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Illuminate SF™ establishes S.F. as a leader in light art

San Francisco Travel program, Illuminate SF™, doubles in scope to include 16 dramatic light art installations with a dedicated website designed to help navigate the citywide celebration


Now through January 2015, art and culture lovers are invited to “embrace the power of light” and experience neighborhood art tours, illuminated walks, artist talks and other special events based on 16 free public light art installations that transform San Francisco nights into a citywide gallery of light. As the days grow shorter, the opportunity to experience these light art installations grows longer. 

“We are thrilled to present Illuminate SF for the second year in a row. As a center for technology, innovation and creativity, San Francisco is so perfectly poised to be a leader in illuminated art. This opportunity for residents and visitors from all over the world to enjoy and experience these works of art for free throughout the holidays and celebrate the power of light is something that should not be missed,” says Joe D’Alessandro, President and CEO of San Francisco Travel.  

Designed to celebrate the Bay Area’s culture of creativity and invention, the second annual Illuminate SF Light Art Festival shines a light on 11 permanent and five temporary eco-friendly light art works that are free and accessible by public transport and - more than double the number of the inaugural celebration in 2013. At a time of year when holiday lights are prevalent, Illuminate SF provides a non-religious celebration of the inspiration and innovation of light artists in the Bay Area.  

Some installations are larger than life, like The Bay Lights and Bayview Rise. Others offer a more intimate human-scaled experience, like Three Gems and “… and my room still rocks like a boat on the sea” (Caruso’s Dream). Created by renowned light artists including Jim Campbell, Ned Kahn, James Turrell and Leo Villareal, the installations are a tribute to the power of inspired collaborations that span disciplines, media and all expectations. Each showcases energy and light media, and promises to be grand in scope and creative in nature.

The works pop to life at dusk and throughout each evening with a luminescence that can be easily appreciated along the San Francisco waterfront and in North Beach, Civic Center and SOMA, the University of California, San Francisco (Parnassus Campus), Golden Gate Park and at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

To make navigating the installations and artworks easy and accessible San Francisco Travel partnered with to develop a special website for Illuminate SF with maps, tours, artist information, best viewing access and more. Discovery Street Tours is also organizing special walking and bicycle tours of the works in each neighborhood with artist talks and more, which are free of charge. 

Walking tours and other light art-related events include:

  • Friday, Nov. 28, 6–9 p.m. -- Final Friday Nights at the de Young, featuring docent tours of James Turrell’s Three Gems.  
  • Wednesday, Dec. 3, 6–8 p.m. -- Illuminate SF walking tour by Discovery Street Tours: Civic Center and SOMA featuring the artworks Firefly by Ned Kahn, “and my room still rocked like a boat on the sea” (Caruso’s Dream) by Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn, and Skygarden by James Turrell. 
  • Thursday, Dec. 4, 6–8 p.m. -- Second Annual IlluminArts Walk by Discovery Street Tours, co-hosted by Black Rock Arts Foundation, Illuminate the Arts and the Exploratorium: Participants walk from North Beach to the Embarcadero and experience Language of the Birds by Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn, The Bay Lights by Leo Villareal, Metamorphosis by David Delgado, Dan Goods and Jason Klimoski, and Soma by the Flaming Lotus Girls. 
  • Thursday, Dec. 11, 6–8 p.m. -- Illuminate SF walking tour by Discovery Street Tours: Bayview featuring the work Bayview Rise by Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan and other art sites.  
  • Saturday, Dec. 20–Tuesday, Dec. 23 -- Illuminate SF: SOMA in conjunction with Gray Area Foundation for the Arts and the SFMOMA MuseumStore. 
  •  Saturday, Dec. 27 -- “Illuminate Your Ride” bike tour highlighting multiple artworks by Discovery Street Tours. More details to come. 

Illuminate SFis presented by the San Francisco Travel Association in collaboration with local civic, arts and cultural partners. Designed to celebrate the Bay Area’s creativity, innovation and invention, the light art festival features luminous public art installations created by a diverse range of renowned artists, and includes an online guide to light-filled evening events, art walks, illuminated bike rides and self-guided tours. 

Tour maps, more about the artworks and artists, and information on events and partners are available at

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official tourism marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit or call 415-391-2000.  The Visitor Information Center is located at 900 Market St. in Hallidie Plaza, lower level, near the Powell Street cable car turnaround. 

Storied is a soon-to-launch publishing system making it easy to create dynamic experiences that play on mobile devices. For more information, contact:

Discovery Street Tours offers "adventurous strolls for inquisitive souls," exploring the intersections of science, art, and culture in San Francisco. During the holiday season, Discovery Street brings on the popular "Science of (Holiday) Light" tour, which delves into the science of light, vision, and color. Year-round, Discovery Street presents private group tours investigating the local geology, food science, the history of invention and more. For information on tours available, visit or call Robin Marks at 415-663-6768.