Illuminate SF shines a light on San Francisco’s glowing artworks

The Illuminate SF Light Art Festival returns this month with 16 sculptures around San Francisco that glow with extraordinary energy.

The fest, now in its second year, showcases public artworks installed around the city as well as temporary pieces recently put up. And it’s all free.

“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,” Joe D’Alessandro, chief executive of San Francisco Travel, says in a statement.

If you’ve been to the Bay Area recently, chances are you’ve seen some of these light works already; many are installed at terminals at San Francisco International Airport.


But here’s a chance to check off a mini-bucket list of these art pieces.

“The Bay Lights,” by Leo Villareal -- the LED lights that dance along the western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge -- is one of the stars for Illuminate SF. (There’s a crowd-funding effort called “Keep ‘Em Lit Through 2026" to make this a more permanent feature in the city.)

It debuted last year and is the largest LED light sculpture in the world. Lesser well known is the Bayview Rise, a dazzling light mural on the side of grain silos at Pier 92 at the Port of San Francisco.

“Metamorphosis” at the Exploratorium on Pier 15 through Jan. 4 creates a 12-foot globe of light and mist meant to convey the comet 67P where the Rosetta mission made its historic landing (at least once).


The sculpture was developed by Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists who wanted to show people what comets are all about.

Other light fest activities include guided walking tours on Dec. 4 and 11 and an Illuminate Your Ride Bike Tour on Dec. 27.

Info: Illuminate SF

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