By Sarah Johnson |Staff Writer|
A free event to check out during winter break is the 22nd Annual Festival of Lights, located in Downtown Riverside at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa.
The festival is an annual holiday event that lasts five weeks, beginning Nov. 28th and ending on Jan. 3rd.
To kick off the program, there is a “switch-on ceremony” presented by Duane and Kelly Roberts, owners of the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa.
The ceremony is an illumination of Downtown Riverside’s buildings, centered by the Mission Inn Hotel, decorated with more than three and a half million twinkling, colorful lights, accompanied by a fireworks show.
“Visiting the festival during the holiday season is one of my favorite things to do at the end of the year. It’s become a tradition for my family, and something I always look forward to,” said student Dawnika Lopez.
If you don’t like crowds, you can check out the event in the weeks following opening night. The lights are still as beautiful and bright as the first night they are lit.
“I absolutely LOVE going to the Mission Inn during Christmas. I’ve never been on the opening night because I’m not a fan of crowds, but if you go during the week in
December it’s not too packed,” said student Alexis Perez.
There are many other things for festival-goers to see at the Mission Inn.
You can ice skate for $15 per person, which includes skate rentals.
The rink is open for these five weeks, at various times throughout the week.
For those who would love to snap a picture with Santa Claus, he is scheduled to be there at predetermined times during the holiday season.
To see the full schedule of rink hours and Santa Claus visit times, check out riverside.ca.gov and go to the “Programs” page.
There are also various vendors to stroll around and check out, who are selling all sorts of different items such as roasted pecans, light-up pins, and necklaces.
One spot to surely check out is The Gingerbread Shop.
This snack stand sells all sorts of warming holiday treats, such as cinnamon rolls, gingerbread cake, and of course, gingerbread men.
They also sell yummy, hot beverages, such as hot chocolate, apple spice cider, or flavored hot teas.
This tiny little building is hard to miss, and has been there for nine years. With its A-shaped roof frame and pink coloring, it stands out and draws in curious visitors.
If you have yet to attend this eyeful of an event, I encourage you to do so.
The Festival of Lights is a fun way to spend time with family and get into the holiday spirit.