Results tagged “festival” from Raincross Square

19th Annual 'Festival of Lights'


Final preparations for the
Mission Inn (top) and the ice rink

Main Street near the Mission Inn

The 19th Annual Festival of Lights is set to begin Friday afternoon (Nov. 25) in downtown Riverside, with the official "switch-on" ceremony & fireworks taking place just after 5:00 p.m. in front of the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. (Be sure to arrive early for the opening night ceremony!)

Each year, thousands of visitors gather in and around the Mission Inn and along the downtown pedestrian mall for the daily festivities, which includes 3.6 million holiday lights, 400 animated figures -- one of the country's largest holiday displays.

Roving carolers, carriage rides, an ice rink, live entertainment, shopping, dining and -- of course -- photos with Santa round out the festivities.

This year's Festival runs daily from November 25 through January 8, 2012 (excepting Christmas).

As usual, free parking (street and garage) is available after 5 p.m. on weekdays and all day on the weekends and holidays. Your best bet is within five parking garages:

You can also check out activity via two city webcams: Mission Inn | Skating Rink


Out & About - 01/29/2011

Lunar Festival
Visitors stroll Mission Inn Avenue in downtown Riverside during Saturday's celebration marking the Chinese New Year.

18th Annual 'Festival of Lights'

Main Street near the Mission Inn

Pedestrian mall ice rink

Pedestrian mall
at Mission Inn Avenue

The 18th Annual Festival of Lights is set to begin Friday, Nov. 26 in downtown Riverside, with the official "switch-on" ceremony taking place just after 6:00 p.m. in front of the Mission Inn. This year's Festival runs from November 26 through January 2, 2011 (excepting Christmas).

Each year, thousands of visitors crowd the areas in and around the Mission Inn and along the downtown pedestrian mall for the festivities, which includes over 3.5 million holiday lights and animated figures, an ice rink, live entertainment, shopping, dining and -- of course -- photos with Santa.

This year, the city is seeking photos for creating what it hopes will be the world's largest holiday card for U.S. troops. The card will be a 20-by-30-foot collage of submitted photos and messages. You can submit your photo/message at the city's 'Festival of Lights' Website. There will also be a both on the pedestrian mall on selected days. Photos must be submitted by December 5th.

As usual, free parking (street and garage) is available after 5 p.m. during the week and all day on the weekends and holidays. Your best bet for easy parking is within five parking garages -- three on Orange Street: Ninth | University | Mission Inn; and two on Market Street: Ninth | University.


Out & About - 12/19/2009

Festive decorations at every corner during downtown Riverside's yearly 'Festival of Lights'
Slideshow: Out & About

On Saturday evening, we spent a couple hours browsing and shopping during the annual 'Festival of Lights' in downtown Riverside, snapping a few photos -- and finding a few nice surprises along the way.

First, it was great to once again see the storefront windows -- decorated and lit up for the holidays -- for the long-shuttered Westbrook's / Imperial Hardware building. We're hoping the windows remain on display following the holidays (possibly for historical/museum displays ... ?).

Second, the newly opened 3rd floor for Mission Galleria offered sweeping views of the pedestrian mall below.

And finally, it was nice to see fresh art sculptures (one | two) along the pedestrian mall near UCR/California Museum of Photography.

We found the newly refurbished pedestrian mall to work quite well with the large crowds, particularly alongside the Mission Inn. The new layout allowed for a larger ice rink and a larger events stage.

The Festival of Lights includes an ice rink, carriage rides, carolers, shopping, food, entertainment -- and Santa Claus. Oh, and of course, the centerpiece is the historic Mission Inn decorated with over 3.5 million lights and hundreds of animated displays.

The event runs daily (excepting Christmas) through January 3.

Slideshow: Out & About


17th annual 'Festival of Lights'


This week marks the beginning of the yearly "Festival of Lights" in downtown Riverside. Every night for 5 weeks between Nov. 27 and Jan. 3 (excepting Christmas), several blocks of the newly refurbished Main Street pedestrian mall come alive for the holidays.

City of Riverside

The centerpiece of the Festival is the historic Mission Inn hotel, which will again be adorned with over 3.5 million holiday lights and hundreds of animated figures.
Along with the lights are an ice rink, carriage rides, carolers, shopping, food, entertainment -- and Santa Claus. Nearby shops and restaurants usually offer extended hours during the festival.

Friday, Nov. 27th is the event's official kick-off, which includes a special "switch on" ceremony and fireworks show that begins just after 6:00 p.m.

