“The holidays in San Francisco are magical, and we are thrilled to be welcoming back visitors who love to enjoy Union Square’s holiday traditions,” said Cassandra Costello, San Francisco Travel Association EVP, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer. “From the ice-skating rink and larger-than-life beautifully decorated tree and menorah to shopping and dining, there are so many festive things to do and see in Union Square.”
“The Winter Wander-land campaign is a fantastic way for visitors to experience all that San Francisco has to offer during the holiday season,” said Alex Bastian, President and CEO of the Hotel Council of San Francisco. “It’s also a great opportunity for our hotels and hospitality community to showcase their services and amenities.”
While there walking Wander-land, enjoy the many options for food and beverage – new and old.
“What an amazing opportunity to reinvigorate one of the most iconic places in San Francisco. Union Square is the heart of the City, and the home of our two new café experiences Miller & Lux Provisions,” said Tyler Florence. “Through our cafés, we are looking forward to welcoming our community and our City’s visitors back to Union Square.”
“We’ve been witnessing some monumental steps to bring life back to downtown and it’s been great to see the Union Square community come together. At Johnny Foley’s, we’re pumped to deck the halls for the Holidays, continuing our 26-year tradition,” said Martin Connely, Owner of Johnny Foleys . “Being part of Union Square for over two decades, we’ve faced tough times before, but we’re proud to stand alongside the other businesses continuing to bet on the enduring spirit and continued vibrancy of Union Square.”
“We’re proud to be located in Union Square,” said Andrew Chun of P.C.H. “The neighborhood has always been a destination for the Bay Area, especially around the Holidays. Whether you’re grabbing a cocktail at our Miracle Cocktail Pop-up at P.C.H or taking a picture in front of the tree, there’s no better place to be during December.”
Safety continues to be a top priority. 24/7 private security will be in place within Winter Walk, in addition to the popular retired Police Officers Program, augmented by active-duty members of the SFPD, SF Travel Welcome Ambassadors, and Union Square Ambassadors throughout the district team-up to support a welcoming outdoor environment for all to enjoy.
“The San Francisco Police Department will have officers out in force to ensure this holiday season is fun and safe for everyone,” said Police Chief Bill Scott. “We’re collaborating closely with our city partners so we’re able to deter crime and respond quickly when necessary. I want to thank our officers who have been working hard and will continue to keep people safe as we begin this holiday shopping season.”
This year’s Winter Wander-land campaign will feature a plethora of events and activities that will keep visitors and locals entertained throughout the holiday season. The activations include:
Gump’s Holiday Shop,Now Open:
Gump’s Holiday Shop now open at 240 & 250 Post Street in the heart of San Francisco. Come see a magical winter wonderland of joy and delight, brimming with hundreds of glass-blown glass ornaments, enchanting holiday décor, mesmerizing jewelry designs and gifts galore.
The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink, Now – January 12:
Set in San Francisco’s iconic Union Square, the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink is the only outdoor ice rink in the City and is one of the Bay Area’s favorite annual holiday traditions. The season of outdoor skating and special on-ice events kicks off with an Opening Celebration on Wednesday, November 1 at 5 p.m. The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink’s roster of events includes the return of the highly anticipated Drag Queens On Ice, Learn to Skate presented by Kaiser Permanente, Simba Saturdays presented by Disney’s The Lion King, Flashback Fridays presented by 80s+, Silent Skate, and Polar Bear Skate. Tickets are on sale now at www.unionsquareicerink.com.
Macy’s Great Tree now lit through the Holidays: This year as in countless past, Macy’swill be gifting to the City of San Francisco, the Great Holiday Tree. This 83’ tall tree is a twinkling beacon of the holidays and a true highlight for locals and visitors alike.
Macy’s SFSPCA Holiday Windows Return November 17: Macy’s much beloved SFSPCA Holiday Windows features live rescue animals in its 36th annual Holiday Windows display. The main goal of the event is to help loving homes for as many animals as possible.
Westin St. Francis Sugar Castle, November 22 – January 2: The grand Sugar Castle in San Francisco, a creation by Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Francois Houdré, and his team, is set to be revealed in the Landmark Lobby on Wednesday, November 22. This awe-inspiring, 12-feet-tall revolving work of art, which was originally conceptualized in 2005, becomes even more expansive and captivating with each passing year. This year, visitors will enjoy the unique opportunity to see the “inside” the castle through an innovative augmented reality experience.
Westin St. Francis Pop! Lounge, November 24 – December 31 (1pm – 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays; 12pm – 6pm on Sundays): Those seeking a luxurious respite from Union Square shopping can toast to the holidays at POP! Lounge, a glamorous pop-up champagne bar tucked away just off the Landmark Lobby. This sophisticated space is the perfect spot to enjoy a view of the Macy’s Holiday Tree, the ice rink, and the iconic cable cars going by. The menu features Moet and Chandon champagne, beer, non-alcoholic drinks, California Caviar, and small bites available for purchase. Guests can order at the bar and then settle into one of the cozy communal areas or social tables.
The Bill Graham Menorah, December 7 – 15: Bill Graham Menorah is an annual Chanukah Menorah Lighting, in 2023 marking its 48th year! The First Giant Public Menorah outside of Israel has inspired thousands of Menorahs around the world. The eight-day event draws many civic and community leaders and a variety of artists from the Bay Area music community. Celebrities from Carlos Santana to George Zimmer have participated in lighting the Menorah.
Christmas Illuminations Dog Walk, December 8 – 15: Join Hotel Nikko’s fabulously furry canine team (and their pawrents) for a Christmas Iluminations Dog Walk! This pawsome event is all about celebrating the joy of the season with our beloved furbabies. Starting with a holiday beverage at Hotel Nikko, we’ll embark on a magical stroll through the enchantingly illuminated Union Square.
Miracle at PCH, November 24 – December 31: Miracle at Pacific Cocktail Haven is returning to SF for its 8th year. This sparkling holiday pop-up bar is a San Francisco favorite this time of year, as it offers the best in seasonal cocktails, festive photo ops, and holiday cheer.
Winter Walk presented by Amazon, and sponsored by the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development and Office of Mayor London N. Breed: December 15 – 24: The highly anticipated return of Winter Walk! Winter Walk, presented by Amazon and the Union Square Alliance is a festive holiday extravaganza featuring two blocks closed off to vehicles as a lively pedestrian plaza adorned with turf, a tempting array of food trucks and bar options, instagrammable moments with modern artic décor, and an assortment of captivating live performances. Winter Walk became a cherished tradition for both San Francisco locals and visitors from the Bay Area between 2015 and 2018, drawing a staggering 2.2 million attendees in a single year. Based on current data, it is anticipated that 1-2 million people will “wander” through the Union Square Winter Wander-land this Holiday Season.
Winter Walk will be held on Stockton Street from Post – Geary Street and Geary – O’Farrell Street and Maiden Lane between Stockton – Grant. It will feature ten days of activations starting from Friday, December 15 to Sunday, December 24. The Winter Walk will be open from Monday to Wednesdayfrom 12pm to 7pm and Thursday to Sunday from 10am to 9pm. For more information and updated schedules, go online to www.visitunionsquaresf.com