Each year, thousands of visitors gather in and around the Mission Inn and along the pedestrian mall in downtown Riverside for the ‘Festival of Lights,’ which includes approximately 4 million holiday lights and over 400 animated figures. What began in 1993 as a modest, hotel-only event has grown into one of the premier holiday lights displays in the country.
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 29 through January 4, 2014 (excepting Christmas).
The day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 29) is the official “Lighting Ceremony” — including a fireworks show — that takes place usually around 5 p.m. in front of the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. (Be sure to arrive early for the opening night ceremony!)
As usual, free parking (street and garage) is available after 5 p.m. on weekdays and all day on the weekends and holidays (the exception is for the Nov. 29th Lighting Ceremony, where some parking is $5). Your best bet is within six parking garages:
- Two identical Orange Street garages: near Mission Inn | near University
- Two Ninth Street garages: at Orange | at Market
- One Market Street garage: between University and Mission Inn
- The Fox Theater garage (corner of Sixth and Fairmount)
- Riverside Press-Enterprise – Info on Riverside’s biggest holiday event (Nov. 28)
- City of Riverside – Festival of Lights | Parking info
- Mission Inn – Festival of Lights
Sources: City of Riverside, Mission Inn