Set among the Spanish Revival architecture of historic downtown Riverside, California, the new Riverside Convention Center offers more than 20 meeting rooms with approximately 66,000 square feet of flexible space used for conventions, meetings, tradeshows, competitions, and weddings. Rich appointments honor Riverside’s historic architectural spirit, showcasing wooden trellises, graceful arcades, and an iconic welcoming tower entrance, all weaving the beautiful new convention center into the fabric of historic downtown Riverside.


Holiday décor illuminates a mission revival design

For more than 20 years, the City of Riverside has celebrated a holiday Festival of Lights centered around the illumination of lighting displays at the Historic Mission Inn and Spa and the buildings in downtown Riverside. Debbi Guthrie, executive vice president of Raincross Hospitality Corporation, which manages the convention center, reached out to Ambius to develop a plan to decorate the interior of the newly renovated facility to showcase it during the Festival of Lights.

“With a grand tower entrance, rosewood panels on the walls, arched windows and many interesting angles, the facility is very warm and has a boutique feel to it. When we met with Chris Karl, Design Specialist at Ambius, we shared that we really wanted the holiday decorations to reflect the Mission Revival style that carries throughout the unique convention center architectural design,” said Guthrie.

Start with a stunning focal point


Karl focused on the dramatic jewel-tone 15-foot chandelier that hangs from the ceiling in the center of the tower entrance. He decided it would be the perfect place to put a large holiday tree with coordinating decorations, including gold gauze ribbons, blue, red, and green ornaments and elaborately wrapped presents underneath it.

In addition to the 16-foot holiday tree, eight smaller similarly decorated trees, and numerous spiral evergreen shrubs were placed throughout the facility. The smaller trees were movable, allowing them to be located in meeting rooms or displayed in open corner spaces for other events. 500-feet of garland was draped from one light fixture to another down the long concourse area. 85 wreaths and swags were placed on all the meeting room doors and poinsettias planted in wooden boxes that matched the wood-paneled walls were placed throughout the convention center. Artfully stacked presents and nutcrackers were displayed in hallways and corners to complement the holiday theme.

Since the Festival of Lights takes place a block away at the Historic Mission Inn, it was important to incorporate some décor on the exterior of the convention center. On the lower level patio facing a large open park area, three 4-foot decorated wreaths were hung from the roof and twelve 20-foot tall Mexican Fan Palms were lit with lights. This bridged the gap between the celebrations down the block and at the convention center.

Glowing décor showcases the new facility


“Everyone that hadn’t had an opportunity to see our newly renovated space and came to a party, meeting, or event during the holidays loved the space and how beautifully it was decorated. We barely got the main holiday tree up and people were standing in front of it, taking photos. City officials were thrilled, which was great since the city owns the convention center,” said Guthrie.

Guthrie couldn’t be more pleased with the job Chris Karl and Ambius did with the holiday decorations. “Chris was wonderful. He worked very closely with Scott Magna, our convention center manager, general manager and vice president of Raincross. Chris and Scott came up with some really creative ideas and Ambius produced an elegant outcome befitting the convention center. Everything looked beautiful,” said Guthrie. “The results were so impressive that we were featured on the cover of Riverside Magazine with a photo looking up from the base of the main tree to the chandelier.

See what Chris could do for you – view his portfolio, here.