Parking for the nightly event is available in 4 municipal parking garages and on nearby streets (with free parking at all locations after 5 p.m. and all day on the weekends/holidays).

What originally began in 1993 as a hotel-only event has since grown to include city sponsorship, spreading to nearby shops and adjacent blocks. It has become one of America's largest holiday light displays.



Photo pool spotlight - 12/29/2008


Flickr - Raincross Square photo pool

Got a great photo of downtown Riverside or the city in general? Add it to the Raincross Square photo pool. Or view what others have uploaded.

2008 'Festival of Lights'

Festival of Lights

Mission Inn

In case you missed it, the 16th annual Festival of Lights began this past weekend in downtown Riverside. With 3.5 million lights and hundreds of animated figures, the crown jewel of the nightly festival is the historic Mission Inn hotel. As usual, Friday night's "lighting ceremony" incorporated extra festivities, including live music and fireworks.

Also included are an ice skating rink, carriage rides and several vendors and shops along the Main Street Pedestrian Mall. Most stores have extended their hours during the festival (something we'd like to see more of them do at other times during the year).

The festival runs nightly through January 4th (excepting Christmas Day). We suggest parking in one of the two available Orange Street parking garages, particularly if you're visiting Friday, Saturday or Sunday evenings (parking is free after 5 p.m. and all day on the weekends). Another garage is also available off Market Street between Mission Inn and University avenues.

For those looking to make dinner plans (or simply grab a quick bite), several top-notch restaurants and eateries -- including Mario's, Restaurant Omakase, Duane's, Las Campanas, Cafe Sevilla, Old Spaghetti Factory, Simple Simons, Phood on Main, Pacific Stix and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf -- are all within a few blocks.



March Field AirFest 2008


This weekend, the skies over Inland Southern California will reverberate with the thundering sounds of the USAF Thunderbirds as the team performs during "AirFest 2008" at March Air Reserve Base.

AirFest 2004

March Field

March Field

Aerial view
(note the outline of
the base's original quad)
MS Virtual Earth

The base, celebrating its 90th year, will once again open up the gates to the public during its annual open house/air show. The event, which attracts upwards of 250,000 people, has become the largest such air show in Southern California.

In addition to the Thunderbirds, flyovers will include the F-22, F-18, KC-135, C-130 as well an impressive short runway landing/takeoff demo performed by a March ARB-based Globemaster C-17. Also scheduled are precision parachute teams from the US Army "Golden Knights" and Canadian Skyhawks, a Red Bull MiG-17 aerial demonstration and several stunt pilots and vintage aircraft. On the tarmac will be over 50 aircraft available for up-close inspection, including several open for "walk-thrus."

Gates will be open 8:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., Sat. May 3 and Sun. May, 4. Free parking is available on base grounds.

March ARB was initially established in 1918 during World War I as Alessandro Flying Training Field under the command of the fledgling Army Air Service (later to become the Army Air Corps.) The base, which is the oldest Air Force base west of the Mississippi, immediately took the name March Field in honor of 2nd Lt. Peyton C. March Jr.

Through the years, the base was home to many of the nation's most celebrated pilots and commanders, including Hoyt Vandenberg, Curtis LeMay, Nathan Twining and Henry "Hap" Arnold. With its close proximity to Hollywood, March also played host to Bob Hope's first major USO show in May 1941.

Following World War II, March became part of the newly-formed Tactical Air Command (TAC), housing the 1st Fighter Wing for the Army Air Force. Upon establishment of the US Air Force as an independent branch in 1948, the base was renamed March Air Force Base, becoming a major Strategic Air Command (SAC) bomber base and headquarters for the 15th Air Force. For several years, B-29s, B-52s and KC-135s dominated the tarmac -- and the overhead skies.

In 1982, KC-10s replaced the last of March's B-52s as the primary mission changed from bombardment to air refueling and support. In 1996, as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, the base was renamed March Air Reserve Base.

Today, as the largest air reserve base in the nation, March ARB supports all branches of the US military. The base is home to the 4th Air Force HQ and several other units, including the 4th Combat Camera Squadron, the 163d Reconnaissance Wing, the American Forces Radio and Television Service, the Southwest Interdiction Unit of U.S. Customs as well as an air wing of Homeland Security.

With Southern California's longest paved runway, the now joint-use facility includes March GlobalPort, which serves as the West Coast hub for cargo shipper DHL.



Sources: March Air Reserve Base, March Field Museum, USAF, WikiPedia

GMA does FOL


Last Friday, weatherman Sam Champion of ABC-TV's Good Morning America paid a visit to downtown Riverside for a special broadcast highlighting the Mission Inn's "Festival of Lights." The live broadcast was part of GMA's weeklong, "Light up the Holidays" special, wherein 5 different holiday displays from across the U.S. were featured during the program's weather segments.

