Yes, the sun sets earlier in the winter, but the silver lining is that there’s more time to enjoy San Francisco’s amazing displays of lights. From illuminated buildings to art installations and holiday celebrations, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the magic of the season’s longer nights. Metallic Tapestry Light Show at 690 Folsom This repurposed parking garage has been transformed by the addition of an illuminated metal skin, an LED-lit façade that resembles a spiderweb pulled tight around a box. The San Francisco-based office of Charles F. Bloszies FAIA designed the aluminum sheets that envelop the second story of the building and inserted two rows of LED lights between the original façade and the new screen. The lights change colors according to pre-programmed sequences. It’s not just fun to look at from outside either. Inside, you’ll find SPiN San Francisco, a ping pong-centric social club with two bars, a kitchen and 16 ping pong tables. There are lots of other interesting buildings to see at night. Read about other unique, illuminated buildings on our website. Holiday Lights Galore If you’re looking to make your holiday season merry and bright, there’s no better place than San Francisco. In November, the Macy’s Union Square Tree Lighting Ceremony sparkles with 33,000 LED lights and 1,100 shining ornaments on the city’s most iconic Christmas tree. Also in November, PIER 39 and special friends from the Disneyland Resort will welcome the season with the lighting of their 60-foot tree. The Ghirardelli Square Lighting Ceremony is a sweet chance to enjoy a 60-foot tree and live entertainment for an evening. Or, the Embarcadero Center Building Lighting Ceremony offers a winter carnival along with the illumination of four office towers. In December, the Union Street Fantasy of Lights mixes Christmas cheer and glistening Victorian houses. Check out the Bill Graham Menorah Lighting in Union Square, which is a local Hanukkah tradition that’s been going strong for more than 40 years now. San Francisco International Airport The illumination of exterior lighting at San Francisco International Airport has been a holiday tradition for more than 10 years. Featuring over 150 miles of wiring and more than 3.3 million LEDs, holiday lighting at SFO is one of the largest public displays of lights in the entire Bay Area. Illuminate SF Festival This seasonal celebration, which lasts from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, includes light art installations, guided tours and other special events that add up to weeks of perpetual wonderment. From Bayview to Golden Gate Park and SFO to the Embarcadero, there are dozens of installations throughout the city, ranging in size from park benches to the entire Bay Bridge! While not its only claim to fame, the new Salesforce Tower, which at 1,070 feet is the tallest building in San Francisco, will also be topped by what is being billed as the tallest public art installation in the U.S. — a nine-story electronic sculpture by San Francisco artist Jim Campbell. Find information about artists, events, self-guided tour maps and more at illuminatesf.com. Share photos of your favorite light displays with the hashtag #illuminatesf. The Bay Lights If it’s your first time visiting San Francisco, or it’s been a few years since your last visit, then you should plan to check out the 25,000 LED lights that cover the Bay Bridge Bridge because it’s pretty amazing. What started as a temporary installation by artist Leo Villareal (it was supposed to end in 2015) has become a permanent addition to the city’s nighttime skyline thanks to the popularity of the project.
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