Ice skating is such a festive treat – a real winter tradition the whole family can enjoy. And there are several pop-up rinks which spring up all over London during the Christmas season – some traditional, some with wonderful backdrops, but all of them offering good old-fashioned fun. You’ll be spoilt for choice, so here are the Urban Monkey Guide’s top picks of where best to strap on some blades and hit the ice this winter… Book early to avoid disappointment.
Right in the heart of the city, Canary Wharf’s sky-high towers surround Canada Square which has an iced path allowing skaters to dash off from the main rink and glide below sparkling trees around the square’s ‘Big Blue’ sculpture, which was designed by Ron Arad. Little peeps and beginners can uses the polar bear skate aids, while Q on Ice will be barbecuing food and making wintry cocktails, and warming hot chocolate.
Canary Wharf The Thames Clipper docks at the Canary Wharf Pier Open until 24 February 2018; Adults £14.50; Children 4-12 £9.95; Family Ticket £46.50
Greenwich Wintertime Festival
Greenwich Winter Time Festival is a festive takeover of the world heritage-listed Old Royal Naval College, located next to the Cutty Sark. There will be a covered ice rink, and a Christmas market as well as food stalls selling mince pies and mulled wine.
Greenwich Wintertime Festival College Approach, London SE10 9LW; Open from 1-31 December; Adults £15; Children £10
Hampton Court Palace
The outdoor ice rink offers spectacular views of the red brick Tudor front of King Henry VIII’s magnificent palace, on the banks of the historic River Thames. Book an evening session to see the stunning palace lit up after dark while you skate under the evening stars!
Hampton Court East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU Open until 7 January 2018; Adults £13.50; Kids 13-15 £10.35, 3-12 £8.35; Family Ticket £34.20
Natural History Museum
You can’t get more enchanting then skating across the 1,000 metre rink with the majestic Alfred Waterhouse’s Natural History Museum buildings in the background… particularly at night when the twinkly lights shine on the huge centrepiece Christmas tree. There’s also a smaller rink for younger children and beginners, a café bar serving scrummy hot chocolate and beverages, and a fairground carousel for kids. Magical stuff.
Natural History Museum Cromwell Road London SW7 5BD Open until 7 January 2018; Adults £12.65; Kids Under 12 £8.80; Family Ticket £36.90
‘The coolest rink of all’ says The Sunday Times and they’re not wrong. One NYE pre-Monkey, hubby and I spent a romantic night skating amongst the splendour of Somerset House’s neoclassical courtyard. Okay, so it was more of a case of spending my time on my bum, but it was brilliant fun. For mummies and daddies, sip champagne at the Fortnum & Mason’s Lodge. Meanwhile, the Skate School and Penguin Club are on hand to help visitors of all ages build confidence and learn new tricks.
Somerset House The Strand, London WC2R 1LA Open until 14 January 2018; Adults and children £8.85; Skate School: Full Price: £14.55, Kids Under 12 £12.05
The Tower of London
Located in the 1,000 year old dry moat, the Tower of London ice rink offers a grand historical setting for seasonal skating sessions, along with views of London’s ancient fortress. Grab some refreshments at the Ice Bar & Café.
The Tower of London London EC3N 4AB Open until 2 January 2018; Adults £13.50; Children 4-13 £11.50; Family Ticket £38.00
We’re big fans of Winter Wonderland, which once again comes to Hyde Park. Fun for all the family, with different events and lots to amuse, the largest open ice rink in the UK set around the park’s bandstand under a plethora of twinkly lights is the main attraction. There’s live music and plenty of warm hot chocolate all around.
Winter Wonderland Hyde Park London, W2 2UH Open until 1 January 2018; Adults from £9.50; Children 4-13 £7.50; Family Ticket £30.00