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Arts & Entertainment

Festival of Lights Returns for the 30th Anniversary Celebration

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa along with the City of Riverside bring excitement back to Downtown Riverside during the holidays with lights, entertainment, and vendors for the 30th year

Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
Brenda Flowers

The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa brings back its Festival of Lights on November 25 for the community to enjoy throughout the holiday season. The six-week display is set to return for the 30th year with a special lighting display produced by the City of Riverside. The festival draws more than 500,000 people annually and is a local staple during the holiday season. With more than 2 million twinkling holiday lights to draw spectators and assortment of animated characters and sculptures, the return after two years of limiting activities will be welcomed by all.

In celebration of the commemorative 30th anniversary of the Festival, the City of Riverside will introduce new elements that include dancing palm trees, golden lights, and snow elements according to Margie Haupt, Arts & Cultural Affairs Manager.

Santa returns to his house on Main Street, but new this year guests will be allowed to take their own photographs with him as there will be no official photographer.   

The Artisans Collective will be set up on Main Street, between University Street and 9th Street. Additionally, “The Collective”, comprises the Riverside Arts Council, Riverside Downtown Partnership, and Division 9 Gallery, will coordinate community and professional entertainment on the Ben Franklin Stage next to city hall.

The Festival of Lights is a major economic driver in our region during the holiday season, bringing national attention and people from all around to patronize our downtown businesses while enjoying the festivities. In a report on the economic impact of the festival, the City of Riverside notates that more than 43% of visitors are non-local. Additionally, the average spending of groups during their stay at the festival was around $701 in 2018.

The City of Riverside plans to further support small businesses during the festival by decreasing the number of vendors in comparison to prior years and encouraging festival-goers to visit the businesses in the area. The COVID-19 pandemic created decreased regulations with regards to outdoor expansion of businesses, many of which expanded into the Downtown Main Street Plaza. There will be six vendors this year housed in little chalet cottages.

The Switch-On Ceremony will take place on Friday, November 25, 2022 from 4:30 to 10:00 PM. The rest of the Lighting and Décor will remain on display from Saturday, November 26, 2022 through Friday, January 6, 2023. The event will be utilized as a self-guided holiday experience with information being available to visitors on the City website.