Light art is an integral part of San Francisco. This year, we're shining brighter with new additions along with the old favorites you love.

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April 1, 2019

Why San Francisco is an Awesome City for Light Art

You may not be familiar with light art, but San Francisco aims to change that. It’s an original art form that exploits light, colors and shadows. San Francisco is proudly represented by the now permanent, 1.8 miles of LED lights that span the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Treasure Island. The Bay Lights aside, San Francisco also has one of the most extensive collections of permanent light art in the country. Known for innovation and technology, along with a staunch commitment to public art, light art in the center of a tech town makes a whole lot of sense.

Experience Illuminate SF Festival of Light, Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day

Winter nights are long, giving residents and visitors a perfect opportunity to explore this dramatic blend of technology and art. If you haven’t seen light art before, this is the perfect opportunity. You’ll be fascinated by art that is poetry in motion.

San Francisco celebrates this unique art form with an annual festival that runs from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day and shines a light on dozens of dramatic, eco-friendly light art installations as soon as the sun goes down. Since most installations are free for everyone to see, you can bring the entire family along.

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s new for 2018.


"SQUARED" is a 50-foot-tall-tree "reimagined in a futuristic world, post-nature," according to the artist Charles Gadeken. Each cube holds 12-24 individual LEDs, performing a light show in an almost infinite array of color patterns. A pre-set program directs waves of colors and patterns that create an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of light. It also has an interactive mode to allow visitors to play with the artwork.


Bask in the mesmerizing gleams of special installations and kinetic sculptures and show your sparkle with scintillating activities at the Exploratorium's "After Dark: Glow," taking place Dec. 6, 2018, 6 p.m.-10 p.m.

"Day for Night"

At the top of Salesforce Tower, San Francisco's tallest building, you'll find "Day for Night," a massive and incredibly versatile light art installation by Jim Campbell. The top of the tower has been sheathed in 11,000 lights and video screens that allow scenes of daily life to be displayed all night long.

"Night Bloom"

Light up the season with Night Bloom, a five-week light and sound exhibition. Light and sound will transform the iconic San Francisco landmark into a glowing landscape of interactive experiences this holiday season. Guests are invited to embark on a light-infused journey through the tropics where cotton candy sunsets abound, rare and unusual flowers blossom in the moonlight, and fireflies come out to play.

"Point Cloud"

Leo Villarreal's latest installation lights up the pedestrian bridge that connects the two sides of Moscone Center. The roof of this 100-foot bridge contains an impressive 28,288 LED bulbs that are individually programmed to change colors 30 times per second. Passersby on Howard Street are in for a real treat, no matter what time of day.

Make Plans to Attend the Illuminate San Francisco Festival of Light

For more information on the Festival and installations viewable all year long, visit While you’re there, don’t forget to join the mailing list for updated information about this year’s event.

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