See Golden Gate Park Illuminated With Stunning Holiday Lights In December

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

See Golden Gate Park Illuminated With Stunning Holiday Lights In December

Opening dates are now on the calendar for Golden Gate Park’s beloved holiday lights installations! Nearly a mile of car-free JFK Drive will be decked out in glittering lights, and an awesome lineup of special events will happen throughout the month.

Winter Lights is presented by SF Rec & Parks, the SF Parks Alliance, Illuminate, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the National AIDS Memorial Grove. Here are some awesome events and light exhibitions you don’t want to miss:

National AIDS Memorial Grove illumination

In honor of World AIDS Day, the 10-acre National AIDS Memorial Grove will be lit up for the first time ever on Wednesday, December 1 from 4:30-9pm. The free display of candles and lights will include artistic performances and more. There will be a ceremonial reading of names lost to AIDS at 5pm.

The Alterverse

The Music Concourse will be transformed into a celebration of poetry and light called the Alterverse, with an opening night celebration on Wednesday, December 1 from 4-7pm. See James Weldon Johnson’s words “Lift Every Voice” from the Black National Anthem illuminated and lifted onto the Bandshell, and learn from artist Dana King about Monumental Reckoning, her impactful nearby art installation. Scrolling poetry will be projected onto the de Young Museum, accompanied by live music and spoken word performances.

Photo by Jason Chinn, courtesy of SF Parks Alliance


Remember this breathtaking, luminous light installation that sprung up in Golden Gate Park’s Peacock Meadow last year? Well, Entwined is scheduled to return this year, and promises to be bigger and better than ever before! From December 2 (first lighting at 7pm) until February 1, we will once again enjoy a massive immersive meadow, this time with even more interactive elements. The whimsical installation transforms Peacock Meadow into an otherworldly ecosystem of glowing trees, bushes, and other natural elements created from colorful pixel-like LED lights. The trees ranch from 8-20 feet tall, accompanied by dozens of glowing flower clusters and bushes to create a beautiful meadow landscape.


Uncle John’s Tree

The holiday tree at McLaren Lodge will be illuminated in a lighting ceremony officiated by Mayor London Breed at 6pm on December 2, according to SF Rec & Parks (Illuminate lists the lighting ceremony from 4-5:30pm, so stay tuned as we confirm). There will be a post-tree lighting celebration with live music from the George Washington High School Choir, as well as carnival rides, food trucks, and live entertainment.

Other ongoing exhibitions

Golden Gate Park’s gorgeous light displays will take over the entire park! Essential stops include the Conservatory of Flowers‘ lighted façade, the 8th Avenue gateway to the Music Concourse,  the glowing SkyStar Wheel, and of course continuing free performances at the illuminated Bandshell. You can see a detailed schedule of upcoming events here.


Featured image: yhelfman via Shutterstock

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