Ice skating in London
Glide with the greatest of ease around the capital's outdoor ice rinks this winter
Whether you dance on ice like Christopher Dean or simply scramble around like Bambi, the capital's outdoor ice rinks are some of the most magical locations you'll see all season. With fairy lights and Christmas trees set to the backdrop of London's stunning institutions, a trip to an ice rink is a must-do for the views alone.
Get your skates on: London's outdoor ice rinks
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Alfred Waterhouse's stunning Natural History Museum once again provides the backdrop for this 1,000-metre-square outdoor ice rink, which features a Christmas tree at its centre, and a smaller rink for children. Returning this year is a rinkside fairground carousel, and spectators can take in the scene with a hot chocolate or mulled wine from the balcony café bar overlooking the ice. The trees are decked with thousands of fairy lights to add to the festive atmosphere. See the website for wheelchair-user sessions, and note the rink is occasionally closed for private functions.
The Canary Wharf Ice Rink returns to its spot surrounded by soaring towers. Skaters can glide across the 1100-metre-square rink, down a dram in the rinkside bar or just watch the action from the viewing gallery. There's also a glittering skate path through trees lit by fairy lights. Under-13s must be accompanied on the ice by an adult.
The open-air Eyeskate rink is situated in Jubilee Gardens, in the shadow of the London Eye. You don't need to book a flight on the Eye in order to skate but various packages are on offer for those who wish to do so. Sessions last 45 minutes. Under-8s must be accompanied on the ice by an adult.
Set in front of Henry VIII's picturesque old pad, this 900-metre-square rink has space for 250 skaters. Sessions last an hour and wheelchairs are welcome on the ice except during the last session of the day. Ice guides are available for supervised group skating (£32 per session). Skating lessons for 5-16 year-olds are also available (and sell out fast so early booking is advised). Online booking is recommended.
Hyde Park gets glammed up once again with its sparkly, annual Christmassy additions. The central London park will be kitted out with rides and attractions, including a Giant Observation Wheel and two circuses – 'Christmas Circus' and 'Cirque Berserk' – from the family-friendly Zippos Circus. Plus Winter Wonderland's ice rink, which is the biggest outdoor rink in the UK, surrounds the Victorian bandstand and is illuminated with more than 100,000 lights.
Once again, the grand eighteenth-century courtyard at Somerset House provides this 900-metre-square ice rink with one of the most impressive skating backdrops in town. The skate school offers lessons for beginners and there are special Penguin Club sessions for children, as well as late-night skates and club nights with DJs on selected dates. Tom's Skate Lounge, a rinkside bar and lounge open to both ticket and non ticket holders, serves drinks and snacks throughout the day and a christmas arcade provides ample opportunity to splurge on yuletride treats and crafts.
Located in the dry moat, the Tower of London ice rink (aka Ice at the Tower) offers a grand historical setting for seasonal skating sessions, along with views of London's ancient fortress. Ice guides are available for supervised group skating (£32 per session). As with fellow Historic Royal Palace Hampton Court, sessions last an hour and wheelchairs are welcome on the ice except during the last session of the day. Online booking is advised.
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