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Valentines Day Ferris wheel lighting at the Santa Monica Pier

Published on February 6, 2024

The Pacific Wheel will be lit red, pink, with lots of hearts on Monday, February 12 to Friday, February 16 to celebrate Valentines Day.

The Pacific Wheel will once again light up for love this Valentine’s Day with a special light program that features hearts and fun emojis.

Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day, is an annual celebration on February 14th dedicated to love and affection. Although its origins are complex and intertwined with various historical threads, it has evolved into a significant cultural, religious, and commercial event in many parts of the world. Valentine’s Day holds different meanings for different people. It can be a day to strengthen romantic bonds, celebrate platonic love, or simply express appreciation for those you care about. Whether you choose grand gestures or simple acts of kindness, the core idea of celebrating love in various forms remains the essence of this day.

This special lighting event will take place on the evening of Monday, February 12 to Friday, February 16. The Ferris wheel lights can be seen from dusk until 11:35 PM each evening. Enjoy watching the light program online at

Special Lighting of the Pacific Wheel for Valentines Day 2024

Monday, February 12 to Friday, February 16
dusk (around 5:30 PM) to midnight

Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier


In the US, Valentine’s Day wasn’t always hearts, flowers, and candy. Its journey began with a mix of pagan revelry, Christian symbolism, and eventually, commercialized romance. Here’s a glimpse into its 400-year evolution:

From Pagan Roots to Saintly Whispers (1700s):

  • Early 18th century America saw hand-crafted valentines inspired by England’s tradition. Simple notes with affection or even playful jabs were exchanged.
  • The origin story itself remains shrouded in mystery. Several saints named Valentine were martyred around February 14th, possibly leading to the association with love.
  • Some believe the day absorbed aspects of the Roman festival Lupercalia, a fertility celebration held mid-February.

Love Takes Flight (1800s):

  • The 19th century witnessed a major turning point. Esther Howland, dubbed the “Mother of American Valentines,” started mass-producing greeting cards in the 1840s.
  • Affordable postage and rising literacy boosted the popularity of sending valentines, often adorned with lace, ribbons, and sentimental poems.
  • Red roses, symbolizing passion and beauty, emerged as the go-to flower, thanks to Victorian flower language. Chocolate makers capitalized on the romantic theme, offering heart-shaped delights.

Evolution of Romance (20th & 21st Centuries):

  • The 20th century saw further commercialization, with diamond companies promoting Valentine’s Day as the perfect occasion for engagement.
  • Gradually, the holiday expanded beyond romantic love, encompassing platonic friendships and familial bonds.
  • Today, Valentine’s Day holds varying significance. While some celebrate with grand gestures, others opt for quiet dinners or simply enjoy spending time with loved ones.

In essence, Valentine’s Day in the US has woven together pagan rituals, Christian legends, and modern consumerism. While its romantic overtones remain strong, the celebration has evolved to accommodate and reflect diverse expressions of love and appreciation. We chose hearts in pink, red, and purple for our special Valentine’s Day light program to reflect the holiday’s over-arching theme of romance.

Pacific Park regularly programs the Ferris wheel to display seasonal programing and themed light designs for holidays and special occasions. The Pacific Wheel’s state-of-the-art lighting package was installed in 2016 and can display over 1.6 million different colors and animate patterns and icons in 24 frames per second. The energy efficient LEDs on the face of the Ferris wheel are powered by solar arrays inside Pacific Park. The light programs are curated and designed by Pacific Park staff. Each design is manually animated; some designs can take hours of programming. The aim is to provide fun, high-energy, and sometimes whimsical designs to entertain guests on the Santa Monica Pier and surrounding beaches.


Feature image courtesy of @pacpark