Holidays in Rancho Mirage

It’s no secret that one of the things I love the most about living and working in Rancho Mirage is that I get to expose my friends and family members—and you, dear readers—to all the wonderful things there are to see, do, eat, and drink in my beloved home town and throughout the Palm Springs Valley. That’s especially true at the holidays, a time replete with so many holiday-themed special events.

For me it all starts at our four magnificent resorts, each of which goes all out to deck the halls and more. So when late November and December visitors come to call, be sure to take them to see the lighted trees and kaleidoscopic decorations at Westin Mission Hills Golf Club & Resort (www.westinmissionhills.com), Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa (www.hotwatercasino.com), Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa (www.rancholaspalmas.com), and the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage (www.ritzcarlton.com/ranchomirage). Stopping by at the latter two, don’t miss the gigantic gingerbread house in the lobby at Rancho Las Palmas, and have a sip of Date Brandy Wassail (a seasonal hot punch especially created by bartender Neil Goetz) at the Ritz-Carlton.

WildLights is a luminescent spectacle at The Living Desert in Palm Desert (www.livingdesert.org). From November 23 to December 31 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., stroll under the canopy of glowing bulbs in the Tunnel of Lights, visit with Santa, or take a ride on the trackless train. Adults are $10, children are $8, and kids under 3 get in free.

More twinkles await at 1077 East Granvia Valmonte in Palm Springs, where artist Kenny Irwin Jr. once again opens up his private home’s expansive yard to the public for the annual Robolights, an impressive display of lighted sculptures and other attractions. Opening at 5:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, self-guided tours are ongoing from 4:00 to 9:30 p.m. until January 3. The sights are free, but donations to help defray costs are much appreciated.

The Palm Springs Festival of Lights—a parade of illuminated floats down Palm Canyon Drive—takes place this year at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, December 5. Don’t worry. Being among 100,000 revelers will keep you warm. www.psfestivaloflights.com.

Head up to the Mountain Station of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway on Sunday, December 6 at 5:30 p.m. when beloved desert entertainers (and spouses) Lucie Arnaz and Laurence Luckinbill flip the switch on a 45-foot tree boasting some 4,000 lights. The Palm Springs High School Madrigal Singers will serenade the assembled crowd with holiday classics. www.pstramway.com.

You might very well bump into me on December 10, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., when I attend The Walk of the Historic Inns, a self-guided tour of unique small hotels such as Casa Cody and Korakia Pensione. It all starts at the Palm Springs Art Museum (where free maps and flashlights will be available) and ends at the Palm Springs Women’s Club (which will be hosting a bake sale and live entertainment). www.visitpalmsprings.com/walk-of-the-inns.

And New York City can have its dropping ball at 11:59 p.m. on December 31. I’ll be at the Spa Resort Casino (the sister resort of Rancho Mirage’s Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa) for the first ever New Year’s Eve Countdown, a free, outdoor block party being thrown from 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Limited premium seating for the plein air concert by Starship featuring Mickey Thomas are available for $35, so hurry quick and go to www.sparesortcasino.com/NYE to get yours.

Don’t you just love December in the Palm Springs Valley? Remain in the moment, dear ones. Before you know it we’ll be ringing in 2016!

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