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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October 4, 2019
Photo credit: by Ethan Kaplan Photography

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 2019.


"W.F.T." is an installation that presents the etymology of "civic" and "auditiorium", in light of the building it lives on, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Joseph Kosuth's artwork represents the historical significance of the Auditorium while demonstrating how the meanings of words are all interconnected to cultural and social realities.

"Tara Mechani"

Bask in this mesmerizing 17-foot-high sculpture that combines the ancient female Buddha, Tara, with characteristics of a future female robot. Dana Albany's sculpture is comprised of 80% recycled materials, including machine parts, hardware, chandeliers, and repurposed brass light fixtures. See Tara Mechani at Patricia's Green in Hayes Valley.


At SFO Airport's Long-Term Parking Garage, you can see their newest light art installation that has transformed the parking structure's elevator tower into a dynamic focal point. Luminous ceilings and undercarriages change colors over 24 hours, making elevator rides an entire experience. "Coding" by Johanna Grawunder can be seen day and night.


Light up the season with "Kaleidoscope", a temporary interactive installation created by Karina Smigla-Bobinski that manipulates layers of ink. When the surface of the work is pushed and pressed, an infinite array of colors are revealed. See "Kaleidoscope" at the Exploratorium, Dec. 6, 2019 - Jan. 20, 2020.

"Grace Light"

George Zisiadis's latest installation lights up the famed labyrinth inside Grace Cathedral. Visitors can lie down within the labyrinth or stand outside the light curtains for a 15-minute experience of synchronized light and sound. Tickets are free with advance registration. The public can view this installation beginning Oct. 21, 2019.

Make Plans to Attend the Illuminate San Francisco Festival of Light

For more information on the Festival and installations viewable all year long, visit

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