GMA visits the "Festival of Lights"

For those who missed the broadcast, has a report here. For those interested in visiting the FOL, the festival runs nightly through Jan. 1, 2008. We suggest parking in one of the three Orange Street parking garages in downtown, particularly if you're visiting Friday, Saturday or Sunday evenings (parking is free after 5 p.m. and all day on the weekends). A fourth garage is also available off Market Street between Mission Inn and University avenues.

This is the 15th year of the FOL, which began as a modest, hotel-only holiday lights event that has since grown to include over 3 million lights, animated figures, carolers, carriage rides and a small ice skating rink on the Main Street Pedestrian Mall.



Out & About - 10/06/2007


Saturday, October 6, 2007 - This past Saturday, if one ventured down to the weekly Farmers Market held on the pedestrian mall in downtown Riverside, they couldn't help but hear the sounds from a multicultural festival just two blocks away.

The 9th Annual "Multicultural Family Village Festival" took place in front of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, located on Mission Inn Avenue at Orange Street. Sponsored by the city-run museum, the modest festival included music, dance, arts & crafts and food from a number of local community groups.

The event gave us an excuse to revisit a special exhibit inside the Metropolitan Museum itself. The exhibit is the first of a two-part exhibit, "The Mission Inn: Celebrating 30 Years as a National Historic Landmark," which is being shared with the nearby Mission Inn Museum.

Part one -- "Creating a Legacy (1875 - 1955)" -- showcases personal artifacts from the Miller family during the Inn's early days, including paintings, photographs and a few pieces of furniture. Also on display is the original sketch (and U.S. Patent) for the Raincross symbol. The exhibit ends its 3-month run on October 14.

Part two -- "Saving the Community's Heritage (1955 - present)" -- documents the Inn during rough times following the end of the Miller family stewardship, the subsequent ownership changes and selling off of some of the Inn's treasures, the eventual multi-million dollar refurbishment and recent revival. This second exhibit opened last month at the Mission Inn Museum and runs through January 5, 2008.

Admission to both museums is free (though a nominal donation of $2 is gladly accepted).


Out & About - 05/06/2007


Sunday, May 6, 2007 - Downtown Riverside was busier than usual this past weekend as both ends of Main Street hosted separate 3-day events.

At the south end near the Riverside County Courthouse was the 9th annual "Show and Go" classic car show. Produced by Riverside East Rotary, the car and cruising event has steadily grown to showcase several hundred hot rods. Title sponsor for this year's event was Riverside-based K&N Filters.

Just 5 blocks north down Main Street was the 2007 "Home & Garden Show" at the Riverside Convention Center at Raincross Square. The event featured everything from home improvement services to backyard patio and kitchen products. The show encompassed the entire interior of the convention center as well as the outdoor plaza adjacent to the Marriott.

Although having the event spill out into the outdoor plaza helped entice folks strolling nearby into the show itself, it also displayed the need for an expanded convention center, which the city hopes to accomplish as part of the Riverside Renaissance Initiative.

At 50,000 square feet, the 31-year-old Riverside Convention Center is half the size of the 10-year-old Ontario Convention Center. And although its interior is in relatively good shape, the exterior is indeed a bit bland and could use a face-lift.

Festival of Lights


This Friday marks the debut of an expanded Festival of Lights in downtown Riverside.

Along with the usual carolers, carriage rides, one-of-a-kind shopping/dining and millions of holiday lights, this year's FOL has grown to include a compact ice rink. Skating at the rink, located on the Main Street Pedestrian Mall between Mission Inn and University avenues, will cost $10 per hour with skate rentals running $3.

Mission Inn

Of course, the centerpiece of the FOL is the Mission Inn Hotel itself, decorated to the hilt with millions of lights and several hundred animated figures (the assortment of holiday decorations grows each year).

The event is scheduled to kickoff with the "switch-on" ceremony at 6:15 p.m., Friday, Nov. 24.

Parking is free on weekends and holidays and after 5 p.m. weekdays, including within the 4 city-owned parking garages (we suggest using the Orange Square garage located at Ninth and Orange streets).

Reservations are recommended for the various horse-drawn carriages as well as dinner at any of the Mission Inn restaurants, Mario's Place or Cafe Sevilla -- particularly on weekends and days in and around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. And if you're planning an overnight stay, advanced reservations are highly recommended for either the Mission Inn or Marriott hotels.




