Over the past four years, enchanted and light-infused art has established the Oakland Autumn Lights Festival as the city’s best Autumn annual tradition.

Held over four evenings in the night-darkened Gardens at Lake Merritt in Lakeside Park, this event is a fundraiser, with an old-school sense of purpose. Over four years’ of festivals, we reached a $200,000 goal. Those funds will finance a new Garden Entry Welcome Plaza in 2017, with lush plantings, energy-efficient lighting, durable and secure fencing, hardscaped sidewalks and containers, drought-tolerant irrigation. These will set off the Gardens’ grand new wrought-iron gates, designed by a local artist and financed by Oakland’s Measure DD.

The tradition now enters a fifth year, with a new fundraising target for a Second Phase. This includes a second gated entry, sufficient fencing to encompass the seven acres, improvements for the Garden Center building, and a permanent educational exhibit teaching the life cycle of butterflies. The new goal is $400,000 and the hope is to raise this over several years. Our relatively invisible gardens will become an Oakland landmark.

In 2016, the festival welcomed nearly 10,000 adults and children who strolled through the Gardens and marveled at mesmerizing, enchanting illuminated installations crafted by dozens of Bay Area artists.

In July 2016, the East Bay Express’s Nightlife & Entertainment Writers honored the Festival as the “Most ‘Lit’ Festival” in their Best of the East Bay 2016 Edition.