The Mission Inn Celebrates 25th Anniversary of the Festival of Lights

The Mission Inn Celebrates 25th Anniversary of the Festival of Lights
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the annual tradition that is a gift from owners Duane and Kelly Roberts, Keepers of the Inn, who saved the historic hotel from destruction in 1992.

The beloved Southern California tradition creates a magical experience in the heart of Riverside and attracts more than 250,000 visitors from all over the world each year, commencing with the famous “Switch-On” Ceremony, a spectacular event in which the hotel is instantly illuminated followed by a full fireworks display. Providing over 200 jobs each year to Riverside residents and drawing in over $42 million of revenue to the city’s businesses, The Festival of Lights has impacted the local economy and spirit of the community.

Highlights of the Festival of Lights include a record-breaking 5 million colorful lights, 200 animated figures including angels, elves and Dickens carolers; appearances by Santa Claus; the world’s largest man-made mistletoe measuring 12’x8’; horse-drawn carriage rides; elf tuck-ins; and new additions this season include the “Candy Stroll” along the main walkway of the hotel featuring candy décor, canopy lights, candy themed window displays and Santa’s workshop. Towering through the sky will be a 30-ft multicolor pixelated tree showcasing a four-minute lights show with music.

In celebration of the milestone and the Roberts’ impact on the local community throughout the past 25 years, the Keepers of the Inn will be honored with a float of their beloved hotel at the 2018 Rose Parade in Pasadena, sponsored by the city of Riverside.

Festival of Lights Switch-On Ceremony

This year’s highly anticipated Switch-On Ceremony will take place on Friday, November 24 beginning at 5pm. Traditionally each year, the Roberts along with their daughter, Casey Brown, start the countdown and “flip the switch” to light the hotel. This year, in honor of the 25th anniversary, Casey is passing down the honor to her one-year old daughter, Kensington Kelly who “flip the switch” where the entire hotel will be illuminated with 5 million lights, followed by a four-minute long firework show and other over-the-top experiences to be revealed that night.

Gingerbread Display of the Inn

For display in the lobby, Executive Pastry Chef David Blaine will showcase a detailed large-scale replica of The Mission Inn Hotel, constructed over 10 weeks using 500 pounds of gingerbread, icing, and candy. The model will include iconic features of the hotel, such as the Ho-O-Kan Room with the Amitabha Buddha, and the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel with Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows.

Holiday Traditions & Culinary Delights

Additionally, this year, The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa will be offering a range of culinary delights in honor of the Festival of Lights. Offerings include seasonal dishes at each of the Inn’s distinguished restaurants, to festive cocktails, to Sweet Snowman cupcakes at Casey’s Cupcakes. Throughout the season, The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa creates immersive holiday experiences honoring the 25th anniversary, such as:

  • A Santa Letter Drop Box for children to send Santa letters via express mail.

  • The “Sweet Dreams” Suite is the candy-themed suite that will delight guests of all ages. Decked with sweet holiday trimmings including fully decorated candy-themed tree, hanging stockings, lights, candy decor. The two-night suite experience is complete with a turndown amenity for four accompanied by hot cocoa & Four Sweet Snowman Casey’s Cupcakes, and a $200 dining credit. Rates begin at $1,400.

  • Elf Tuck In (November 26 through December 26) featuring a resident elf that delivers a small, present-filled stocking to children and tucks kids into bed with a bedtime story. The experience includes a keepsake book of "How to Catch an Elf" and a delicious Sweet Snowman Casey's Cupcake, for $50 per child. (Elf hours are available between 7– 10 p.m.).

  • Breakfast with Santa (Saturday, December 2nd and 16th) the hotel will host an elegant breakfast buffet with Santa and his friends from the Inland Pacific Ballet’s The Nutcracker for a special performance. Adults: $39; Children (ages 3-11) $24 per person.

  • Sunday Champagne Brunch with Santa (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., November 26 – December 17), features a mimosa brunch buffet with carved meats, a seafood station, and assorted sweets. Adults: $46; Children (age 5-11): $23 per person.

  • Holiday Champagne Brunch (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve & Christmas Day) Thursday, November 23, Sunday, December 24 & Monday, December 25 (9am-2:30pm). Adults: $69.50; Children (ages 5-11) $29 per person.

  • Holiday Dinner Buffet will be featured in The Mission Inn Restaurant every evening from Friday, November 24 to Sunday, January 7 (4pm-10pm). Adults: $42; Children (ages 5-11) $18 per person.

Festive Treat-Inspired Spa Indulgence

Rejuvenate body and mind with the sweet and spiced aroma of holiday-inspired scrubs, massages, and more at the Tuscany-inspired Kelly’s Spa.

  • The “Decadent Delights” offer three flavored treatments: Mint Chocolate Bliss, Caramel Hot Chocolate Indulgence, or the Vanilla Chai Latte Delight. Each treatment includes a full body exfoliating polish, followed by a hydrating body wrap and full body massage (110 minutes/$240 per person).

  • Peppermint Mocha Mani & Pedi for a true holiday-inspired delight begins with a soothing peppermint swirl scrub, followed by a chocolate decadence wrap, and a cocoa butter massage for a rejuvenating finish (90 minutes / $135 per person).

Festival of Lights Merchandise

Official Festival of Lights Merchandise will be available for purchase in the retail booth located at the corner of Mission Inn Avenue and Main Street as well as Kelly’s Boutique. Both offering an assortment of merchandise to celebrate the holiday spirit. The variety of items for sale include t-shirts, sweatshirts, beanies, and Christmas ornaments.

Originally opened in 1903, The AAA Four Diamond, Historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa incorporates design elements throughout the southwestern United States, Mexico and several Mediterranean countries. A AAA Four Diamond property, the hotel features 238 recently renovated guest rooms, including 27 suites and 4 restaurants: Duane’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, a AAA Four Diamond restaurant and Wine Spectator’s 2016 “Best of Award of Excellence” for 20 consecutive years; Bella Trattoria Italian Bistro; Las Campanas Mexican Cuisine & Cantina; and The Mission Inn Restaurant and Spanish Patio. The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa also features 54° at Duane’s, Casey’s Cupcakes, and The Presidential Lounge. The hotel is a recipient of the 2016 Historic Hotel Awards of Excellence and placed second in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards’ “Top Hotels in Southern California” category.

In addition, the hotel offers a serene swimming pool and Jacuzzi surrounded by lush gardens; a fitness center; a historic museum; Kelly’s Spa, a luxurious Tuscan-inspired spa founded by visionary Kelly Roberts who also serves as COO of The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, a National Historic Landmark. The historic hotel is situated on an entire city block of the quaint Mission Inn District of Riverside, CA., features Mission-Revival style architecture inspired by the state’s 21 missions, and is home to a one-of-a-kind art collection. For more information or reservations, please call 1-800-843-7755 or visit

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