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What Do Five Million Christmas Lights Look Like?

Riverside’s Mission Inn Resort & Spa kicks off its 25th Festival of Lights

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Posted 3 years ago

It’s been dubbed by USA Today as the best public holiday lights display in the U.S.—and indeed no one does holiday cheer quite like the Mission Inn Resort & Spa in Riverside.

The 1876 grande dame hotel in the Inland Empire, a registered National Historic California Landmark, just kicked off its annual Festival of Lights, the roughly six-week span when the hotel’s turrets, domes, and flying buttresses twinkle with a jaw-dropping five million lights (up from four in past years). Walk the grounds and you’ll see 200 animated figures (elves, angels, carolers), decorated Christmas trees, the world’s largest mistletoe (8-by-12 feet), and even live reindeer; this year’s festival also includes a Ferris Wheel and a carousel. Take a carriage ride, or stop in at the hotel’s Casey’s Cupcakes for seasonally decked-out sweets.

Certainly, you don’t have to be a hotel guest to wander through the hotel’s décor, but it’s pretty tempting to stay anyway (check the variety of packages, including bundled-in meals, sweets, spa credits, or a bottle of local Irvine & Roberts Vineyards wine). On weekends during December, you can have brunch with Santa (on Sunday, make it a Champagne brunch).

The Festival of Lights runs through Jan. 6—and a flowery depiction of the Festival will be in the Riverside-themed float at this New Year’s Day Rose Parade, reportedly for the first time since 1959.

Holiday lights superfans should also check out California other top twinklers, like Fresno’s Christmas Tree Lane and 10 fabulous California Holiday Boat Parades.

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