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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Graham

Mission Inn Riverside Festival of Lights | Photowalk

The city of Riverside, California is famous for primarily two things: the birth of the navel orange and a massive light show that happens every December.

The show is called the “Festival of Lights,” and it’s put on by the historic Mission Inn, which actually has several claims to fame: presidents Roosevelt, Taft, Hoover, Nixon, Reagan and Bush Jr have visited, and they are celebrated in a “Presidential Lounge,” that is the centerpiece of the hotel.

Plus, the establishment is a historic masterpiece.

Photowalk Riverside

The historic Mission Inn during the Festival of Lights, from the Riverside Photowalk.

Twenty-seven years of a massive light show celebrating Christmas (not Hanukah, sorry Jewish friends) attracts some 500,000 visits yearly, for the month of December, closing on January 6th. Highlights include angels, elves and Dickens carolers, Santa Claus types and more lights than you’ll see in Las Vegas.

For my recent Photowalk of the show, I was joined by a local, Josh McNair, who runs the fabulous California Through My Lens website and YouTube channel. Love your job?

Well consider this: Josh and wife Amy spend much of the month traveling all over the state, driving up and down the Pacific Coast Highway, hiking the redwoods and desert parks and taking fabulous photos. If you have a question about anywhere in the state, odds are Josh has answered it on the web. He’s a full-time YouTuber, and you’ll get to know him a little better when I post here our fascinating sit-down (on the local museum steps,) as we awaited the lights to turn on across the street at 5 p.m. Stay tuned for that one.

Another Riverside highlight was exploring the rest of the city, from Mt. Rubidoux to the orange groves below, with my longtime pal Scott Heath and my new pal Steve Brazill. Look for that #Photowalk video, part 2 from Riverside, in January. (Steve is the host of the Behind the Shot video and audio series on YouTube. Be sure to check him out.)


The lights and oranges of Riverside during the Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn, from the Riverside Photowalk

Photowalk Riverside

Josh McNair, from the California Through My Lens website, poses at the Mission Inn during the Festival of Lights festival. From the Festival of Lights Photowalk with Jefferson Graham


The wall of presidents who have visited or stayed at the Mission Inn in Riverside line the walls of the Presidential Lounge at the historic hotel.


The lights of Riverside at Mission Inn

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