April 12, 2024

The Festival of Lights, an annual event in Riverside from November to January, has made some big changes to the festivities this year because of budget cuts.

For 24 years, the Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa has brought the holiday spirit and entertained guests from surrounding areas. The event features a huge Christmas tree, lights covering the exterior, horse carriage rides and “snow.” Unfortunately, this year the iconic ice rink  has been taken out of the annual festival.

Meghan Eastin, project coordinator of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, said the ice rink had been around for the past 10 years. It will be leaving this year but will be returning next year.

“There is a major construction project taking place on Main Street where the ice rink was originally located,” Eastin said. “That meant there would need to be a new location for the ice rink, and for this year it was a budgetary decision not to have the ice rink in a
temporary location.”

The festival will have new attractions, including a carousel, century wheel and train to take the place of the ice rink this year because the cost of temporarily relocating the rink could have cost up to an additional $300,000 on top of regular rental prices.

City of Riverside

“People love ice rinks, whether they skate themselves or are there to watch others,” Eastin said. “This is a time of expansion for the event and the new attraction will bring a fresh change while we wait for the ice rink to return for the 25th anniversary next year.”

Adrien Deloffre, junior business administration major, said the festival is beautiful and is an amazing experience to enjoy.

“The Mission Inn is covered in lights as well as the palm trees and other buildings,” Deloffre said. “There are also fireworks that make you feel like you are in another world. All of this mix of lights enlightens you.”

He also said the ice rink was a good idea and he is sad they removed it, but he understands why budgetary restrictions would cause them to take it out.

“It was fun to see others ice skating and having fun,” Deloffre said.

Knox Brown, sophomore business administration major, said he has never been on the skating rink but a lot of people liked it and he wanted to at least try it once.

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