6-week Temecula IceFEST returns to Galway Downs

A new 7,200-square-foot ice rink will be the centerpiece of Temecula IceFEST at Galway Downs for six weeks starting Friday, Nov. 22. Courtesy photo

Two years ago the event was called Christmas at the Ranch, and it featured many Christmas-themed activities for children of all ages to participate in and a giant ice rink open for the duration of the festival’s run.

Due to a number of issues, last year’s event was only one day and called the Christmas at the Ranch Holiday Bazaar.

But this year, according to co-owner and operator Nikki Tompot, the event is back, bigger than ever and with a new name – Temecula IceFEST.

The festival opens at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, for a full six weeks and kicks off the holiday season with ice skating on a 7,200-square-foot ice rink.

“We put our heart and soul into our previous Christmas festival, and we were heartbroken that we weren’t able to do it last year,” Tompot said. “It was so fulfilling to provide a fun family holiday experience and to build it from the ground up through hard work and grassroots marketing. We received countless calls and messages from the community asking us to come back, so we know that we provided an unparalleled experience for the people of Temecula and surrounding areas in year one.”

It wasn’t easy, but it’s back, she said.

“It has been quite a journey putting the festival back together this year,” Tompot said. “We’ve had to overcome several challenging and unforeseen obstacles, and we’ve weathered some tough blows, but we’re determined to make this holiday event bigger and better than ever. We are very excited to get to the finish line of all of the building and planning and get to the fun part of welcoming our community onto the ice.”

In addition to ice skating, there will be live performances by local artists and choirs, hayrides, movie nights, a craft fair and photos with Santa.

The festival is also offering fundraising opportunities for local schools and is hosting a coat and blanket drive as an official One Warm Coat Ambassador.

Food will be available from Handler Hospitality.

The 2019 Temecula IceFEST Holiday Bazaar, Nov. 30, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. will host more than 100 local vendors and provide a holiday shopping opportunity for Small Business Saturday.

There will even be a New Year’s Eve party for both children and adults, Jan. 31.

The idea is to make a visit to Galway Downs during the holiday season a family tradition for families in the Temecula Valley and beyond.

“We live in such a beautiful community, and we are so fortunate to call Temecula our home,” Tompot said. “We want the IceFEST to grow up with our children. It is our hope that every year we’ll be able to add a little more to the event so that it turns into a must-visit destination for every family in the Inland Empire.”

She said she hoped everyone will recognize the spirit in this holiday festival.

“This isn’t a corporate or cookie-cutter business, it’s just a local family trying to build something special for their own community,” Tompot said. “We do have an investor to help us, but my husband and I are doing all of the hard work. Our kids will be Santa’s elves, my parents will be Santa and Mrs. Claus, and Ronny’s (Tompot) dad is out building the ice rink right now and will be driving the hayride throughout the season.

“We didn’t hire a big company to do all of the work,” she said. “We are doing it all, and we hope that people will choose to come because when it comes down to it, most people prefer to support small businesses built with heart and soul. Don’t be surprised if you see me selling tickets one minute and driving the Zamboni the next.”

Parking and admission to the Temecula IceFEST are free. Ice skating admission is $16 for adults, $10 for ages 4-11, and skate rental is included. Children 3 and under are free with paid adult admission. Skate-aids will be available free of charge.

Hours of operation and calendar updates will be available at www.temeculaicefest.com or by following on social media @temeculaicefest. For more information, call (951) 595-2145.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.