THOUGH SNOW IS never part of the equation, the Bay Area still loves to celebrate the holidays. Many cities and towns have free events for the whole family. Joyful and triumphant revelers can roam from county to county to take part in the season’s fealty, buy one-of-a-kind Christmas crafts, enjoy the Hanukkah Festival of Lights, or celebrate Kwanzaa. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, though most events listed are free.

San Francisco

The Ferry Building is hosting free crafting events throughout the season, Sundays beginning at 10 a.m. The next three weekends will feature snowflake crafts (Dec. 4), Deck the Halls ornament crafts (Dec. 11) and “Pretty Presents” crafts such as hot chocolate ornaments, herb sachets and personalized mugs (Dec. 18).

The San Francisco Public Library will be holding a Kwanzaa Game Day on Dec. 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. This will be the first day of Kwanzaa, also known as Umoja, or “unity.” Ancestors will be honored by the lighting of the first candle of the season, followed by family-friendly games and refreshments.

The annual SantaCon SF bar crawl will take place on Dec. 10 starting in Union Square. It’s free to take part, you need only dress up like some incarnation of Santa Claus. Participants hop from bar to bar, so if you plan on drinking any nog you’ll have to pay for that.

Free crafting events for children and their families are planned at The Ferry Building in San Francisco Sundays through Dec. 18. (Photo courtesy of The Ferry Building)

Macy’s holiday windows are in full effect now through Jan. 1. The popular attraction features adoptable dogs and cats, puppies and kittens in conjunction with the SF SPCA. The fur balls are on display from noon to 5 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays except for Christmas Eve and Day. Macy’s is located in Union Square.

The Fifth Annual Glowing Hanukkah Party will take place at Ghirardelli Square on Dec. 18. Sponsored by the Jewish Community Center San Francisco, this event will feature dreidels and holiday crafts, with a candle lighting and songs. It runs from 3 to 6 p.m.

Finally, the city will be hosting its 10th Annual Illuminate SF Festival of Light, with 62 light installations. More information, including locations, can be found on the website.

East Bay

Pleasanton — The Hometown Holiday Parade will start at 5 p.m. on Dec. 3, complete with marching bands, floats, and community groups. A tree lighting ceremony will follow at 6:45 p.m. (approximate) with music, the mayor, and a special appearance by Santa Claus.

Martinez — Christmas tree lighting and Santa even begins at 4 p.m. In the Main Street Plaza. The city’s annual Hanukkah Community Celebration will take place starting on Dec. 18. Co-sponsored by Congregation B’nai Shalom, the traditional lighting of the menorah will be done every evening at dusk from Dec. 18 through 26 at the Main Street Plaza. There will be music, sufganiyot and fun for the whole family.

Walnut Creek — The Garden of D’Lights will glow at the Ruth Bancroft Garden for the fourth straight year, featuring a drought-tolerant landscape full of cacti, succulents and California native plants get spiffed up with holidays lights, ornamentation, music and lit-up sculptures. The light installation at the garden runs now through Jan. 8 and is located at 1552 Bancroft Rd. Tickets must be purchased.

The Garden of D’Lights event at Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek features native plants decked out in holiday colors. (Photo by Ray Saint Germain/Bay City News)

Berkeley — Toddlers, children up to five and their parents are invited to a holiday carnival at Live Oak Community Center on Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will feature the Snowflake Toss, Big Rain Drop Throw, Windy Parachute Games and Pin the Nose on the Snowman. There will also be an arts and crafts station. Prizes and light refreshments will be available. The center is located at 1301 Shattuck Ave.

Richmond — Downtown Holiday Festival including goodie bag giveaways and pictures with Santa. The festival will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. On Dec. 14 at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.

Brentwood — The Grand Community Chanukah Festival kicks off on Dec. 18 at 4:30 p.m. There will be a menorah lighting with dignitaries, Chanukah donuts and latkes, chocolate gelt, plenty of crafts and even a fire and sword performer. It will take place in City Park in front of the Brentwood City Hall.

North Bay and Wine Country

Windsor — The city’s annual Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting will take place on Dec. 1 from 5 to 8 p.m. on the Town Green. Local schools will present live music showcases at 5 p.m. And then at 7 p.m. The tree lighting will commence. There are also plenty of things for children, such as Santa’s Mailbox, cookie decorating and craft workshops.

Healdsburg — The Merry Healdsburg festivities will take place downtown at Healdsburg Plaza on Dec. 2. A tree lighting ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. Followed by free photos with Santa. There will also be free carriage rides sponsored by Kiwanis and free hot chocolate. Live music will include the Healdsburg Chorus and Rocio La Dama de La Cumbia y Su Sonora.

Guerneville — The Parade of Lights starts after dark on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. on Main Street, with this year’s theme being “A Very Fairy Christmas.” This parade is known for its campy, offbeat fun.

