san fran 1Photos: San Francisco Travel

San Francisco is a holiday destination that is literally glowing with displays, decorations and tree-lighting events. Here’s a roundup of 10 great lightings and displays in the city by the bay...

1. The Ritz-Carlton Holiday Tree
The hotel’s 40-foot holiday tree was illuminated by Santa Claus and his little helper from the Make-A-Wish Foundation as part of The Ritz-Carlton Community Footprints program earlier this month.

2. The Palace Hotel’s Gingerbread Chateau

Designed by executive pastry Chef Renee Cade, the Palace Hotels’ Gingerbread Chateau measures 2.4 metres by 4.8 metres. The three-room chateau features a hand-tied, licorice thatched roof, and in the marzipan-made kitchen, apple elves prepare a holiday feast. The kitchen table is laden with delights made entirely out of edible ingredients and the foyer is adorned with a crystallized sugar chandelier. The animated living room scene showcases a sugar and spice decorated tree, while outside, the chateau is landscaped with candied planter boxes filled with cookie crumb soil and fondant flowers. A moving wafer waterwheel and chocolate pond complete the French-style county holiday garden.    In the true holiday spirit of giving, the Palace Hotel is supporting SFCASA, a non-profit organization that focuses on volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children. You can see the chateau until December 30.

3. Holiday Sugar Castle At Westin St Francis

The Westin St Francis executive pastry chef, Jean-François Houdré, has created his signature 3.6-metre rotating holiday sugar castle in the main lobby of the hotel. Resembling a French chateau, the castle features 20 grand circular towers, 30 rooms, glowing windows and a running train. New this year is the addition of the top 2012 “newsmakers” on display throughout the castle, including life-like elf replicas of politicians, celebrities, athletes and personalities. See it until January 2.

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4. ’Tis the Season For Science

The California Academy of Science is getting a winter makeover for the holidays. The popular ’Tis the Season for Science exhibit is returning for a third year, bringing with it the sights, sounds and smells of the season. Experience indoor snow flurries, get up close and personal with live reindeer at the East Garden and immerse yourself in a snow-themed mini-dome show. The exhibit runs until January 5.

5. Luxury Collection Holiday Tree

This year the Palace Hotel is presenting its first ever Luxury Collection holiday tree, inspired by more than 80 unique Luxury Collection hotel destinations worldwide. The ornaments adorning the tree are indigenous to each property. See it until December 26.

6. Annual Victorian Holiday Time

Each year the fabulous Queen Anne dresses up the interior of the hotel in grand Victorian style. It really is a sight to behold, with Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands and a winter wonderland. Take a step back in time and see how warmth and charm were created more than a century ago until January 1.

7. Hyatt Regency San Francisco's ‘Home for the Holidays’

Although it never snows in San Francisco, the Hyatt Regency San Francisco is predicting snowfall throughout the holiday season in its dramatic, Guinness Book of World Records’ Largest Atrium Lobby in the world. Complementing a 1,000-piece Department 56 Snow Village, snow will fall three times a day in the hotel's lobby until December 30.

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