Third Annual Illuminate SF Festival

Third Annual Illuminate SF Festival of Light Celebrates San Francisco’s Expanding Light Art Scene

36 Days of Experiences, 27 Dramatic Light Art Installations, 12 Neighborhoods, Five Free Light Art Tours

November 23, 2015- During the third annual Illuminate SF Festival of Light, from Thanksgiving 2015 through New Year’s Day 2016, art lovers can embrace the power of light and tour San Francisco’s public art installations by a diverse range of local and world renowned light artists.  A series of five free tours are scheduled throughout the 36-days of experiences.


The 2015 Illuminate SF Festival of Light celebrates 27 dramatic, eco-friendly light art installations accessible by public transport and free for all ages. Held during the longest nights of the year, Illuminate SF Festival of Light features free guided nighttime neighborhood walks and artist talks.

The works come to life at dusk throughout 12 San Francisco neighborhoods with a luminescence that will turn any evening into an illuminating adventure, especially when combined with exploring San Francisco’s world-class restaurants, clubs and cultural events in neighborhoods along the waterfront, in North Beach, Civic Center, Central Market, the Inner Sunset, SoMa, Potrero, Mission Bay, Bayview, Golden Gate Park, the Mission District and even flying in or out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

Flaming Lotus Girls_Soma

Five free tours lead by Robin Marks of Discovery Street Tours (including one by bicycle) are the centerpiece of the festival.  The itineraries include dramatic light art works and exclusive access to artists, locations and experiences.

  • North Beach and Embarcadero Light Art Tour – 3, 2015, 6 p.m. at Jack Kerouac Alley near Columbus Avenue. This motorized cable car and walking tour includes; Language of the Birds with artists Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn, the brilliant and interactive sculpture Soma by artists the Flaming Lotus Girls and participants will witness the live testing of The Bay Lights by artist Leo Villareal as he finesses the installation from a remote location in anticipation of the Grand Relighting on Jan. 30, 2016. Tours end with an optional visit to the Exploratorium’s After Dark: Glow event.
  • Central Market and Civic Center Light Art Tour – 10, 2015, 6 p.m. at the Federal Building, 90 Seventh St.

This Cable Car and walking tour includes, Skygarden by renowned artist James Turrell, Constellation by Nayland W. Blake, at the San Francisco Public Library, “… and my room still rocks like a boat on the sea” (Caruso’s Dream) with one of the artists, Brian Goggin, and Eric Staller with his Lightmobile, a Volkswagen Beetle lit with 1,659 lamps.

  • Dogpatch and Bayview Light Art Tour – 11, 2015, 5:30 p.m. at Museum of Craft and Design, 2569 Third St. This motorized cable car and walking tour includes the Museum of Craft and Design and other surprise stops, plus Bayview Rise by artist team Haddad-Drugan with Port of San Francisco’s David Beaupre demonstrating how the imagery appears animated due to the programmed illumination of the mural’s different colors.
  • Yerba Buena Museums Light Art Tour – 17, 2015, 6 p.m. at California Historical Society, 678 Mission St. This walking tour includes Elise Baldwin’s projected-light installation Field of Vision, PaRDes and the Lamp of the Covenant at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, plus Lightswarm and Murmur Wall, two temporary installations by Future Cities Lab commissioned by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
  • Illuminate Your Ride Light Art Bike Tour – 20, 2015, 6 p.m. at Cupid’s Span in Rincon Park, Embarcadero.

Take a fun and easy illuminated bike ride on a mostly flat, four to five mile route beginning at the bow-and-arrow sculpture Cupid’s Span by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.  The route passes holiday light and light art works including Soma, Language of the Birds, Skygarden, “…and my room still rocks like a boat on the sea” (Caruso’s Dream), Murmur Wall, Lightswarm, Yud and PaRDes with brief stops for socializing along the way.

David Delgado Dan Goods Jason Klimoski_Metamorphosis

Reservations are required and last year’s tours filled quickly.  Visit for full tour details and to sign up.

Light lovers may explore on their own using four Self Guided Itineraries which highlight Yerba Buena/SOMA, Central Market and Civic Center, North Beach and the Embarcadero, Dogpatch and Bayview and together feature nearly 20 light art installations.

Experience Illuminating Events including the Parol Lantern Festival and Parade, Nutcracker Under the Dome at Westfield San Francisco Center, Snowflakes on Market Street from First to Ninth streets, Union Street Fantasy of Lights, and many others.

Visitors may experience Museum and Galleries with two exciting exhibits featuring light art or technology.  NEAT: New Experiments in Art and Technology features a diversity of works by nine Bay Area artists and is on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum through Jan. 17, 2016. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) is host to two temporary installations, Murmur Wall and Lightswarm.  And, the newly restored Three Gems, by artist James Turrell, remains a not-to-be-missed installation tucked away within the Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden of the de Young Museum.


As the home of Burning Man, there will be no shortage of other Brilliant Ideas evidenced by projects such as Light Up Central Market at Market and Turk streets between Fifth and Seventh, and David Best’s The Temple, temporarily on view in at Patricia’s Green at Octavia St. near Linden. The Ferry Building features special event lighting celebrating the centennial of the 1915 Pan Pacific International Exposition and the new Traffic Control Tower at San Francisco International Airport features a vertical ribbon of glowing glass.

Illuminate SF and Illuminate SF Festival of Light are presented by the San Francisco Travel Association in collaboration with local civic, arts and cultural partners.  The website, created in partnership with, is a year-round resource with photographs, videos, art maps, events listings, artist information, best viewing tips and more to make artworks easy and accessible.