Festival of Lights adapts to COVID-19

David de Jesus | Banner | A sign within the lobby lets guests who will be staying at the historical hotel know that lights are being put up to brighten the atmosphere around Mission Inn.

The Mission Inn’s annual Festival of Lights event will occur this year from Nov. 26 to Jan. 6. However, due to COVID-19 and county mandates some normal components of the event will be modified.

According to a press release from Riverside County, the event will largely mirror the format for the adapted Festival of Lights first presented last year. 

The largest change in the event is the cancellation of the normally populous switch-on ceremony.

“The 2020 Festival of Lights will be limited to socially-distanced light displays and decor,” the release said. “There will not be a switch-on ceremony and no vendors, attractions or programming during the event. While we encourage individuals to take in the lights of the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa and the downtown light displays produced by the City, we ask that you do so following all current State and County mandated protocols.”

The press release also detailed some of the light displays that can be expected in this year’s event, as well as the possibility of decorations extending all the way to Main Street.

“(It) will continue to feature the traditional lights and decorations at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, as well as City-sponsored holiday décor in the surrounding areas, including holiday-themed selfie stations, holiday trees, large ornaments, a sleigh, bows and garland on lights and bridges and an assortment of holiday light displays,” Duane and Kelly Roberts said. 

In a press release from the Mission Inn, owners Duane and Kelly Roberts expressed their joy to continually be able to host this iconic event.

“This time of year represents so many important things to many people,” Duane and Kelly Roberts said. “You, your family and friends make this event so special for all of us here at The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. As Keepers of The Inn, we are most humbled by your presence and we are excited that you are now a part of The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa’s Festival of Lights extravaganza.”

Lilliane Vargas, sophomore music studio production major, reflected on her nostalgia for the event, after attending it for several years.

“I remember going to the Festival of Lights since I was little. Going to the Festival of Lights is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season, every year it has grown bigger and bigger,” Vargas said. “It has had a special place in my heart growing up especially when I had the opportunity to go to school there in downtown Riverside. I got to see all the behind-the-scenes and the work it took to make it all happen.”

Vargas also shared her excitement for this year’s event, despite the continuation and restrictions of COVID-19 protocols.

“I am most excited to see how much more they grow this year,” Vargas said. “Every year I feel like there’s a new edition or surprise to the Festival of Lights.”

More detailed information is expected to be released as the event draws closer.

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