When people think of Christmas festivities in California, the main ones that usually come to mind is the LA Zoo Lights, The Mission Inn Lights in Riverside and of course people surely can’t forget the holiday time at Disneyland. But a lot of these festivities can get a little too pricey. Luckily the Shops on South Lake Avenue are here for the rescue. They held their annual Holidayfest which was FREE to the public on Saturday December 1st.

The Holidayfest wasn’t the average holiday festival the people normally go to. It didn’t have the beautiful lights to walk around and see, it didn’t have the fake snowing blowing out as you walked around, it was held in the middle of the Shops on Lake and it didn’t end with a firework show.

The free little bag of popcorn that was being handed out helped keep people munching on something as they waited in the long line to just to take a picture with Santa and then wait in the other long line to get their printed photo. Some kids would run out of line as soon as they saw Olaf, The Cat in the Hat and of course how would it be a Christmas festival without the nasty and mean old Mr. Grinch. If people couldn’t take a picture with Santa at least they had these three characters as their back ups.

How could it be a true Christmas festival without any Christmas music to enjoy? Luckily they had just that to enjoy while families were busy trying the holiday treats, decorating their cookies or just sitting down in the plaza to feel like they were in the Christmas spirit.

“It’s a small festival but it’s something the kids can enjoy and you don’t have to deal with the long lines like if you were to be at Disneyland. It’s close to home and just something small and fun for the kids to enjoy,” says mom Christy Franklin.

Besides the traditional Christmas music, there was also live musical performances.

The heavily influenced British Invasion of the 1960’s and 70’s band called The Jacks created a rare sound that was unruly bold and was hard to ignore. A little odd to have a band like that at a CHRISTMAS festival but it got the people going.

Canadian singer-songwriter Maggie Szabo won the audience over with her stunningly soulful vocals and empowering pop anthems.

The Lake Avenue Church Choristers and NewSong Choirs were the special guests appearance. Finally after the British invasion that went on it was jolly to hear the voices of kids singing Christmas songs.

The festival had its own special Christmas twist to it. It had free horse carriage rides. They could’ve had decorated Lake street with nice lights and added more of a Christmas feeling to it but it was nice to ride around and see the cars driving by.

It would’ve been nice if they held this event in the night so they could’ve added nice Christmas lights and fake snowfall to make the center of the Shops on Lake look a little bit better but overall the festival was something free and nice to enjoy for a good hour or so.

Holidayfest had to be one of the most on budget festivals someone could possibly ever take their kids too. Yes it was free but it had its own special feel of Christmas spirit to it.

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