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The San Francisco Valentine's Day Pillow Fight

Updated on September 26, 2012

When normal, boring people think of Valentine's Day, they probably think of romance, cards, presents, overpriced flower deliveries, chick flicks, and chocolate. When cool San Franciscans think of Valentine's Day, they think of pillows, chaos, epic battles, feathers flying everywhere, and insane costumes. Why? Because every February 14th, there's a pillow fight flash mob in Justin Herman Plaza- right in the middle of San Francisco's Embarcadero.

The pillow fight starts at 6:00pm and lasts until... well, until all the pillows have been torn to pieces and pillow warriors have been maimed, destroyed, or worked to the point of exhaustion.

Without a doubt, the SF Pillow fight is the best Valentine's Day activity out there. Forget pillow talk! Come to San Francisco next Valentine's Day and join the pillow WAR!

Justin Herman Plaza

Justin Herman Plaza San Francisco, CA 94105:
Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA

get directions

The pillow fight takes place right next to the fountain.

The Important Details

So that you don't miss out on this AMAZING flash mob, here are the essential details:

  • The SF pillow fight takes place annually on February 14th (most pillow fights; those in NYC, LA, Shanghai, Sydney, Rome, Paris, Prague, Dublin, etc... take place on International Pillow Fight Day, which is usually the first Saturday of April).
  • The fight takes place in Justin Herman Plaza, next to the world's ugliest fountain
  • The pillow fight begins promptly at 6:00pm
  • Your life will not be complete if you show up without a proper pillow
  • You should also consider wearing a special pillow fight costume

If you participate in the fight, be prepared to:

  • Be covered in goose down: Pillows will break. Feathers will fly. It will look glorious. And it will get EVERYWHERE.
  • Be pummeled like there's no tomorrow: You do understand this is a pillow fight, right?
  • Be hit by some things harder than pillows: People are waving their arms all around, and occasionally being jostled. Be prepared to come into contact with some elbows and errant cameras- and the occasional non-foam-stuffed pillow (I was only hit by ONE too hard and heavy for comfort pillow, so don't worry too much about that part, but keep it in mind).
  • Have the time of your life.


What to Bring

It's obvious that you should bring a pillow to the fight, but there are some other accouterments that may significantly improve your pillow fighting experience:

  • Goggles: To protect your eyes from goose down- and make you look AWESOME!
  • A mask or bandana: To protect your nose and mouth from goose down
  • A hat or good: To protect your hair from goose down (believe me, it gets EVERYWHERE)
  • Protective clothing (maybe even a helmet): You might get a bit bumped and bruised. Hey, it's a pillow fight flash mob; what do you expect?
  • An awesome costume: The stranger you dress, the better. This is an event for seeing and being seen!
  • A camera: Even if you're fighting, you might want to snap some photos to make the moment last longer.
  • A group of friends: The more the merrier! You can form a battalion!

What about you?

Have you participated in a pillow fight before?

See results

How to Behave

Some basic pointers for the pillow fight:

  • Be polite - don't hit people in the face.
  • Be careful where you walk and try not to jostle people.
  • Don't hit photographers (especially if they're sticking to the outskirts... photographers who enter the fray and get in your way totally have it coming).
  • If you're bringing kids, keep your pillow fighting to the outskirts of the battle.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Good Vantage Points for Onlookers

If you're not interested in participating in the fight (perhaps you have a terrible allergy to goose down... or HATE FUN), the following vantage points are great for watching the battle without getting pummeled:

  • The steps around Justin Herman Plaza: They provide an elevated viewing space and enable people to line up without obstructing each other's views.
  • The two balconies in the fountain: These offer a great elevated vantage point, but be warned- you'll need to come early if you want to stake out a good viewing point!
  • The steps leading to the second level of the Embarcadero Mall: Another slightly more distanced elevated vantage point.
  • The Hyatt Regency Hotel lobby: Enables you to view the fight from indoors, which is ideal if you've got severe allergies.

Of course, if you do just plan to watch, be prepared to be filled with remorse at not actually joining in on the fun.

