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Chilling out: Winterfest rings in the season with holiday party on Civic Plaza

Winterfest attendees skate in the Ice Qube Skating Rink at Civic Plaza. (Courtesy of Damian Lopez-Gaston)

Take some loops around the ice rink or take in some New Mexico comfort food during Winterfest.

The event on Saturday, Nov. 30, is celebrating its fifth year in the heart of Downtown on Civic Plaza. The Ice Qube Skating Rink celebrates its grand opening as part of Winterfest.

“It’s not ice,” said Damian Lopez-Gaston, director of event services at the Albuquerque Convention Center. “It’s a synthetic skating service, and we set that up and you can bring in your own skates or you can rent skates for $3. Otherwise, it’s free to skate. That’s the first day of the Ice Qube Skating Rink, and it goes until the end of December. (It is) closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.”

Another big feature is the Winterfest holiday market.

“Where there will be 20 to 25 vendors,” Lopez-Gaston said. “Mostly arts and crafts vendors that will be selling items that can definitely be given as Christmas gifts on the plaza. The Winterfest holiday market is a great way of celebrating Small Business Saturday. These are all local vendors that will be selling their items. They’re all local, small businesses.”

Christmas carolers will get attendees into the holiday spirit, as well as New Mexico comfort foods popular during this time of year.

“We will have our concession stands where we will be serving New Mexican comfort food,” Lopez-Gaston said. “We will have, I believe, green chile stew and tamales available, along with eggnog and hot chocolate and adult beverages, as well. We’ll have microbrews available, and I think our food and beverage folks are doing a spiked hot chocolate and, I think, Bailey’s and coffee, seasonal beverages for the adults to keep you warm.”

The adult beverages can be enjoyed throughout the plaza.

“What we do is the entire plaza gets designated as a beer garden,” Lopez-Gaston said. “We close off the entire plaza. The thing is once you walk onto the plaza you forget that you are inside an enclosed area because it’s such a big area so people can roam around, watch their kids skating around the skating rink and enjoy a beverage or some good New Mexican comfort food.”

Winterfest is a city of Albuquerque event, but ASM Global, which manages the Albuquerque Convention Center, handles events on Civic Plaza.

“When the city does an event like Summerfest or something we’re out there with the logistics to make it happen,” Lopez-Gaston said. “But it’s really a city, cultural services event. But sometimes we do our own events, too, like the kids fest, like the movie series, like Winterfest, and those are events that we produce out there. It’s not taxpayers dollars or anything, but we put them together to get people out there on the plaza because we like people to come out and enjoy our town square.”

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