For six weeks every holiday season the Riverside Mission Inn lights up the town with close to 5-million lights and decorations that create a fairyland-like atmosphere that is enjoyed by visitors from around the world.
The celebration begins the day after Thanksgiving with the official Switch-On ceremony in the evening setting the downtown Riverside area aglow.
The evening begins early at 4:30 p.m. and continues until midnight on Friday, Nov. 23rd, but to get a good space, you should be there early as parking fills up and the crowd gets dense.
The Switch-On happens at 5:00 p.m. when the inn turns on the switch for all the lights and a fireworks display creates a spectacular evening sky.
“Experiencing the Festival of Lights gives you the true holiday spirit, especially when shared with family,” Mission Inn employee Ibeth Castillo said. “It quickly becomes a family tradition that you look forward to each year.”
Hundreds of animated figures from nutcrackers to Santa and his sleigh are on display all around the property, and you can even take a carriage ride through the streets.
“It’s easy to get in your daily steps over the holidays after enjoying a fabulous meal at one of the Mission Inn restaurants,” said Tara Stoutenborough of Ashland, Oregon.
The Mission Inn is in downtown Riverside where many of the sidewalks are festively decorated and the shops and restaurants become a part of the holiday celebration.
“You can come and walk the area spending an entire evening with family and friends enjoying the sights and lights,” said Lindsay Thompson of Menifee, California
The giant Ferris wheel will give you an entirely different perspective of this downtown celebratory experience.
“I’ve lived in Riverside for over 30 years and when I share that with people they always ask if I live near the Mission Inn,” Arline Allman said. “The Mission Inn is a historical landmark with so much to offer our local community and the Festival of Lights is the crème de la crème of holiday enjoyment.”
The area surrounding the Mission Inn will include street performers, the innovative arts market where you can purchase original art from local artists and a vintage carousel for the young kids to enjoy.
“There is something for all ages to enjoy at the Mission Inn Festival of Lights,” said Deborah Jones of LaVerne, California, “It’s a sensory experience: the beautiful surroundings, the smells of gingerbread and cinnamon from the street vendors and the sounds of music permeating the area create a family environment that readies everyone for the joy of the holidays.”