Best Holiday Activities in Riverside, CA!

Ever since first hearing the cheery song “Over the River and Through the Woods,” we all likely thought it would be enchanting to ride a sleigh to some exotic, woodsy retreat to celebrate the holidays with our grandparents. The reality for most of us, however, is that we will be visiting family and relatives somewhere in suburbia.

Those living in, or at least planning to spend some time in, Riverside during November and December will probably not have to slip and slide through snow and icy conditions to get around. The Inland Empire boasts pretty nice weather most winters, falling right in line with Southern California’s temperate climate during the holidays.

Riverside and the surrounding area offer a plethora of activities and performances to help you get your holiday groove on this year. Read on for 15 favorite suggestions.

Activities

Shows and Performances

Shopping

Opportunities to Share

Safe Celebration

Activities

“Christmas Vacation” In-Person Paint and Sip: The Paint Sesh team is hosting a number of holiday-themed painting activities, some in person and some strictly virtual. While it’s not National Lampoon-based, their December 22 event is still for the 21+ crowd. Held at the Riverside Food lab, attendees will learn to paint a vibrant Christmas tree on the beach while enjoying a bite to eat (or some holiday spirits) from the wide selection of local eateries.

Special Holidays Treats Baking Class For Kids: What would the holidays be without some sweet treats? This class is designed to help children learn how to make some traditional goodies from around the world (and hopefully share with the rest of the family). Held at the Ysmael Villegas Community Center in Riverside, this class is being offered on December 5 and 12 from 5:30–7:00 p.m.

Wickerd Farm Christmas Trees: If you’ve ever seen the movie Christmas Vacation, you know what perils possibly await if you attempt to go rogue in your hunt for the perfect family tree. But if you still want a much-safer experience of picking out a live fresh tree and bringing it home, then take the family to Wickerd Farm in Menifee. Choose-and-cut Monterey Pines are grown on site, and pre-cut firs are shipped in from Oregon. 

Disneyland Festival of Holidays: The self-proclaimed “Happiest Place on Earth” is bringing back its annual Festival of Holidays November 11 through January 8 at the California Adventure Park. This multicultural event honors sights and sounds from around the world while recognizing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings Day. Other festivities throughout the park include a variety of holiday treats as part of the Festive Foods Marketplace and the “Season of Light” World of Color nighttime spectacular show.

Shows and Performances

Celebrate Christmas 2022 with Phil Wickham and Anne Wilson: Two Christian chart-topping artists are on the ticket for the BEHOLD Christmas Nights tour, happening at the Honda Center on December 10. Join RIAA Gold-certified recording artist Phil Wickhim with singer/songwriter Anne Wilson as they usher in the Christmas season.

Alton Brown Live: If you’re in search of the perfect recipe for a unique holiday experience, “Alton Brown Live: Beyond the Eats” may be the secret ingredient. Billed as a “culinary variety show,” Brown will entertain via a multitude of mediums, including food, comedy, music, and plain, old-fashioned entertainment. He will be appearing in Costa Mesa on December 20 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Disney On Ice: If you’re thinking about making a big pre- or post-Christmas splash at home, then Disney On Ice may provide the perfect opportunity to surprise your family. With 10 shows over six days (from December 22–26), this Disney ice-skating phenomenon affords plenty of flexibility for scheduling. There’s even a pair of shows on Christmas Day itself—you know, if you really want to be an all-star family gift-giver. (Disclaimer: Spouses might want to run the Christmas Day plans by their significant others before purchasing!) This year’s program will feature on-skate appearances by the likes of Mickey, Minnie, Moana, Mary Poppins, and many more. 

Riverside Philharmonic Holiday Concerts: A popular holiday tradition returns on Saturday, December 10 at the Maxine Frost Performing Arts Center at Ramona High School. This annual event has 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” in years past, as well as an audience-involved singalong of Christmas carols.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “The Ghost of Christmas Eve: The Best of Tso and More”: Full-scale aural and visual overload is on tap, and likely a few tugs at your heartstrings as well, as Trans-Siberian Orchestra brings its holiday feast of the senses to Toyota Arena in Ontario. Fans can expect all the usual embellishments of lasers, smoke, pyrotechnics, incredible lighting, sincere storytelling, and rocked-up classical music, suitable for the whole family. If you’ve never caught any of the band’s extravagant holiday tours, you owe it to yourselves to give it a try. There will be two shows on December 3 at Toyota Arena: one at 3:00 p.m. and another at 7:30.

Shopping

Holiday Market at Just 4 Kids Tree Farm: Have you ever wanted to get your holiday shopping and gift wrapping done all at once? Visit this annual market featuring more than 30 vendors that also has a wrapping station so you can leave with all the holiday prep work done on Saturday, December 3! Kids can write Santa a letter, or get a photo with the man himself if they don’t want to wait. This community event also serves as an official drop off location for the Spark of Love Toy Drive.

Sugar Plum Arts and Crafts Festivals: For those who want to get a jump on their holiday shopping, these events are happening all throughout November and December at locations from the OC Fair & Event Center to Buena Park Downtown Mall. Featuring clothing, jewelry, homemade crafts, holiday and home decor, food items, and fine arts by more than 150 vendors, they are sure to be a unique shopping experience.

The 51st Annual Golden Candy Caneland and Craft Faire: The Ehlers Event Center is home to this special event, sponsored by the Buena Park Community Services Department. There will be food and craft booths, games, snow slides, and a visit from a jolly, bearded, overly enthusiastic, red outfit-wearing gentleman claiming to come from a northerly pole—if you catch our drift—to hold court with the kids on Saturday, December 3. Be sure to check out the popular Holidays Around the World cultural booths as well.

Opportunities to Share

Bonnes Meres Quilt Program: You can provide a symbol of comfort and compassion to abused children in San Bernardino County this holiday season by providing them with a hand-tied fleece blanket. This simple act of kindness not only provides them with a gift, but also serves as an important reminder to them that they matter. For more information on assisting with this program, you can email the Bonnes Meres Auxiliary Children’s Fund at BonnesMeres@gmail.com.

Create the Change Thanksgiving Food Donations: An often overlooked holiday this time of year is Thanksgiving, but you can volunteer your time to sort donations, package food, and even include a thoughtful note or card for Thanksgiving meal distributions on Friday, November 18, at 340 North Madison Avenue in Los Angeles. Hosted by Project Giving Kids, this event is part of “Create the Change Week 2022,” happening November 13–19.

Spark of Love Toy Drive: Community centers across Riverside will be distributing toys to children in need on December 19 as part of the Spark of Love Toy Drive. Members of the Riverside Fire Department will be collecting donations to be distributed by PRCSD staff beginning November 12. To learn more, or to make a donation, visit RivReg.org or contact the Youth Opportunity Center at 951-826-2000.

Safe Celebration

Scented candles are extremely popular during the holidays, but we want to issue a reminder that up to 7,500 fires are started each year because of household candles. Please exert extra caution when lighting candles in your apartment, especially in your bedroom. 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 also 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. Take care to keep all open flames, such as candles, away from the branches, and make sure you turn all lights off when you’re not at home. Stay safe and enjoy the holidays!

Riverside and the surrounding area are packed with holiday cheer. Enjoy the activities, shopping, performances, and opportunities to give back, and stay safe.

We’d love to see your holiday fun! If you decorate for the holidays or try out one of the activities above, post a photo on social media, tag us, and use #TisTheSeasonAtAMC.

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

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