Illuminate SF on the Embarcadero | San Francisco Travel
Buckyball glows in the foreground while Coit Tower shines in the distance.
Buckyball, a 25-foot illuminated sculpture, glows with Coit Tower in the backgro Credit: @perplexion

Illuminate SF
See Stunning Light Art on the Embarcadero

Walk along San Francisco's waterfront for an eye-popping light art excursion.


Walter Hood, 2023

Fire Station #35, 399 The Embarcadero

Located at Fire Station #35, Bow is an homage to the fireboats and their role in the cultural history of San Francisco and the Bay, especially during and the Loma Prieta earthquake. Bow takes shape as both a viewing platform and a creative sculpture, with a series of glass panels collaged with historic images and quotations to illuminate the cultural importance of Fire Station #35. The artwork, suggesting the bow of a boat, is made of wood, painted steel, aluminum, and glass and is partially enclosed by translucent panels.

The historic photos printed onto the artwork’s glass panels were selected by the artist in close partnership with the San Francisco Fire Department to honor the important history of the fireboats and their heroic role in significant events along the City’s waterfront.

GLOW: Discover the Art of Light


Embarcadero: Exploratorium, Pier 15 

Turn up the radiance this winter! Six artists illuminate Pier 15 with light sculptures big and small, inviting you to connect and get inspired in their glow. Explore the galleries for captivating new light art by Anila Quayyum Agha, Craig Newswanger, and Sally Weber, as well as returning favorites by Luke Jerram and Burt Libe. In Bechtel Gallery 3, splash in waves of light with The Last Ocean, Jen Lewin's monumental, luminescent landscape created from recycled ocean plastics. Experiment with color, shadows, and more in the Seeing and Reflections gallery.

Best Viewing: Nov. 17, 2022 - Jan. 29, 2023 at The Exploratorium


Leo Villareal, 2012

Pier 15 at Mission Street

Experience “Buckyball” by Leo Villareal, a towering 25-foot illuminated sculpture that enlivens the Exploratorium's public space in both daylight and moonlight. Inspired by futurist and inventor Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome, the spherical, soccer ball-like form features two nested geodesic spheres comprised of 4,500 LED nodes arranged in a series of pentagons and hexagons. Scientists discovered the form in a carbon molecule in 1985 and coined it the "Buckminsterfullerence," or "Buckyball.” The piece’s light sequences are driven by chance, and can glow with more than 16 million distinct colors to create exuberant, random compositions of varied speed, color, opacity, and scale.

Best Viewing: The Plaza at Pier 15 in front of the Exploratorium offers free public access.

Let's Glow SF

Various artists

Multiple locations

Let’s Glow SF uses high-tech Panasonic projectors and lasers to project large-scale art concepts across the facade of five iconic San Francisco buildings from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly, beginning Dec. 1.

Let’s Glow SF's 2023 locations include the Ferry Building, the Hobart Building (582 Market Street), One Bush Street, the Pacific Stock Exchange (301 Pine Street), and the Landing at Leidesdorff (565 Commercial Street). Each building’s video projection—using light, colors, and music—will tell an enchanting story that celebrates the holiday season.

Let’s Glow SF is produced and funded by the Downtown SF Partnership with A3 Visual.

The Hobart Building is lit up for Let's Glow SF.