SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The first-ever “holiday village” in San Francisco’s Union Square is opening this Black Friday, Nov. 25, according to a press release.

Winter Wanderland’s Holiday Village at Hallidie Plaza (at Market and Powell streets) will open at noon that day, with a kick-off ceremony at 4 p.m. It will remain open through Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24.

“Winter Wanderland will transform Hallidie Plaza into a festive holiday village,” stated Marisa Rodriguez, the executive director of the Union Square Alliance, in a press release announcing the venture. “Local, handmade gifts, holiday tree decorations, snow flurries, sweets, and warming drinks enhance the space, along with live family-friendly entertainment like magicians and carolers, and a larger-than-life Snow Globe photo opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy.”

The press release stated that after years of COVID-19 restrictions, it is hoped that “new visitors and Bay Area natives” alike will make the trek to check out the holiday village and also nearby restaurants, cocktail lounges, galleries, theaters and stores.

Already, Mayor London Breed has announced measures to try and protect holiday shoppers downtown, as KRON4 previously reported, including ramping up the police presence.

“The more, the merrier is more than a cliché; it’s a proven activation strategy,” Rodriguez stated. “The activation of public spaces is one of the best ways to restore and reimagine the heart of San Francisco. This is a part of our strategic plan to revitalize the downtown core.”

Events and attractions in the Union Square area include:

  • The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink
  • Macy’s Great Tree
  • the Bill Graham Menorah
  • the SPCA Holiday Windows, which will bring animals for adoption to the area

“We are thrilled to bring live animals back to Macy’s Union Square for the 36th annual Holiday Windows,” stated Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, the CEO of the San Francisco SPCA. “This favorite tradition not only brings joy to holiday shoppers, but more importantly, it has helped more than 10,000 animals find loving homes. This ongoing partnership with Macy’s and their $5,000 donation will help to save lives year-round.”

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The ice rink is one of the most celebrated traditions in Union Square.

“Ice skating is a celebrated holiday tradition in Union Square,” stated Willy Bietak of Willy Bietak Productions, the owner of the ice rink and a collaborator with the holiday village project. “We are so thrilled to be back on the ice for our fifteenth season. In collaboration with the alliance, we are looking forward to making the combination of the rink and the holiday village a captivating annual event.”  

People can find out more at the Winter Wanderland website.