October 27, 2012

31 Trips In Cali, Day 18: Mission Inn Festival of Lights

I'm on Day 18 of the Nester's 31 Day series, which means that if I'd kept up with posting daily, I'd be wrapping it up in 4 days.  But since I'm a bad blogger, (or at least a bad daily blogger), I'll be wrapping up in December at the rate I'm going.  Kidding! 

Speaking of December, let's head out to Riverside and get in the Christmas spirit, since Target and other big retailers are totally ready for us to be in the holiday mood.  The Festival of Lights takes place every holiday season at the beautiful Mission Inn hotel in downtown Riverside.  (Riverside is a good-sized city and the county seat; with traffic, it's about 45 minutes east of Los Angeles.)

For the Festival of Lights, the Inn, which is a National Historic Landmark and stretches for an entire city block, decks out the grounds and facade with millions of lights and the outdoor balconies with animatronic figures.

Here's the lowdown from the Mission Inn's website:
Allow yourself to be swept away by more than 3.6 million+ brilliant lights transforming Riverside's historic hotel into pure magic. The annual festival begins the day after Thanksgiving, on Friday, November 23rd with a celebratory lighting ceremony featuring a full fireworks display, and continues through Saturday, January 5th.  With live entertainment, seasonal touches throughout, including horse-drawn carriage rides, freshly fallen snow and special appearances by Santa Claus, Festival of Lights is a beloved Southern California tradition not to be missed.
Ooh, doesn't that sound like fun? Reading that makes me want to throw on my Johnny Mathis Christmas CDs and start decorating the house. (Well, almost. Let's just get through Halloween, first.)
If you visit the Festival of Lights  on the weekend, like my family did, know that it'll be busy, with throngs of people milling about, taking and posing for photos, and just enjoying all the decorations.  There is a line, which helps to keep the crowd organized, and it winds through the front garden and takes you indoors for a bit, into the tony and warm bar and lobby.   The downtown area near the hotel has lots of fun going on, too. When we were there, there was a live band, an ice-skating rink, and a little shop selling goodies.
Ice-skating rink
We also ate a quick dinner at possibly the most festive & decorated pizza shop I've ever encountered:
This was a fun evening, and even though I'm not at all ready for Christmas to really hit my house, I'm kind of in the mood to be back here, soaking up the lights and spirit and fun of the season. I mean, any night that includes pizza, hot cocoa, cupcakes (and funnel cake for the boy) has got to be a good one.

Thanks for coming along! Come back for Day 19 of my 31 Trips in California series, when we'll continue the winter theme and visit some epic snow in an epic setting.

Don't miss a single trip: Head over to Day 1 for all the links, or Like me on Facebook. 

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