Friday, November 23 marks the 20th anniversary of the Festival of Lights presented by the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa and kicks off the 5 week celebration with the annual switch on ceremony at 4:30 p.m. During Festival of Lights downtown Riverside is transformed into a holiday wonderland with over 3.5 million lights displayed on the Mission Inn, along with other light displays, decorations and activities throughout downtown. Visitors can enjoy the Main Street ice skating rink, a visit with Santa at his Workshop, shopping, music, fine dining, sweet treats with a steamy coffee, and a horse-drawn carriage ride.
New this year, the City of Riverside has partnered with Division 9 Gallery to present an ARTISANS COLLECTIVE, an innovative arts market that will take place Fridays & Saturdays beginning November 30. Find original art from local artisans, discover a creative marketplace filled with hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind art, jewelry, ceramics, sculptures, paintings, mosaics, garments and more. Enjoy local music, live art demos and participate in free public arts workshops.
Also new, the Culver Center will feature a unique art exhibit and holiday movie series. Festival-goers of all ages will enjoy funky, brightly LED lit sculptures featuring life-size Unsustainable Creatures made from recycled and re-purposed plastic containers and objects. Holiday movie showings begin on November 29 with The Polar Express. A new feature will run every Thursday through January 3 as follows: Miracle on 34th Street (Dec 6), White Christmas (Dec 13), Nightmare Before Christmas (Dec 20), Brazil (Dec 27), and It’s a Wonderful Life (Jan 3). All movies begin at 7 p.m. and cost $5. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at www.culvercenter.edu.edu/film.
Tens of thousands of people gather every year on the day after Thanksgiving to witness the lighting of more than 3 million individual lights and the accompanying fireworks. The Festival of Lights will continue daily until Jan. 5, 2013. More information is available at www.RiversideFestivalofLights.com.
Plenty of parking is available. Avoid construction traffic and access downtown Riverside off the 60 Freeway at Market Street or the 91 Freeway at Mission Inn Avenue or University Avenue. For a map showing downtown parking areas, click here.