Mayor's Office

International Relations

International Relations and Riverside’s Sister City Programs

The U.S. Sister City program officially began in 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed a people-to-people, citizen diplomacy initiative.  Riverside, however, was ahead of its time, having already developed one of the nation’s oldest Sister City relationships with Sendai, Japan (begun in 1957). Since then Riverside has led the way in programs that foster friendship, understanding, and encourage trade and tourism. Today, urban cities like Riverside, given their economic and human capital and their smaller, nimble governments, are well-positioned to form international partnerships that will result in shared benefits across the globe. 

The Office of the Mayor is happy to welcome dignitaries from a variety of international locations who seek to establish relationships, identify economic opportunities and provide cultural enrichment to our community.  Whether it is laying the groundwork for business expansion by international companies, such as SolarMax and SunSpark Technology, or facilitating a visit by our John W. North High School Marching Band to Jiangmen, China, the Mayor’s Office is ready to assist.

The Festival of Lights, named “America’s Best Public Lights Display” by USA Today, was inspired by a sister city visit to Sendai, Japan, where the Riverside delegation participated in Sendai’s Starlight Pageant. Since then our Festival of Lights has generated close to $130,000,000 in economic impact to our community. Another signature event, Riverside’s Long Night of Arts and Innovation, was inspired by the Long Night of Science in our sister city of Erlangen, Germany.  We have many art-exchange programs with our sister cities, as well,  including gifting Sendai with a Giant Orange, created by the Riverside Art Museum Art Alliance and Riverside artists Greg and Cathy Maxwell. These are just some of the ways Riverside benefits from our international relations programs.

Mayor Lock Dawson is pleased to work hand-in-hand with the International Relations Council to continue to strengthen international relationships with our nine sister cities, and indeed, around the world.