Visiting the Festival of Lights in Riverside California

For over 25 years The Mission Inn’s Festival of Lights has been wowing visitors of all ages.  Located in Riverside California, The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa goes all out every holiday season.  Transforming its exterior into a holiday light show that is visited by more than 500,000 people over the course of its 6-week run.

This years candy-inspired theme uses more than 5 million Christmas lights.

Things to do at the Festival of Lights

In addition to The decorations at The Mission Inn, the streets surrounding the hotel have been closed down and filled with small family-friendly attractions.

Their isn’t a crazy amount of stuff to do, but you’ll find plenty of live music, food, and rides throughout the Festival area.  A unique thing you can do at the Festival Of Lights is get pulled around in the horse-drawn carriage.  Usually, we wouldn’t think of it as a big deal.  But the carriages are covered in Christmas lights and resemble the pumpkin carriage from the movie Cinderella.  All the kids riding inside looked like they are having a blast.

festival of lights
Festival of Lights

Our Experience

We had a good time,  but it was busy.  We ended up having to wait over an hour to get in and see The Mission Inn lights.  The actual walk through was extremely fast.  Only took about a minute.  So when we unceremoniously stumbled out the side, we were shocked that it was already over.

If you and your family are planning to go, I suggest going during a weekday, or when it’s not busy so you can enjoy the lights without the security guards herding you through so quickly.

Official resources

Some Helpful Information

Festival of Lights Map

If you’re curious about the Festival’s layout, you can view a printable map at the link below.

Festival of Lights Map

I wish I would have seen that map before we visited.  We completely missed out on the Christmas tree, thinking we had already seen everything.

Directions & Parking

Here’s the address

3649 Mission Avenue Riverside CA 92501

We visited at 6 pm on a Saturday.  The place was packed.  Not having seen the parking map linked below. We drove around for about 20 minutes before we found a spot.

Festival of Lights Parking Map

If you and your family are planning to go during peak hours, you may want to consider taking the metro.  It’s cheap and will drop you off relatively close to everything.

Hours & Dates

The Hours of the festival change a lot between days.

11/25/2017 – 12/23/2017

  • Monday-Thursday = 5 pm-10 pm
  • Friday = 5 pm to 11 pm
  • Saturday = 3  to 11 pm
  • Sunday = 3 pm to 10 pm


  • 3 pm to 9 pm


  • Closed

12/26/2017 – 01/06/2018

  • Everyday = 3 pm to 11


We think The Mission Inn’s Festival of Lights is an excellent event for nearby residents.  But the number of things to do may not be enough to justify residents of Los Angeles and Orange County to visit.

Oh and thanks for reading this far into the post.  I know this event is a seasonal one, but there are plenty of other fun things you can do year-round in Riverside County.  Our current favorite is The March Field Air Museum in Moreno Valley.  You can also find plenty of other great locals spots on the rest of our site.

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What a fun adventure! I love those lights, and it looks like you really had fun!

Yeah it was fun. The line to see the lights was a little extreme for my taste but our kiddo loved it 🙂

Oh wow I bet this is amazing, I love going light hunting at Christmas and this sounds like something I would really enjoy.

It was impressive. Outside of Disneyland I don’t think we’ve ever seen a place more impressive when it comes to Christmas decorations.

How Beautiful! I love events like this! Happy Holidays!

xoxo Christie

Thank you. Happy holidays to you as well 🙂

Hey! Great post! The Festival sounds like quite an adventure.

Thanks. The crowd definitely made it an adventure. I think next time we’ll have to visit on a week night 🙂

Thank you for sharing this post!! My parents live in Riverside county and in all the years I’ve visited I’ve only been here once. Learning that almost half a million people visit the place every Christmas is amazing.. I have to make the trip there more often! This is a great post. More people should know about the Festival of Lights in Riverside!

Jessica CK || Cubicle Chic

For real. Before going we had know idea it was such a popular event. The place as packed. The mission Inn did a great job.

This is very nice festival. I wish I had one of these where I lived.

We were surprised to learn this happens near us as well. Most places in California don’t even put up lights anymore.

This looks like a perfect activity for the holidays. I have done a couple light shows like this, but none this extensive.
Cheers, Sarah Camille //

Yeah it was really nice. Didn’t expect to find such a big holiday celebration out in Riverside County. Normally we would have to drive in towards Los Angeles for something like this.

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