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.
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 3 January 2016; Adults £12.65; Kids Under 12 £8.80; Family Ticket £36.90
Situated in right in the heart of the Southbank and all its festive treats, skaters can glide across the ice and take in the best views of the London Eye. And combined tickets allows you to experience a turn on the big wheel itself, too!
Eye Skate Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB Open until 3 January 2016; Adults From £10.50; Kids 4-15 From £6.75; Family Ticket From £18.90
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!
‘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 10 January 2016; Adults and children £8.85; Skate School: Full Price: £14.55, Kids Under 12 £12.05
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 26 February 2016; Adults £14.95; Children 4-12 £9.95; Family Ticket £41.95
Only two minutes walk from Liverpool Street and a stone’s throw from Spitalfields, Broadgate will be open until the end of February, so you have plenty of time to pop down for a skate across this popular rink. There are penguin skate aids for little ones; and a Tasting Room with an outdoor terrace with hearty food and drink on offer.
Broadgate Circus Exchange Square EC2A 2BQ Open until 25 February 2016; Adults £13.00; Children 4-13 £9.00; Family Ticket £35.00
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 3 January 2016; Adults £12.00; Children 4-13 £9.50; Family Ticket £38.00