Get your skates on!
Time to polish up your double toe loops and triple Salchows – or maybe just try and stay upright? Outdoor ice rinks are starting to pop up all over the place. Here’s a round-up of the best places to skate in the West Country and beyond. So put on your bobble hats and mittens and head out onto the ice.
Rinks usually have seal or penguin skating aids or bob skates (which fit over the shoes) for younger skaters; some offer dedicated sessions with ice marshalls to build up confidence; and I discovered (‘scuse my ignorance) many ice rinks have wheelchair sessions, too.
Millennium Square Ice Rink, Bristol, Sat 5 November to Tues 3 January 2017
Torvill and Dean will be otherwise occupied in panto at the Bristol Hippodrome this year, so it’s your turn to shine on the ice under the giant bauble aka At-Bristol Planetarium in Millennium Square. 45-minute sessions run on the hour and cost from £8.50 adult/£6.50 kids (0-15s). Book online here. Disco sessions every day at 6pm 7pm and 8pm. Try out a ‘banana’ for two seated kids and one adult. Open every day (times vary, so check their website) except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Bath on Ice, 18 November 2016 to 3 January 2017
A pop-up ice rink in Bath’s Victoria Park directly below the famous Royal Crescent and not far from the big Christmas market – sounds like a bit of a golden triangle. There’s mulled wine, hot cider, hot choc (or champagne if you insist, sir) to slurp and freshly made pizzas, loaded fries, soup and cakes to nosh. If you tire of the ice, there’s always glow in the dark mini golf. You can book hour-long skating sessions online here. From 10am-9pm every day except Christmas Day. Tickets from £8.75 adult/£7.25 under 16s. Family ticket from £26.50.
Winter Wonderland 2016 at the Mall, Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, Thurs 10 November-Sun 8 January
Skate and visit John Lewis (oh joy) at Cribbs Causeway’s Winter Wonderland, where the outdoor rink is apparently the South West’s largest. Booking, especially at weekends, is advisable. You can get two tickets for the price of one any Tuesday between 15 November and 13 December (subject to availability). Younger kids might also be lured into the nearby twinkling Santa’s Enchanted Ice Castle to meet the Ice Queen and some Ice Fairies. Open every day except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Sessions are 45 minutes, start on the hour and cost from £5. Seal aids are available for under 8s.
Eden Project, nr St Austell, Sat 15 October-Sun 19 February 2017
This pop-up ice rink is inside but the setting, amongst the iconic geodesic domes of the Eden Project and all decked out with lanterns and fairy lights, is spectacular. You can also make edible Christmas decorations and cards at the Eden Bakery or nibble on a pastie from one of the kiosks around the edge of the rink. The 40-minute sessions start on the hour, and cost £7 adult/£6 up to 15 years/£24 family but you also have to have a regular Eden admission ticket. You can book online here.
Cardiff’s WinterWonderland, Central Cardiff, Thurs 10 Nov-Tues 3 January 2017
This outdoor rink in front of City Hall and (my old) university buildings has a huge clear span roof and night sky nights to ensure skating here will never be a washout. Enjoy some apres skate with a warming gluhwein or cold beer, a German sausage or two then some crepes, then take a few rides on the funfair (but maybe not in that order). You can book the hour-long sessions costing £9.50 adult/from £6.50 child/£30 family here. Open every day apart from Christmas Day.
Somerset House, Central London, Thurs 17 Nov-Mon 2 January 2017
Go clubbing, knock back a Double Chocolossus Hot Chocolate, shop at the pop up Fortnum & Mason Christmas arcade – or, perhaps, er, just skate on the glorious outdoor rink in the fountain courtyard of the neo-classical Somerset House on the banks of the Thames. Book tickets for 1 hour skate sessions (from £7.50), club nights, skate school and all sorts of tempting skate packages here. Closed Christmas Day.
Tower of London, Central London, Weds 16 November-Tues 3 January 2017
It’s the moat that’s been turned into an ice rink at the Tower. I’m liking the sound of the Eis Haus Ice Experience, where you can sit at an ice bar and sip a cocktail out of a glass also made out of ice – or you could opt for a fondue board and hot choc in the Dip-Dunk Lodge. Open daily from 11am to 10pm, skating costs from £13.50 adults/£9.50 children. Book here.
Natural History Museum, Thurs 27 October-Sun 8 January 2017Skate first, dinosaurs after? Or the other way around? The huge rink has a Christmas tree in the middle, fairy lights all around and the museum as backdrop. There’s a cafe/bar, viewing platform and a separate smaller rink for younger kids as well as a carousel. Opening times vary but core hours are 11am-9pm every day except for Christmas Day. Sessions last 50 minutes and cost from £12.65 adults/£8.80 children/£39.60 families. Book here.