15 Great Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in Riverside, CA!

Bright, twinkling lights are beginning to appear throughout neighborhoods in Riverside, offering a not-so-subtle reminder that the holiday season is upon us once again.

One of the benefits of celebrating the holidays in Riverside is the temperate California winter. The mild SoCal weather means there are bountiful opportunities to participate in activities both outdoors and indoors without having to venture out all bundled up in suffocating winter suits—like little Ralphie in A Christmas Story.

No matter how you choose to mark the holiday season, there is a multitude of activities, performances, shopping opportunities, and more to make Riverside the place to be this time of year. Here are just 15 suggestions of things to do regional to Riverside: 

Activities

Shows and Performances

Shopping

Opportunities to Share

Safe Celebration

Activities

Wickerd Farm Christmas Trees: Pick out your favorite live tree in a safe and controlled environment by visiting Wickerd Farm in Menifee. Choose-and-cut Monterey pines are grown on site, and precut firs are shipped in from Oregon.

Special Holidays Treats Baking Class For Kids: The Special Holidays Treats Baking Class For Kids is designed to help children learn about goodies from around the world—and hopefully share their findings with the rest of the family! The classes, held at the Ysmael Villegas Community Center in Riverside, run 5:30–7:00 p.m. on December 5 and 12, so there are a couple of options from which to choose. 

“Christmas Vacation” In-Person Paint and Sip: The Paint Sesh team is putting on a series of holiday-themed painting activities, some in person and some strictly virtual. This one on December 22 is for the 21+ crowd, where attendees will learn to paint a vibrant Christmas tree on the beach. The event will be held at the Riverside Food Lab, allowing you to grab a bite to eat or holiday spirits from the wide selection of local restaurants.

Irvine Park Christmas Train: The Christmas Train will once again get on track at Irvine Regional Park in Orange this holiday season. Tickets for the train ride to the North Pole are only sold online, with patrons picking a specific date and time at the time of purchase. There are also plenty of things to do and experience in Santa’s Village, where entry is free but attractions are ticketed if you opt not to buy a ticket for the train ride to the North Pole. The park is open 4–9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.–9 p.m. on weekends from November 25 to December 23.

Shows and Performances

Riverside Philharmonic Holiday Concert: The Riverside Philharmonic presents its annual holiday concert at the Maxine Frost Performing Arts Center at Ramona High School on Saturday, December 10. Previous performances have featured traditional favorites such as the main march from The Nutcracker, the “March of Toys” from Babes in Toyland, and Robert Wendel’s “Hanukkah Overture,” as well as a crowd-pleasing singalong of Christmas carols, so get your tickets early to enjoy this popular holiday tradition.

Disney On Ice Road Trip Adventures: The annual Disney On Ice extravaganza glides into the Toyota Arena for 10 shows, December 22–26. There are even two shows on Christmas Day for those fond of springing a big surprise on family members (not to mention significant others). This year’s program will feature skating appearances by classical characters such as Mickey and Minnie, as well as other favorites from Aladdin, Moana, Frozen, The Lion King, Toy Story, and Mary Poppins. 

Celebrate Christmas 2022 with Phil Wickham and Anne Wilson: RIAA Gold-certified recording artist Phil Wickham is bringing his BEHOLD Christmas Nights tour with special guest singer/songwriter Anne Wilson to the Honda Center in nearby Anaheim on December 10. Get tickets early to usher in the Christmas season with these two chart-topping Christian artists.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “The Ghost of Christmas Eve: The Best of Tso and More”: If you have never experienced the full-sensory assault of a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert, then we can only ask, “What are you waiting for?” These shows—which, by the way, are suitable for the entire family—feature lasers, pyrotechnics, bombastic classical music performed as a rock spectacle, and tender narration and storytelling. There will be two shows on December 3 at Toyota Arena: one at 3:00 p.m. and another at 7:30.

Alton Brown Live: Beyond the Eats: This variety show will test the boundaries of good taste buds. Billed as a “culinary variety show,” Alton Brown will entertain via a multitude of mediums, including food, comedy, music, and just plain old-fashioned entertainment. Suitable for the whole family, Brown will be appearing in Costa Mesa on December 20 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Shopping

Holiday Market at Just 4 Kids Tree Farm: This annual holiday market will host more than 30 vendors featuring great gifts and tasty treats for everyone on your list. There’s even a gift wrap table so you can get all the holiday prep work done before you leave! Santa will be available for pictures, or kids can write him a letter and drop it in a special drop box. This community event, happening Saturday, December 3, 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., also doubles as an official drop-off location for the Spark of Love Toy Drive.

Sugar Plum Arts and Crafts Festivals: This holiday festival series is a unique shopping experience, offering clothing, jewelry, homemade crafts, holiday and home decor, food items, and fine arts by more than 150 vendors. Dates and events run throughout November and December at locations from the OC Fair & Event Center to Buena Park Downtown Mall.

50th Annual Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show: This family-owned-and-operated event features hundreds of artists offering one-of-a-kind items, including jewelry, clothes, art, hand-turned wood, glasswork, specialty foods, and more. The 50th-anniversary celebration runs December 2–4 in nearby Pomona.

Opportunities to Share

Create the Change Thanksgiving Food Donations: Hosted by Project Giving Kids, volunteers are invited to join PATH LA to sort donations, package food, and, if they would like, include thoughtful notes and cards for Thanksgiving distribution on Friday, November 18, at 340 North Madison Avenue in Los Angeles. This event is part of “Create the Change Week 2022,” happening November 13–19.

Bonnes Meres Quilt Program: This ongoing opportunity helps volunteers provide a symbol of comfort and compassion to abused children in San Bernardino County with a hand-tied fleece blanket. This act of kindness serves as an important reminder to these children that they matter, especially during the holiday season. For more information on assisting with this program, you can email Bonnes Meres Auxiliary Children’s Fund at BonnesMeres@gmail.com.

Spark of Love Toy Drive: Members of the Riverside Fire Department will be collecting toys at various community centers across the city to be distributed by PRCSD staff ahead of the holiday season. Registration begins on November 12, and toys will be distributed on December 19. To learn more, or to make a donation, visit fire.lacounty.gov/spark-of-love/ or contact the Youth Opportunity Center at (951) 826-2000.

Safe Celebration

While the holidays are hopefully a time of joy for you and your family, there are also extra hazards that come into play. We urge safety in both the use of lighted candles and live Christmas trees this year. Up to 7,500 fires are started each year because of household candles, so please take extra care. Consider using battery-powered candles or scented spray instead to address all your aroma needs while avoiding any inherent dangers. And if you do decide to use candles, please don’t leave them unattended.

Live Christmas trees, naturally, can create another fire hazard. If you’ve brought a real tree into your apartment for the holidays, take every precaution to keep it watered so it doesn’t dry out. Also, take care to keep all open flames away from the branches and make sure you turn all lights off when you’re not at home. Stay safe and enjoy the holidays!

With activities, performances, shopping opportunities, and more, Riverside, CA, is the place to be this time of year.

From all of us at The 3900 Apartments in Riverside, Happy Holidays!

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