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Archives for December 2013

Mission Inn Riverside: Land of 4 Million Lights

The annual "Festival of Lights" at the historic Mission Inn in Riverside is a holiday tradition for many people. The inn is decked with more than 4 million colorful lights!

The annual “Festival of Lights” at the Mission Inn in Riverside is a holiday tradition. The historic inn is decked with more than 4 million colorful lights!

Looking for a fun & festive place to bring the family over the holidays? Visit the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in downtown Riverside. This time of year the historic inn, which resembles a Medieval castle, is decked out with an array of holiday displays illuminated with more than four million colorful lights!

The annual Festival of Lights is a holiday tradition for many families, who come from all across Southern California to ooh-and-ah at all of the colorful lights and beautiful decorations. A tall Christmas tree lights up the wood-paneled lobby not far from wall portraits of several US presidents, all visitors to the historic Mission Inn over the years.

Outside, the gardens at this national historic landmark feature an array of holiday displays, showing elves at work, or children from around the world celebrating the holidays. Santa Claus is on site, happily taking toy orders for kids of all ages.

Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn Riverside

The annual Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn in Riverside is a holiday tradition. The historic inn is decked with more than 4 million colorful lights! (Photos Traffic411)

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The Christmas tree at the Mission Inn is so giant - it wouldn't fit in a single photo! (Photo Traffic411)
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Festive bears welcome visitors to the historic Mission Inn in Riverside during the 21st Annual Festival of Lights. (Photo Traffic411)
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Portraits of several US presidents who have visited the Mission Inn adorn the wood paneled walls in the lobby. (Photo Traffic411)
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This elf gets ready to shoot a cannonball at visitors in the garden of the Mission Inn in Riverside. There is something magical about these little dolls, they seem almost real! (Photo Traffic411)
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The historic Mission Inn in Riverside's Festival of Lights is a holiday tradition for many families. (Photo Traffic411)
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View of the courtyard at the historic Mission Inn in Riverside, which opened in 1876 as a two story adobe guest house. (Photo Traffic411)

The colorful lights are most spectacular at night, but there is a lot to see in the daytime. I visited for their decadently delicious (and apparently famous) Sunday champagne brunch, and the inn was crowded with lookie-loos, but not nearly as crowded as it is at night. The 21st Annual Festival of Lights continues through January 5, 2014.

Traffic411 Insider’s Tip:  Take Amtrak or Metrolink to the Riverside-Downtown station. The Mission Inn is about a half mile (15 minute walk) away. Or, valet parking is available at the Inn, starting at $10.

Distance from LAX: 69 miles


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So Cal Parade of Lights

Celebrate the holidays California style at one of the many boat parades, from Newport Beach to Santa Barbara (Photo Traffic411).

Celebrate the holidays California style at one of the many boat parades, from Newport Beach to Santa Barbara (Photo Traffic411).

Celebrate the holidays California-style at one of the many colorful boat parades lighting up local harbors up and down the coast.  For more than 100 years, boaters have been decking their hulls (and bows and sterns) with colorful lights and fanciful decorations to dazzle viewers.  Spectators can enjoy the parade from the shore, a boat or inside one of the many bars or restaurants along the parade route.

So, bundle up and head for the coast as boaters compete for prizes and bragging rights. Whether you enjoy the parade from a harbor restaurant, on the shore or on a boat, bundle up and take in this Southern California holiday tradition.

  • Sunday, December 9th Santa Barbara Christmas Boat Parade: City Pier transforms into Santa’s Village winter wonderland. The Jolly Old Guy will feel right at home, he’s bringing 10 tons of snow for both the naughty and nice kids to enjoy. The parade begins at 5:30pm, followed by a fireworks display. This year’s theme is “Starry, Starry Night,” and with cold temperatures in So Cal, you should be able to see plenty of stars in the sky as well.
  • December 14th Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade: A fireworks display at 5:55pm kicks off this parade of lights. I am the ‘play by play’ announcer at this parade, announcing this year from Fisherman’s Village. This year’s theme is “Holiday Magic.”  L.A. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and NBA coach Phil Jackson are this year’s grand marshals.

Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade 2013

It's a holiday tradition that I've had the honor of hosting for more than a decade, the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. For the first time, my co-host Mickey Czegledy and I broadcast from Fisherman's Village. Thanks to Ken Pfeiffer for sharing these beautiful photos.

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Colorful boats sparkle in the harbor next to Fisherman's Village, all decked out for the 51st Annual Holiday Boat Parade. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Lisa Osborne & Mickey Czegledy announcing the boats in the 51st Annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. This is the first year we were at Fisherman's Village. Normally we announce the parade from Burton Chace Park. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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The Killer Shrimp (restaurant) boat (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Santa Monica Wind Jammers Yacht Club is usually a big winner at the parade. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Our friend Donna Leeds joins me and Mickey at the VIP party at Del Rey Yacht Club. It was fun to see this year's grand marshals, L.A. Lakers president Jeannie Buss and NBA Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson.
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That's a Wrap!! Thanks for the property managers at Fisherman's Village for hosting us while we announced the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. (l-r Debbie Talbot with LA County Beaches & Harbors, Lisa Osborne, Mickey Czegledy, former MDR Holiday Boat Parade president Diane Barretti (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

  • December 14th Channel Islands Harbor (Ventura County): Snow and an appearance by Mr & Mrs Santa Claus are part of a day of fun that starts at noon. The “Jingle Bell Rock” themed parade lights up the harbor at 7pm.
  • December 20-21st: Ventura Harbor’s parade lights up the harbor for two nights and features a fireworks display. This year’s theme is “Seaside Tinsel Town.”
  • December 18-22  Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree: In it’s 105th year, this parade is the granddaddy of them all, claiming it attracts more than 1 million viewers. Some boaters in this parade spend $70,000 or more (seriously!) decking their hulls for this five night extravaganza. I’ve been on the water during this parade, and the harbor is wall to wall boats of all sizes, you might even see a daring Santa or two on a stand up paddleboard! Check out these photos of winners from last year’s event!

 Traffic411 Insider Tip:  Dress warmly, in layers.  Even if temperatures don’t seem too cold, sitting along the water can feel cold and damp. If you are sensitive to cold, find a place indoors to view the parade (dinner reservations are a good idea to ensure the best spot).

I host the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. Beach Volleyball superstar Kerri Walsh     Jennings (right) was grand marshal of the 2012 parade.

I host the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. Beach Volleyball superstar Kerri Walsh Jennings (right) was grand marshal of the 2012 parade.

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