Christmas Extravaganza at The Mission Inn, California

We’re getting all decked out for the holidays here at Twist! We’re baking batches of gingerbread men and trimming the tree. And of course, we’re on the lookout for some of the most festive holiday extravaganzas in the United States. Out on the west coast, The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California, is pulling out all the stops for its 25th anniversary Festival of Lights show.

The historic Mission Inn will kick off the holiday season on Friday, November 24th with the Festival of Lights. This is a complimentary, six week long festivity featuring one of the nation’s largest holiday public light collections of its kind. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the annual tradition. It’s a gift from owners Duane and Kelly Roberts, who saved the historic hotel from destruction in 1992. The Festival is much more than a light show though, as amazing as that is. There is a wide variety of wonderful kid-friendly holiday activities for families to enjoy over the festive season.

Festival of Lights Holiday Extravaganza

Switch-On Ceremony
The magic begins on Friday, November 24th, beginning at 5 PM. At that moment, the entire hotel will be illuminated with 5 million lights, followed by a four-minute long firework show. Other over-the-top experiences will be revealed that night as well.

Elf Tuck In
What child wouldn’t thrill at being tucked into bed by an elf? From November 26th through December 26th, the Mission’s resident elf 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.” Kids will also get a delicious Sweet Snowman Casey’s Cupcake. (Extra charges apply. Elf hours are available between 7– 10 p.m.).

Santa Experiences 
The Mission hosts several events at which the man himself – Santa Claus – makes an appearance. At breakfast with Santa (Saturday, December 2nd and 16th), the hotel will host an elegant breakfast buffet. Santa will be joined by his friends from the Inland Pacific Ballet’s The Nutcracker for a special performance. For Sunday Champagne Brunch with Santa (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., November 26 – December 17), the Inn features a mimosa brunch buffet as well as hot and cold menu items. Small guests are encouraged to bring their special letter to drop into the Santa Letter Drop Box, where it will be mailed to the North Pole via express mail.

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.

Claudia Laroye is a travel writer and editor based in Vancouver, Canada. An avid and curious traveler, Claudia has written about family, adventure, and luxury experiences for local and national publications since 2010. Claudia has contributed to Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, Travelzoo, Westworld, Dreamscapes magazine, and is founder of family travel site The Travelling Mom.

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