SF Rec & Parks to Host Winter Lights in Golden Gate Park

Winter Lights Example

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department announced today a free special event, “Winter Lights in Golden Gate Park” that will take place on Thursday, December 7th, 2017.  The “Winter Lights in Golden Gate Park” event will begin with the City’s 88th Holiday Tree lighting tradition, and is scheduled to start at 4:00PM at John McLaren Lodge located at the east entrance of Golden Gate Park.  There will be many free activities including carnival rides, a cookie factory, arts and crafts for kids, a visit from Santa, music, and live entertainment.  Santa will arrive shortly before the official Tree Lighting ceremony currently scheduled to begin at 6:00PM.

The official City Tree will be adorned with more than 550 multi-colored lights and surrounded by a decorated train.  The Tree is a more than 100 year-old Monterrey Cypress planted by the City’s first park Superintendent, John McLaren.

For the first time, this event will culminate with a stunning new light art installation at the Conservatory of Flowers, scheduled to shine at 7:00PM.  The beloved landmark first became the canvas for Photosynthesis, an elegant public art installation honoring San Francisco’s citywide celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love.

Now, the Recreation and Park Department and Conservatory of Flowers will celebrate the natural wonders of Winter with “Photosynthesis: Love for All Seasons”, a new series of artistic illuminations on the Conservatory’s iconic façade.  This program completes a cycle, transforming the Conservatory into an elegant illuminated canvas of Fall, Winter and Spring scenes nightly from December through Spring, 2018.

Developed in partnership with San Francisco Recreation and Parks, the Conservatory and the San Francisco Parks Alliance, the light art installation, conceived by Ben Davis of Illuminate, the nonprofit arts group behind The Bay Lights, together with Obscura Digital, a world-renowned creative studio specializing in large scale light-based art, uses gobo projectors to transform the all-white landmark with a series of exquisite scenes inspired by the rare tropical flowers within and the magic of nature’s regenerative force.


About Conservatory of Flowers
The Conservatory of Flowers is a spectacular living museum of rare and beautiful tropical plants under glass. From Borneo to Bolivia, the 1,750 species of plants at the Conservatory represent unusual flora from more than 50 countries around the world. Immersive displays in five galleries include the lowland tropics, highland tropics, aquatic plants, potted plants, and special exhibits. Opened in 1879, the wood and glass greenhouse is the oldest existing wood and glass conservatory in North America and has attracted millions of visitors to Golden Gate Park since it first opened its doors. It is designated as a city, state and national historic landmark and was one of the 100 most endangered sites of the World Monuments Fund.


About San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (SF Rec & Parks)
SF Recreation and Park Department overseen by the Recreation and Park Commission stewards more than 4,000 acres of recreation and open space that includes more than 220 parks, playgrounds, and open spaces, in addition to Sharp Park and Camp Mather located outside the city limits.  The park system includes 25 recreation centers, 9 swimming pools, 5 golf courses, and numerous tennis courts, ball diamonds, soccer fields and other sports venues.  Includes in the Department’s responsibilities are iconic landmarks such as Coit Tower, Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Park, as well as the Marina Yacht Harbor, Lake Merced, and the San Francisco Zoo.  The Department’s mission is to provide enriching recreational activities, maintain beautiful parks, and preserve the environment for the well-being of the City’s diverse community.  More about SF Rec & Parks, please visit: https://sfrecpark.org/.

About San Francisco Parks Alliance

The mission of the San Francisco Parks Alliance (SFPA) is to inspire and promote civic engagement and philanthropy to protect, sustain, and enrich San Francisco parks, recreation, and green open spaces.

The Organization will be dedicated to fulfill a vision of parks that acknowledges and supports their critical environmental functions while striving to ensure that they are accessible, beautiful, safe, clean, and fun and managed in a manner that makes them accountable, open, and welcoming to all.

The San Francisco Parks Alliance’s goal is to ensure that stewardship, philanthropy, and policy are coordinated and leveraged for the best possible outcome for parks and park users. Through coalition-driven advocacy, the new organization, based on some of the best practices of both organizations and those around the country, can better ensure that the needs of parks and all park users are equitably met. Learn more: www.sfparksalliance.org.


About Illuminate
Illuminate’s flagship project is The Bay Lights by artist Leo Villareal.  The nonprofit arts group is currently leading the effort to honor Harvey Milk’s life and legacy and will be unveiling two new works of public art on November 8 in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. For more information about Illuminate, please visit: http://illuminate.org/.


About Obscura
Obscura is a creative studio in the heart of San Francisco’s Dogpatch district.  The firm creates one-of-a-kind immersive experiences that will change the way people think about the world around.  For more information about Obscura Digital, please visit: http://obscuradigital.com/.


The Technology Behind the Illumination
Gobo projectors, chosen for their ability to withstand the rigors of a long-term installation, are one of the oldest forms of projection — akin to creating shadow puppets on a cave wall — though today’s gobos use full color. They were in heavy use during the heyday of the light show in the 1960s.

Images are printed on 23mm glass gobo lenses, and a light is shone through them to “project” on the surface. Obscura Digital had to go to extraordinary lengths to compress the large-scale work that the studio normally does with the advantage of cutting edge technologies on to static lenses that are about the size of a quarter.

To that end, Obscura Digital has pushed gobos farther than ever before by applying video projection mapping techniques to the glass slides. The Conservatory building was laser scanned to create a 3D model, on which the studio used image warping and masking to conform the images to the details of the architectural geometry. The final image printed on the gobo takes those considerations into account.

Each of the ten projectors has six gobo slots, so there are six themes made up of ten images each. These are mixed with classic built-in gobo effects like focus shift, rotation, filters, and background colors, as well as six LED floodlights to illuminate the building with a color wash.



Communications Office
San Francisco Recreation and Park Department