Little Italy Christmas Tree Lights Up the Community

A California artist created a Christmas tree that illuminates with nearly a thousand LED lights

Joshua Hubert

San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood has a new Christmas tree at Piazza Basilone---but it’s a bit non-traditional.

The tree stands as an actual piece of art, created by Oakland-based sculptural lighting artist, Joshua Hubert.

The 32-foot piece is called “Aurora” – in honor of the Aurora Borealis, a magical winter light show in the sky.

Joshua Hubert
Photo Credit: Joshua Hubert

“Aurora” is made of poly carbonate, giving it the definition of glass, and features nearly a thousand LED lights – making for a jaw-dropping display in the day and at night.

“I wanted it to react with the sun or wind so throughout the day, during different kinds of sunsets and direct sunlight, that you would just be able to experience the piece at all different times of the day,” said Joshua Hubert, sculptural lighting artist.

The faux Christmas tree is also a bit of a science project. Hubert said he can control every cluster of LED nights individually inside the tree and can program them to nearly 17-million colors, giving the tree a 3-D effect.

Photo Credit: Joshua Hubert

Hubert added that the tree “goes through different moods,” depending on how fast or slow the patterns are programmed.

“I really like having the ability to bring my art to people who have never experienced anything like that,” said Hubert.

Hubert’s tree will be up for the next four Christmas seasons with each year bringing new elements, like an outdoor speaker for the tree to react to music and possibly motion sensors to give visitors an interactive experience.

Photo Credit: Joshua Hubert

Hubert hopes he can light up more San Diego neighborhoods soon.

“I would love to do lots more in San Diego. It’s a great city. Just driving around the city, I was looking at how much opportunity there was – I see that there is actually quite a bit of illumination pieces and architecture popping up here and there,” said Hubert.

For a closer look at Hubert’s work, click here.

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