San Francisco’s ‘Avatar-like’ Forest of LEDs Is Coming Back

One of San Francisco’s most celebrated (and popular) public light installations, Entwined, will again return to Golden Gate Park next month — just in time to illuminate this holiday season.

Ever since Entwined debuted in Golden Gate Park’s Peacock Meadow, it has long sat as a touchstone for some publicly-accessible serotonin.

Entwined — the human-made floral wonderland of 2,000-plus LED lights that debuted in December of 2020 — has transformed Golden Gate Park’s Peacock Meadow will transform into an Avatar-like forest of c abstract shapes and nods to bioluminescence whenever it’s debuted to the public. Most recently, the grove of illuminated fake trees glowed in support of Ukraine before it completely dimmed this past March.

But, thankfully for us all, the Charles Gadeken-designed public light display will return on December 1st and run through at least March of 2023. This year, ­San Francisco Parks Alliance and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department — who have, again, partnered with Bay Area-based Gadeken — promise the upcoming iteration will be better than ever… and “fix” a few things that have gone wrong in the past.

“[For 2022], the goal is to fix, refine and expand the work,” says Gadeken. “We’re building and integrating larger, more reinforced bases for many of the sculptures, reinforcing branches, further waterproofing electronics for many sculpture pieces, and upgrading all lighting controls software.”

In a press release announcing the display, we learned that Entwined will introduce new sculptural artworks including a “fallen tree”, which will double as a seating area, “sapling” trees with hidden “world tree knots” that feature surprise miniature artworks by local artists, and greater interactivity. All of these additions build upon the “interactive elements and expanded layout that debuted last year.”

Much like last year: QR codes will be embedded on several sculptural pieces, which will allow passersby wielding their smartphones to orchestrate their own lighting experience and patterns. Oh! And a new sound system will also be included this year, bringing with it “omnidirectional sounds and a variety of intermittent immersive sound experiences.”

The beloved LED forest won’t just glow this year; it’ll roar and whisper and sing, as well. It’s both incredibly fitting and situational poetic that the display will be accessible along the JFK Promenade.

“Entwined has quickly become a San Francisco institution that offers something for everyone. We love seeing residents and visitors enjoying the lights of Entwined and showing their creativity,” said SF Parks Alliance CEO Drew Becher. 

“Parks are places for connection, beauty, and wonder and we are thrilled to welcome Entwined Meadow back to Golden Gate Park. This beloved and brilliant installation is something that parkgoers have come to look forward to around the holidays,” SF Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg said. “It’s always exciting seeing our public spaces light up in such a magical way, creating community through art.”

Also for 2022, Entwined will host a set schedule of music performances, live art demos, and more — all of which can be enjoyed in the newly installed seating areas expected to debut in tandem with the forest, as well.

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