If you ever find yourself in San Francisco on a Valentine's Day, don't miss this event! It may cause upwards of $15,000 in cleanup costs, but it sure is amazing.

Click thumbnail to view full-size


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    • Marina Lazarevic profile image


      6 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Oh wow, that is an awesome video!! I am glad you made it out alive. Do people bring reserve pillows to these things? I can't imagine one is enough.

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      It really was fun, CassyLu1981! Thanks for stopping by :D

      Aren't these fun, Happyboomernurse? I love discovering events like this.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      6 years ago from South Carolina

      What a great hub and video! Never heard of this but it sure looks fun.

      Voted up, funny, awesome and interesting.

    • CassyLu1981 profile image


      6 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      This looks like a blast!!!! Will have to get put down on my to do list for sure! Thanks :) Voted up and shared!!!

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Hahaa, true that, livelonger. True that. I did get hit a lot, but since my camera came away unscathed, I'm a happy camper!

      I shot this one with a Nikon D5100, Max Dalton. There was certainly a fair amount of genuine thumping, and for that, I am thankful! Nothing's lamer than a lazy pillow fight.

      Alastar Packer, I can definitely say that San Francisco is a choice city. Though Boresviille certainly has a cool name!

      I really do want to hug whoever came up with this idea, AfricaResource.

      And I bet stuff like this happens in Austin all the time, Marcy! I need to go there someday @_@

      Hehee- I agree, infobrowser. Pillow fights deserve a lot of attention :D

      And I hope you do, alissaroberts! Have one on International Pillow Fight Day! Just get all your friends together!

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 

      6 years ago from Normandy, TN

      This is awesome! Now I want to start a big pillow fight in Tennessee! I enjoyed the video too - felt like I was right in the action. I now feel the need to grab a pillow and start a fight with my boys :) Great hub - voted up and awesome!

    • Infobrowser profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      When I uploaded video onto one of my hubs about a huge pillow fight in Holland I remember saying to myself "This video's worth a hub in itself". You've completely proved that it was indeed possible and I must say you've done an excellent job!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      6 years ago from Planet Earth

      This sounds like something we'd do here in Austin! I'm jealous! Fun hub; voted up and interesting.

    • AfricaResource profile image


      6 years ago from Dorking, Surrey, United Kingdom

      What a brilliant idea!!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      How cool. San Fran must be a hoot to call home. You'd never see anything like that here in Boresville USA.

    • Max Dalton profile image

      Max Dalton 

      6 years ago from Greater St. Louis, Missouri

      That was a fantastic video. Did you shoot that with a smart phone? Great pictures, too. Very cool event. I've never heard of it before. Some people were lazing around, but there were some people who were genuinely thumping people.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      It's only fun until someone's eyes get poked out. Ha! I've heard about this for years but have never attended. I'm glad your camera didn't get nailed, because it looks like a lot of people were just flinging their pillow around willy-nilly.

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm sure you would have a blast watching this, donnaisabella! Perhaps you might even join in and end up having a blast! It is beautiful to see all those feathers flying. What a sight!

      Oh, SF on V-Day is a must, Eric Newland! Besides, very near Justin Herman Plaza where the fight takes place is a GIGANTIC Cupid's bow right by the water. Perfect for cute, romantic vacation photos :D

      Oh, they're the coolest, randomcreative! Hopefully you can participate in one someday :D

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Wow, how crazy! I had never heard of this before. It sounds like a fun idea.

    • Eric Newland profile image

      Eric Newland 

      6 years ago from Dayton, Ohio

      Wow, talk about a sense of community! Don't think I can get in on the action, even on International Pillow Fight Day. But if I ever have a chance to plan a vacation around V-day I now know where I'm going!

    • donnaisabella profile image

      Isabella Mukanda-Shamambo 

      6 years ago from Fort Myers

      Wow Simone! I kept wondering as I read if I could ever join a pillow fight. Actually I would make a good spectator standing on the elevated stairs or in the balcony. I am so chicken when it comes to being physical either I take it too seriously and hurt somebody of flee to safety. I choose the latter. Thanks for sharing it is absolutely unbelievable and - 'beautiful', yes beautiful after all.


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