London is a great place to skate and if you love ice skating then this is the place for you, as London is home to many fantastic ice rinks, both indoor and outdoor, which make visiting the capital during the winter season even more magical.
Although you can go for ice skating in London all year round, Christmas time in London is one of the best times to skate as many of the famous landmarks become the venues of pop-up ice rinks around that time.
So whether you are a graceful glider or just starting out, get your skates on and have a look at this fab selection of ice rinks which are well worth paying a visit to.
Lee Valley Ice Centre is the place to be for all those who love indoor ice skating at any time of year. The Ice Centre, located in the Lea Bridge area of East London, is great for children’s parties as it is comparatively warmer than outdoor ice rinks, and with an ample sized rink, it’s never too busy. There are skating lessons on offer for newbies and even a disco for those who want to skate the night away.
Lee Valley is a well-known area for sports and outdoor activities too. Covering a massive area across London, Essex and Hertfordshire, you can enjoy anything from camping, walking and cycling to horse-riding and white water rafting there. With park farms, heritage sites and wide open spaces, Lee Valley is a sight for sore eyes and a true nature escape from the bustling London city life. Supporting a varied range of wildlife, including over two hundred species of birds, there is simply much, much more to see and do beyond ice-skating at this magnificent site of natural beauty, so you may well want to come back for more.
Queens Skate • Dine • Bowl has a permanent ice skating rink that has not long undergone a huge make over. The Queens Skate • Dine • Bowl has been around since the 1930s and now houses not just the ice rink, but a bowling alley, a retro gaming arcade, two cafés, DJs and a trendy burger place, hence the name. It’s a great venue for teenagers who might enjoy the Ice-Go-Karting facilities or even ‘curling’, which is a wonderfully weird alternative to bowling on real ice, and for adults who may wish to take advantage of the bar, lounge and lane-side waiter service.
Alexandra Palace Ice Rink is open all year round for skating sessions and children’s parties. There’s so much going on at ‘Ally Pally’ that you could be spoilt for choice on how to spend your time there, but if it’s ice skating that you have in mind then be sure to make the most of the ice rink which is in an exquisite location, perfect for families. You can also take up patch ice training or even professional figure skating lessons with award winning coaches there.
Along with some of the best panoramic views of London, Alexandra Palace, which opened in 1863, also has a boating lake, a skate park, a theatre, cafés, the Phoenix Bar and Kitchen, an all year round adventure soft play centre, a triple-tiered obstacle course, Farmers Market as well as the picturesque East Court and the Alexandra Park.
The seasonal ice rinks in London which can be seen throughout the winter are famous for their historical backdrops and dramatic views, especially once the evening draws in and the illuminations add to the ambience of these unique and unforgettable locations.
The Tower of London is another enchanting backdrop for an open air ice rink from 23rd November onward until January 6th each year. London’s most famous castle is indeed a popular place to skate during the winter months and if you are lucky, you will spot ice-skating Beefeaters and quite possibly the odd raven (without skates of course)!
The Canary Wharf Ice Rink from 2nd November right through to 16th February is not only the escape for East London bankers to get a bit of respite from city life, it also has a skating area dedicated for children too. As it sticks around for fifteen magical weeks during the winter, it is the perfect location for celebrating any occasion from Bonfire Night all the way through to Valentine’s Day. What’s more, there is an array of bars, restaurants and shops in the surrounding area.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is home to the UK’s largest open air ice rink which can be seen from 22nd November 22 to 6th January each year. With the canopy of lights adorning the Christmas tree under the Victorian bandstand, it is wonderfully atmospheric and an unforgettable experience to skate there. Once you have had enough of skating, there’s fairground rides, a Christmas market and a great karaoke place to check out too.
Take a trip to Winterville in Clapham Common from 15th November to 23rd December to enjoy what is known as the hip alternative to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. It’s a big one, with 600 square metres of ice, a fairground, a Christmas market and it’s also the venue of other attractions such as a Spiegeltent, the Backyard Cinema and Plonk Crazy Golf if you fancy a game.
The Natural History Museum has an outdoor ice rink each year up until January 6th. With the fairy-tale setting of festal lighting and a huge Christmas tree, skating here during in the festive season is truly one of the most enchanting ice skating experiences you can have in London.
The Sixteenth century Hampton Court Palace is a spectacular backdrop for an outdoor ice rink between 23rd November and 6th January. When night falls and the Palace is festooned with vibrant illuminations, you are sure to have a right Royal experience whilst skating there.
You may have seen Somerset House during the summer months when it was the venue of an outdoor film screen as well as choreographed fountains which are a cool retreat for over-heated children. However during the winter season from 14th November to 13th January, Somerset House hosts a delightfully impressive ice rink which makes for an evening full of festive fun.