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: 


Shows and Performances


Opportunities to Share

Safe Celebration


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 pre-cut firs are shipped in from Oregon.

Holidays Around the Globe Baking Class: The Holidays Around the Globe baking class 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 5–7:30 p.m., December 6–15, so there are plenty of options from which to choose. 

A Christmas Story 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 21 will feature A Christmas Story movie theme. (Don’t worry: We won’t make you translate the rest of these details in your secret Ovaltine decoder ring.) The event will be held at the W at Worthington’s in Riverside. So grab a drink or two while you paint, but be careful in case the Bumpuses’ dogs somehow get loose. We wouldn’t want them to bum rush your easel. (Electric leg lamp not included.)

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 26 to December 23.

Shows and Performances

Riverside Philharmonic Holiday Concerts: The Riverside Philharmonic presents two main holiday concerts and a family-friendly (shorter and no intermission) performance as well. Patrons can expect traditional favorites such as the main march from The Nutcracker, the “March of Toys” from Babes in Toyland, and Robert Wendel’s “Hanukkah Overture.” The second half of the show features sacred music with a local student chorale, followed by a guaranteed crowd-pleasing singalong of Christmas carols. Main performances are December 4 at 7:30 p.m. and December 5 at 2 p.m. The family-friendly performance will be held on December 4 at 2 p.m. All performances will be held at The Box at Fox Entertainment Plaza.

Disney On Ice Presents Dream Big: The annual Disney On Ice extravaganza glides into the Inland Empire for 10 shows in six days, December 22–27. 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, going down at Toyota Arena in Ontario, will feature skating appearances by the likes of Mickey, Minnie, Miguel, Moana, and several characters whose names do not begin with the letter M, such as Elsa, Belle, and more. 

Celebrate Christmas 2021 with Natalie Grant and Danny Gokey: Natalie Grant, an eight-time Grammy nominee, and Danny Gokey, a top-three finalist on Season 8 of American Idol, are sharing the stage on the Celebrate Christmas 2021 tour, coming to Riverside’s Fox Performing Arts Center on December 12. 

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve and Other Stories”: If you have never experienced the full-sensory assault of a Trans-Siberian 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 4 at Toyota Arena: one at 3:30 p.m. and another at 7:30. This year’s show celebrates the 25th anniversary of “Christmas Eve and Other Stories.” 

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 Riverside on December 12 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Fox Performing Arts Center.


Holiday Marketplace: The Holiday Marketplace, now in its 33rd year, will feature the work of 55 specially selected artisans and crafters. The marketplace, held indoors, will be at The Grove Community Church (19900 Grove Community Drive, Riverside) on November 5–6. Admission is free.

Sugar Plum Arts and Crafts Festivals: This festival is a unique shopping event offering clothing, jewelry, homemade crafts, holiday and home decor, food items, and fine arts by more than 150 vendors. The festival runs for five days, so find the right time to hustle and bustle your way to downtown Buena Park and get some early shopping out of the way.

Thanksgiving Virtual Holiday Market: Feel like staying in? This virtual holiday sale will feature plenty of gifts in areas of jewelry, bath and body, home decor, and more. The sale runs November 14–19 at www.chiceventsdc-virtualmarketplace.com

Opportunities to Share

Thanks + Giving Pop Up Shop: There’s a full day of family fun on tap, and it’s all yours for the cost of admission: a can of nonperishable food, which will help the less fortunate in the area. There will be vendors, games, performances, and family fun from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Adams Motorsports Park. 

Bonnes Meres Auxiliary Annual Auction: The annual Bonnes Meres auction—titled “A Thrill of Hope”—kicks off the holiday season with a luncheon, live and silent auctions, and a drawing for prizes. This year’s event will be held at the Redlands Country Club from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For further information, email BonnesMeres@gmail.com.

Christmas Drive-Thru Toy Drive: Take a ride to San Bernardino and help out underprivileged children via the Christmas Drive-Thru Toy Drive. Sponsored by A Light of Hope Zaragoza Enterprises, in conjunction with CPR Training Center and California Live Scan 4 All, the toy drive will take place on December 4–5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 696 N. D Street, San Bernardino. Simply bring a wrapped present—such as toys, sports equipment, puzzles, books, art supplies, etc.—which will go to benefit children in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

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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