The Yuletide spirit will come alive next week at the Riverside Convention Center, where the 33rd annual “Festival of Trees” will be held for a two-day celebration featuring elaborately adorned firs, benefiting a Riverside County charity for children.

The event, hosted by the Riverside University Health System Foundation, transforms the convention center into a virtual Christmas forest, bedecked with 50 “designer trees” — each sporting its own unique theme — for visitors to view, touch and photograph.

The fest will be free and open to the public on Nov. 25 and Nov. 26. The hours on Nov. 25 are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Nov. 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The fest will informally begin on Tuesday night, when a gala is planned to inaugurate the event

“We are anticipating $550,000 in donations from the gala, but it could be up to $600,000,” RUHS Foundation Executive Director Nicole Orr told City News Service. “It’s very exciting.”

She said that between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday, roughly 300 volunteers will converge on the convention center to position and decorate each of the nearly eight-foot-tall trees.

This will be the first time the Festival of Trees has been celebrated in-person at the downtown Riverside site since November 2019. In 2020, because of the coronavirus public health lockdowns, the fest was all-virtual, and in 2021, it was outdoors, relocated to Rancho Jurupa Regional park in Jurupa Valley.

“The Festival of Trees raises awareness and support for crucial work at Riverside University Health System’s Pediatric Unit, neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, and the Riverside County Child Abuse and Neglect Unit,” according to an RUHS Foundation statement.

A variety of activities are planned, catering to visitors of all ages, with Santa Claus, games and strolls through the trees, which will showcase “winter-themed landscapes, bejeweled ornaments and sparkling lights,” the RUHS Foundation said.

Orr estimated that the number of fest visitors could reach 10,000 during the two-day period. The event will coincide with the inaugural weekend of the 30th annual Festival of Lights downtown.

More information is available at ruhsfoundation.org/.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *