Every winter San Franciscans await the return of countless sparkling holiday light displays, and we may find a new one in our midst next year. The Gardens of Golden Gate Park just unveiled a new plan for expansive light installations to bring more visitation to the Gardens during the winter.
The idea primarily involves decking out SF Botanical Garden with unique and high-quality lights to illuminate the plants and landscape, although they welcome inclusion of the Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers as well. If all goes to plan, the installations will go up from mid-November 2024 through early January 2025.
The Gardens have requested that potential contract partners submit their proposals for “an iconic garden experience and memorable winter destination.” They elaborate that the ideal plan will have minimal impact on the plants and trees that inhabit the gardens, and they hope to showcase contemporary light artists in special exhibits. Anticipated ticket prices would be between $28-40 per person. You can read the full Request for Proposal (RPF) here.
“We hope to create a magical atmosphere that will captivate visitors of all ages and invite visitors to explore the beauty of the Gardens during special evening hours,” wrote SF Botanical Garden on their social channels.
SF Botanical Garden’s announcement of the plan on Facebook and Instagram was met with some mixed reactions. Most commenters were excited at the prospect of another winter display to look forward to, but others raised concerns about how the displays might affect birds and insects that call the gardens home. Similar issues arose when the SkyStar wheel was installed at Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse, although there’s been recent talk of relocating it to Fisherman’s Wharf. The RPF does not make specific mention of the parks’ animals, but there is a clause requiring compliance with “all present and future Environmental laws.”
Winter light displays are often huge draws for garden attractions whose spring and summer flowers lie dormant during this time. Some local such attractions include Filoli Estate & Gardens in Woodside, whose popular Holidays at Filoli event kicks off on Nov. 18; and the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, whose dazzling Garden of D’Lights installation begins on Nov. 24. Golden Gate Park itself usually has a fair share of displays including Entwined at Peacock Meadow and Uncle John’s Tree at the park’s eastern entrance, among others.
The Gardens’ plan is still early days, but the tentative schedule shows partner selection by the end of November 2023 and a final design solidified by March 2024. Stay tuned as we learn more about how the plan progresses.