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What to Do in San Francisco This November: Illuminate SF & Union Square Ice Rink

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The best of what to do in and around San Francisco this month.

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Feel the holiday spirit in Union Square, where the seasonal outdoor ice rink is open once again. Plus, take advantage of the city’s mild winters by participating in a run across the Golden Gate Bridge or wandering among Illuminate SF’s dazzling outdoor public art displays.

AFAR Local is our monthly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.

November 1 - 18 | Performing arts
Bindlestiff Studio, the country’s first showcase center for Filipino and Filipino-American artists, plays host to Mumu, an intimate theater performance. “Mumu” means ghost in Tagalog, and the show earns this name through an exploration of the experience and memories of a young Filipino immigrant who lands in San Francisco in the late 1970s. It arrives when the city has just designated a new cultural district to celebrate this community. The shows are intimate, with just 40 tickets available for each performance.
Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St., San Francisco | From $40 | website

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November 1 - December 31 | Outdoor event
Union Square Ice Rink
While San Francisco doesn’t get snow—or even much ice—during the year-end holiday season, a trip to the pop-up Union Square Ice Rink is an annual local tradition. The rink is also available to rent for private parties during this period if you’ve got something you want to celebrate in a special way.
10:00 AM - 11:30 PM | Union Square Park, 333 Post St., San Francisco | From $18 | website

November 5 | Outdoor event
SoFi Golden Gate Half Marathon & 5K 2017
On its own, running across the Golden Gate Bridge might be enough excitement for some of the people who participate in the annual Golden Gate Half Marathon & 5K. But this year, there’s a strong incentive for the rest of us: The first 500 people who sign up for either race will also be registered to party at the first-ever Finish Line Wine Festival, which will serve wines from Napa and Sonoma counties. Bottoms up!
7:00 AM - 11:00 AM | 890 Beach St., San Francisco | From $50 | website

November 10 | Music
Honey Soundsystem 10-Year Anniversary Rave
There aren’t many parties in San Francisco where you can start at 6 p.m. and have both permission and solid reasons to dance until 4 a.m., but the Honey Soundsystem 10-Year Anniversary Rave might be the one occasion of the year to do just that. There will be a huge lineup of both live performances and DJ sets that will be announced close to the day, including a special secret guest who is coming in from overseas to mark this epic anniversary in a fickle clubland.
6:00 PM - 4:00 AM | Public Works, 161 Erie St., San Francisco | From $15 | website

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November 10 - 12 | Film
San Francisco Transgender Film Festival
For 20 years and counting, the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival has loudly celebrated the work of a visual arts community that’s marginalized even in the LGBTQ-friendly city. Expected highlights from this year’s program of documentaries and shorts include Macy Gray’s new body positive video “Stop Drop Roll,” queer musical The Goldfish Casino, and The Whistle, a documentary in progress about a Latinx trans man’s return to his birthplace of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Roxie Theatre, 3125 16th St., San Francisco | From $12 | website

Union Square Ice Rink

November 11 - 12 | Art
Renegade Craft Fair
If you’re the type of holiday gift giver who loves to get people something unique to their personality and take care of lots of these people in one outing, the Renegade Craft Fair at Fort Mason is an essential stop. The fair’s sheer size can be overwhelming for a newbie, but don’t be intimidated as you’ll soon find that it’s really a playground for creativity. No one will blame you if you find a little something for yourself while you’re there, too.
11:00 AM - 6:00 PM | Fort Mason Center, Festival Pavilion, 2 Marina Blvd., San Francisco | Free | website

November 12 | Drink
San Francisco International Tea Festival
Why should wine drinkers have all the fun? Tea connoisseurs have their own party in the San Francisco International Tea Festival, which functions similarly to a wine tasting; bring your own teacup around to try different brews from local and international purveyors. You’ll also conveniently be in the food hall–like Ferry Building, home to numerous sweets and snacks that pair excellently with a nice cup of tea.
11:00 AM - 5:00 PM | Ferry Building Marketplace, One Ferry Building, San | From $25 | website

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November 17 - 19 | Dance
San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest
Reaffirming the cultural heart of the city is the San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest, which attracts dancers from around the world to perform every year. This 19th year of celebration features two program choices over three days, including one that features a kids’ freestyle dance circle after the show. Participants come from as far as Mexico City, Singapore, and Barcelona. Both programs include the option of master classes for people who want to do more than just watch.
Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon St., San Francisco | From $40 | website

November 23 - January 1 | Art
Illuminate SF
San Francisco has a new tradition in Illuminate SF, a citywide art festival of lights that kicks off annually on Thanksgiving day. This is your chance to make a night out of hopping to different free public installations and experiences, or just take in one of the free guided tours, all right up until New Year’s Day. Additional light-related events are still to be announced, which will increase the many ways you can let lots of light into your life.
Times and locations vary | Free | website

December 10 | Plan ahead: Outdoor event
The Great Santa Run San Francisco
Think of this as the healthy antithesis to the annual drunken SantaCon bar-hopping party in San Francisco. Besides starting to getting yourself fit to participate in either the Great Santa Run 5K or the Rudolph one-miler, you’ll want to register for The Great Santa Run San Francisco to take advantage of early bird prices, which go up at the end of November.
8:30 AM | Crissy Field, San Francisco | From $45 | website

Tamara Palmer is a daily news writer, rapper confidante, DJ, and celebrity chef ghostwriter from San Francisco.

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