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Lighting up Riverside: Mission Inn’s Festival of Lights returns with a dazzling twist

‘Rain or shine,’ the festival is kicking off the holiday season one week earlier than usual this Saturday at 5:00 p.m.

Rain clouds loom over the final preparations for Satruday's Festival of Lights' Switch-on Ceremony.

As Riverside gears up for the holiday season, the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa’s renowned Festival of Lights is set to light up Riverside for the holidays on November 18, 2023, starting at 5:00 p.m. The switch-on ceremony, which activates over 10 million lights, transforms downtown Riverside into a holiday wonderland which drew a crowd of over 50,000 last year.

Breaking from tradition, this year’s Festival brings an early start to the festivities with the Switch-On Ceremony scheduled a week ahead of previous years.

The corner of Orange Street and Mission Inn Avenue will come alive as special guest Cheech Marin joins the Keepers of the Inn, Duane and Kelly Roberts, in a celebration like no other. “We are so honored to once again for the 31st year in a row host the annual Festival of Lights at our Mission Inn Hotel and Spa,” said Kelly and Duane Roberts, Keepers of the Inn. “We are thrilled that this year we will be joined by special guest Cheech Marin along with an amazing lineup of performances and are so thrilled to provide this for the great people of Riverside.” 

The night’s entertainment features a star-studded lineup, including performances by Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray and Friends, Skip Martin of Dazz Band, and the former lead singer of Kool & The Gang. A fireworks display will follow the musical spectacle, adding an extra layer of magic to the evening.

Riversiders can immerse themselves in the holiday spirit with giant holiday decorations along Main St, visits with Santa Claus, and the return of an ice-skating rink in the parking lot of The Cheech.

The Artisans Collective and community entertainment will relocate to White Park from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. Refer to the City’s Festival of Lights website for a detailed holiday entertainment and music schedule.

The Switch-On Ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, November 18, 2023, from 4:30 to 10:00 p.m., with the actual switch-on moment happening at 5:00 p.m. The light displays, holiday décor, and festival will continue through December 31, 2023. Event parking is available for $10, which can be prepaid using the ParkRiverside app or at