Mission Inn Festival of Lights Gives Riverside Notoriety and Prosperity
Riverside’s Festival of Lights has won recognition as the #1 Holiday Lights Festival in the nation. The festival has been a wonderful success garnering the City of Riverside both notoriety and economic prosperity.
Congratulations to the City of Riverside and the Mission Inn Festival of Lights for winning first place for our impressive holiday lights display. We love talking about the quality of life that we have here in Riverside, there is so much to enjoy. Living in the City of Arts and Innovation we’re always able to enjoy fabulous weather, performances, events, and dining experiences. This time of year is no exception. This year’s Festival of Lights has the same bright lights and adorable figurines of the past as well as a few new displays. For the past 23 years, Riverside locals have been in on our Festival “secret” and have always known how wonderful this free winter event is. Where else in the Inland Empire can you find an ice rink in the middle of the city’s downtown pedestrian mall. But now, for the second year in a row we are getting national recognition, which is putting Riverside on the map.
In 2014, the Mission Inn’s Festival of Lights won the USA Today Reader’s Choice award for the Best Public Lights Display in the nation. The Festival, which was started in 1993 by the Mission Inn’s current owner Duane Roberts, has become a local tradition for residents and tourists alike. This year’s opening day lighting ceremony crowd was estimated at over 78,000 people. You may be asking yourself, how do crowds of 78,000 and downtown street closures equal a positive impact on our quality of life in Riverside? You’re right, the added traffic and crowds might not add to our quality of life as we try to get from point A to point B downtown. However, the overall positive economic impact of the Mission Inn’s Festival of Lights is incredible. Duane Roberts’ goal when he started the Festival was to find a way to attract guests to the Mission Inn. At the time, Riverside’s downtown corridor was ailing and the city welcomed the idea of a winter festival that would bring visitors to town during our slow season. I don’t know if they ever dared to dream that their idea would become the successful event it is today. But, the Festival of Lights has proven to be a highly successful endeavor, occupancy at the Mission Inn has gone from 80–85 percent in early 2010 to a current occupancy during the Festival at 96 percent, with many visitors staying for more than a just a few nights.
When people are drawn here by the Festival of Lights, they not only come to view the lights, they also end up spending money in our shops, restaurants, and hotels. When the local economy prospers, so do the residents of the area. By supporting our local businesses, we are making our city a better place to enjoy. During the run of the Festival, there is an impact of over $47 million dollars in induced, direct, and indirect monies combined that comes flowing into Riverside. This figure has more than doubled since 2010 when the revenue was around $20 million. We are fortunate that Riverside has found a successful venue to bring more notoriety and revenue to our region. Not only is it a successful and fun event, it is also another feather in our cap showing the area as an up and coming destination in Southern California.