Autumn Lights Festival Lights Up Lake Merritt
One-of-a-kind annual fundraiser to delight all ages October 17 – 19.
Illuminated art displays involving nearly 200 Bay Area artists will light up Lake Merritt as thousands of festival-goers immerse themselves in the magic of art, innovation, and horticulture at the 8th Annual Autumn Lights Festival. The mesmerizing, hand-crafted displays include:
- The world’s first fully interactive LED piano
- A fire-spewing snail car
- An exotic tiki village
- Giant inflatable sculptures known as “Astrobotanicals”
- Illuminated origami balloons and cranes
- Much,much more.
This one-of-a-kind fundraiser for the nonprofit Friends of the Gardens at Lake Merritt runs for three nights, October 17-19, 2019, from 6:00 to 11:00 pm in the City of Oakland’s lush ten-acre gardens nestled near the shores of Lake Merritt.
In addition to the spectacular art displays, the something-for-everyone festival features fire dancers from Ministry of Flow, live music, interactive kids’ area, art market, an eclectic food court with great eats from scores of popular local food trucks, and much more.
Autumn Lights Festival 2019 is presented by the all-volunteer Friends of the Gardens at Lake Merritt (FGLM) in association with the City of Oakland, Niantic, Inc., and the Oakland Athletics, with additional support from dozens of local businesses and organizations.
2019 Autumn Light Tickets:
$20 advance/$25 event day for adults
$7 advance/$10 event day for youth (ages 6-17)
Children ages 5 and younger enter for free
Eventbrite Advance Ticket Page
Parking is extremely limited. Festival attendees are encouraged to walk or bicycle in, or take BART to 19th Street station and walk to the gardens (15 minutes) or take a cab or ride share (Lyft, Uber, etc.). Another great option is to take AC Transit which stops at Grand & Bellevue – a short walk from the festival’s main entrance. For transit info: visit 511.org.
2019 Highlights in the Gardens:
The Golden State Bonsai Garden volunteers are once again going over the top for the Autumn Lights Festival! They’ll drape butterfly lights around and inside the falls, evoking our own program to protect Monarch butterflies from extinction. Inside the magical Bonsai Garden itself, we’ll see individually lighted bonsai trees, lighted Japanese lanterns, strings of lights in our landscape trees, and rope lighted pathways. It is a particular wonder to wander at sunset!
Deep in the Pollinator Garden, Artist Terry Smith will return with her installation in our pollinator habitat – huge silky models of our native pollinators and host plants with lots of info about these dwellers in our Garden – Monarchs, Swallowtails, bees – all the tiny and exquisite critters that make our world hum. Plus: models of the host plants for these magical creatures! Lots to learn with this Pollinator Perspective from one of our favorite teachers and artists!
Over in the peaceful and elegant Japanese Garden, some true fantasia will unfold during our Autumn Lights Festival. Cherry blossom lights softly illuminate the trees surrounding our reflecting pond, floating lanterns will lend their glow under the split rocks and manicured foliage. #ToraRocha and The Hooligans bring back the magic again this year.
Ryan Rawson brings his Fairy Circle back to Autumn Lights next month, his lights hovering over our shimmering Cascades. It’s hard to put this one into words – the arching LED towers reflecting into the rushing waters, it’s a gorgeous centerpiece for the #AutumnLightsFestival again!
Stan Clark’s Astrobotanicals are the glowing centerpiece of our Autumn Lights Festival, the first thing you see when you enter the garden, just nestled under the gigantic redwoods. Wander around and through these ginormous lotus blossoms and feel the magic!
In the delicate little Tea House in our Japanese Garden, artist Diane Matsumoto will bring us the glowing memorial called “36 Cranes: In Memory of the Victims of the #GhostShipFire.” The interplaying light of illuminated origami balloons and cranes honors the artists and others who perished in the devastating fire that so impacted the #Oakland #art community.