Calistoga — Dubbed the “ultimate small town holiday celebration,” Calistoga’s Lighted Tractor Parade is definitely unique. Modern, vintage, and antique tractors will be bedecked with lights along with other construction equipment. The parade takes place from 7 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 3.

Benicia — If you are looking for charming small-town Christmas parade, look no further than Benicia’s annual event. This year it takes place on Dec. 10 and runs down First Street. The show starts at 10 a.m. and residents generally save their spots overnight, though there’s always room for more. The parade is followed by a holiday market.

Visitors will find trucks, tractors and all manner of construction vehicles decked out for the holidays at Calistoga’s Lighted Tractor Parade. (Photo courtesy of Visit Calisota)

Vallejo — The city’s annual Mad Hatter Holiday Parade and Festival is not to be missed. It’s weird and wonderful, with motorized contraptions from Obtainium Works, steampunk revelers, traditional holiday nods and more. The whole thing starts at 2 p.m. in Unity Plaza near the library on Santa Clara Street with dancing horses, crafts for kids, children’s rides, and food. The parade begins on Georgia Street at 4:30 p.m. With a tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. at the library on Santa Clara Street. A lighted boat parade begins at 6:30 p.m. at the marina.

Sausalito — The Lighted Boat Parade and Fireworks celebration will kick off on Dec. 10 at 6 p.m., rain or shine, along the Sausalito waterfront.

Mill Valley — Winterfest is back. Featuring live entertainment, a giant slide, tons of children’s activities and great food, the event culminates in the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. It takes place on Dec. 4 from noon to 5 p.m. in Mill Valley’s Downtown Plaza.

St. Helena — Santa himself will make an appearance downtown on Dec. 9 from 3 to 6 p.m. There will be photo opportunities, music and food vendors.

Napa — The city’s Christmas Parade will take place on Dec. 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Napa. This year’s theme celebrates 175 years of Christmas in Napa.

Yountville — How about a Latke Throw Down? Bardessono is hosting its second-annual throwdown at the Yountville Community Center, complete with a latke making competition. Tickets are $10 but guests will be able to watch the competition and even taste the entries. The event takes place on Dec. 15 from 5 to 6 p.m. At 6516 Washington St. Interested parties are encouraged to email their RSVP.

American Canyon — It’s time for the Magic of the Season Lighted Parade and Tree Lighting. In addition to the parade there will be food vendors and a holiday gift marketplace. The event takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 3. in Shenandoah Park, 100 Sonoma Creek Way.

South Bay

San Jose — Christmas in the Park takes place in the heart of downtown San Jose at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez. This free event has been going on for 40 years and offers musical and animated exhibits, glittering lights and a 50-foot tall Christmas tree. School and community groups along with businesses decorate an “enchanted forest of trees” and vendors are on hand if you get hungry. This event runs through Jan. 1.

Foster City — Holiday music, light refreshments and Santa are all a part of this year’s Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the recreation center at 650 Shell Blvd.

Burlingame — A Holiday Tree Lighting will take place at City Hall on Dec. 2 and a festive Hanukkah event featuring a huge Lego menorah will kick off on Dec. 18. There will also be latkes and donuts, arts and crafts, and selfies with a dreidel mascot. It’s free but you need RSVP for the address to

Colma — Get ready for the Holiday Tree Lighting on Dec. 1 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Tall Hall Plaza on El Camino Real. Santa will be there with hot cocoa and treats.

Santa visits are just one of the attractions at Redwood City’s Hometown Holidays celebration happening Dec. 10. (Photo courtesy of Redwood City Downtown)

Half Moon Bay — There are three upcoming Nights of Lights holiday events in Half Moon Bay in December, beginning with a lighted parade on Dec. 2 at 6:15 p.m. There’s also a Kid’s Zone and Santa will be there to sign autographs at Dutra Park after the parade. An Ugly Sweater Party rears its head on Dec. 9 and there will be a contest for most atrocious. Finally, the movie Elf will be shown on Dec. 16 in the Cunha’s Country Store parking lot. All events take place in and around Main Street.

Pacifica — The 2022 Rockaway Tree Lighting Festival is back this year on Dec. 4 from 4 to 7 p.m. Kids activities, food vendors and food trucks, “snow” flurries, pony rides, live music and Santa, of course. The party takes place on Rockaway Beach, Dondee Way.

Redwood City — There’s a holiday parade but the 16th annual Hometown Holidays event is really an extravaganza, with pictures with Santa, live entertainment; food, beer and wine vendors, and the parade at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 in Courthouse Square. The 13th Annual Chanukah Festival will also take place on Dec. 18 from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. at Courthouse Square. Music, menorah lighting, latkes and donuts, moon bouncies and holiday crafts will all be had. Organizers are also touting the “first ever” graffiti menorah in Northern California.