“I walked among the dimly lit oaks with distant music drifting in the air. I thought how very much I liked the Oakland that was being created before my eyes. The event was multiracial and free-spirited; the sculpture sang in the balmy night…My, it was gaudy. The exhibits glowed and sparkled and occasionally talked. The variations in the light sculptures were inventive and surprising, and the people walking around in the dark were mysterious and cheerful. We are making our own traditions over here. The Autumn Lights Festival at the Gardens at Lake Merritt was a community celebration. Magic is all over — just look.”

Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 October, 2014

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Imaginary Photons and Coil are two Oakland-based collectives of light artists, specializing in atmospheric and environmental installations. Last year they brought this sound organ to Autumn Lights, allowing people to change the lights with the keys. Photo: Jonathan Ross

Like thousands of others, San Francisco Chronicle columnist and East Bay resident Jon Carroll took a few hours on an October evening last year to see Oakland in a new light. The 2015 Festival will be a two-night event, a collaboration between our incredible local art community and The Gardens at Lake Merritt, bringing light-infused art installations into the garden at night.

The festival is held inside the seven-acre oasis of themed gardens nestled in Lakeside Park. Last year, the festival welcomed nearly 3000 adults and kids who all strolled peacefully through the Gardens at night, and marvelled at the mesmerizing installations crafted by dozens of local artists.

Stan Clark's massive Astrobotoanicals are a focal point of the festival.

Stan Clark’s massive Astrobotoanicals are a focal point of the festival.

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Our Luna Moth enchants kids at the 2014 Autumn Lights Festival

Our Luna Moth enchants kids at the 2014 Autumn Lights Festival

The Autumn Lights Festival is a fundraiser for the Gardens at Lake Merritt, a free public garden that truly is the “Green Heart of Oakland”. In 2014 we approached our fundraising goal: $200,000 to redesign, landscape and responsibly irrigate the entrance plaza to the gardens, which is now a largely unmarked spot edged with cyclone fence.

Transportation:

We hope you can walk!

AC Transit has 3 stops located convenient to the entrance to Lakeside Park, and one shuttle will run a continuous loop from the 19th Street BART Station to the Garden Entrance between 5:30pm and 11:30pm.

Although you may be planning to drive, we ask that you please consider using public transit to the Festival. Parking within Lakeside Park is extremely limited and cannot be guaranteed. There is some free parking under the freeway at Lake Park Ave, near the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market site.

A shuttle will also run regularly between 5:30 pm and 11:30 pm from free parking under the freeway at Lake Park Ave, near the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market site.

The pickup spot for the Festival’s 16-passenger Grand Lake Parking Shuttle will be located on Lake Park Ave , by the crosswalk and directly opposite the Kwik Way Merritt Bakery (500 Lake Park Ave.). The Grand Lake Parking Shuttle will transport passengers directly to the Gardens at Lake Merritt, site of the Autumn Lights Festival (666 Bellevue St.). The Grand Lake Parking Shuttle will run on a loop, approximately every 25 minutes (traffic permitting).