Video: 2006 Festival of Lights

Audio Slideshow: 2006 Festival of Lights

Out & About - 11/18/2006


Saturday, November 18, 2006 - The weekend heading into Thanksgiving finds downtown Riverside in a state of transformation as finishing touches are being made to holiday decorations ahead of the annual Festival of Lights, which officially begins the Friday after turkey day.

This year, a new addition to an expanded FOL had workers assembling a compact ice rink. Slated to open in time for next weekend's FOL kickoff ceremony, the rink is situated on the Main Street Pedestrian Mall between Mission Inn and University avenues.

Oh, and during our stroll around downtown we noticed that the long-awaited Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is now open at the base of the California Tower. CB&TL joins fellow coffee purveyor Starbucks in joining the downtown mix.

In other news, the Mission Inn Coffee Co. has been officially replaced by Bella Trattoria Italian Bistro. Also, the small band stage outside City Hall is no more (likely in preparation for the eventual re-opening of Ninth Street thru the pedestrian mall). And the massive rebuilding of the 60/91/I-215 freeways interchange continues to move along.

Riverside embraces the 'Lights'


Now that the Orange Blossom Festival is officially kaput, officials in Riverside are eyeing an enlarged Festival of Lights as a quasi-replacement for the annual citrus celebration.

Already a great success in its own right, the annual FOL draws tens of thousands of visitors from throughout Southern California during the winter holidays. The centerpiece of the nightly event is the historic Mission Inn, aglow with millions of holiday lights and animated figures. The festivities extend to the adjacent Main Street Pedestrian Mall where horse-drawn carriages and carolers stroll amongst one-of-a-kind shops.

The event, which began as a modest hotel-only event in 1993, has since grown into one of the premier holiday lights displays in the country:

Mission Inn - Campanario

Mission Inn - Spanish Patio
The festival has become nationally known -- an article in People magazine in 2005 put a photo of the Mission Inn all lit up next to a photo of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City. The Press-Enterprise

With the city's backing, an enlarged event will add an outdoor ice rink and expanded holiday decorations/lights throughout downtown.

In light of the growing popularity of the FOL, reservations are recommended for the various horse-drawn carriages as well as dinner at any of the Mission Inn restaurants, Mario's Place or Cafe Sevilla -- particularly on weekends and days in and around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. And if you're planning an overnight stay, advanced reservations are highly recommended for either the Mission Inn or Marriott hotels.

Although we lament the complete loss of the Orange Blossom Festival and hope the city revives some sort of citrus heritage celebration and/or arts & culture expo in the near future, we agree that an expanded Festival of Lights could turn out to be a much bigger boon to the city. After all, instead of one huge weekend event, the FOL lasts nearly 6 weeks.

Not a bad "replacement," to say the least.




March Field AirFest 2006


This weekend marks the return of the USAF Thunderbirds to March Air Reserve Base near Riverside. The precision flying team has been making regular stops at the base's air shows for many years, the last being 2004.

This weekend's show marks the homecoming of sorts for one of the Thunderbird pilots, Maj. Nicole Malachowski, who spent part of her childhood in Upland. She's also the first female pilot in the history of the Thunderbirds. Many of her relatives will be at this weekend's airshow.

"It's exciting to be back in Southern California," Malachowski said Thursday after a practicing with the Thunderbirds over March, Riverside, Moreno Valley and Perris. "It's overwhelming and exhilarating and I'm enjoying this."

The Press-Enterprise

March Field AirFest

USAF Thunderbirds

Included in this weekend's airshow will be flight demonstrations of the Air Force's primary aircraft, including the F-15E "Strike Eagle," F-16 "Viper," C-17 "Globemaster," C-130 "Hercules," B-52 "Stratofortress," KC-135 "Stratotanker," as well as the F-22 "Raptor," and F-117 "Stealth Fighter."

A U.S. Navy F-18 "Hornet" and Russian MiG-21 are also part of the flight demonstrations along with historic Air Force aircraft B-17, B-25, P-38 and P-51. Vietnam War-vintage helicopters, precision parachute teams and stunt pilots help round out the flight demostration activities. Numerous aircraft will also be on display -- and for walk-thrus -- along March's large tarmac.

The airshow is the only such USAF show held in Greater Los Angeles and is usually one of the largest in the country. And due to the proximity to the Thunderbirds' home base of Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, family members of many of the pilots will be making the trek to March ARB for this weekend's airshow.

The March Field AirFest is Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30, from 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., with the Thunderbirds performing at 3:15 p.m. both days. Admission is free.

Photo Gallery: AirFest 2004


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