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Natural History Museum Ice Rink
Photograph: Natural History Museum

Ice skating in London

Get your skates on at the capital’s best ice rinks

Sarah Cohen
Written by
Time Out London editors
&
Sarah Cohen
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Our skating wings were clipped last year, with even the outdoor rinks having to close prematurely. The good news is, most of London’s best ice-skating rinks are back in full force for the 2021-22 season. Winter Wonderland’s is the biggest; Canary Wharf’s is open for the longest period (18 sweet weeks!); Somerset House’s is the most fabulous; and the Natural History Museum’s will be the most missed when it closes FOREVER come January. Take your pick, lace up your boots and get swishing.

RECOMMENDED: our ultimate guide to Christmas in London.

The best ice-skating rinks in London

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  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • Canary Wharf

The ice rink in Canary Wharf’s Canada Square Park is back once again, filling the business district with frosty fun. The 1,200-square-metre outdoor covered rink is open for a mega 18 weeks of ice skating beneath twinkling lights. Spectators and swishers looking for aprés-skate fun can get cosy in Off Piste, the area’s new Alpine-themed bar which offers excellent views of the rink.

Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink
  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • Hampton

Skate around Henry VIII’s sixteenth-century pad this Christmas. Hampton Court Palace makes a mighty impressive backdrop for this outdoor rink, especially when lit up after dark. The ice is right by the side of the Thames and is an impressive 1,040 square metres. It’s pretty family friendly (those little penguin and dolphin skate aids are available for children, if you book in advance). For the rink wallflowers, there’s a café where you’ll find loaded hot chocolates, mulled wine and mince pies.

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  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Hyde Park

The Grinch would have a real job stealing all the Christmas from Hyde Park’s huge tribute to festive fun. As well as a Christmas market, German-style beer hall and cosy Christmas film area its also boasts the biggest outdoor ice rink in the UK, which surrounds a Victorian bandstand and is illuminated with more than 100,000 twinkly lights.

  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • South Kensington

A staple of London’s winter activities scene returns to us from October – but it’ll be your last time to enjoy its icy charms. The ice rink at the Natural History Museum will take up residence at the South Kensington venue for a final season this year before it gets transformed into a new urban garden. Get your skates on for one last glide around the twinkling Christmas tree before our icy friend departs us forever.

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  • Things to do
  • Events & Festivals

So, why should you go on a crisp winter evening to a dramatically landscaped Unesco World Heritage Site to skate in the shadow of England’s finest piece of seventeenth-century Palladian architecture created for a fairytale queen? Erm, let’s have a little think, shall we? There is no doubt that The Queen’s House ice rink is one of London’s most captivatingly beautiful. It might not have the cool factor (no pun intended) of SKATE, or the tourist chops of the NHM, but for purists, it’s pretty perfect, and it always looks dazzling.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Queensway

This ice rink, bowling alley and arcade has been around since the 1930s, and this winter will be offering curling sessions as well as skating. There are two cafés and an on-site Meat Liquor there too. If you can, save your visit for a Monday or Tuesday (outside of school holidays), when you can skate or bowl for just £7 per person

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  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • Aldwych

What’s a London Christmas, without Somerset House’s iconic ice rink? Skate around the grand neoclassical courtyard on this huge, 900-square-metre outdoor rink, with a 40-foot Christmas tree plonked in the middle for maximum Insta potential. Skate Lates are a real draw, when DJs like Mia Lily, Mal, Chloe English, Heléna Star and collective Girls Don’t Sync take to the rinkside decks for huge open-air parties. 

  • Things to do
  • Food and drink events
  • Wapping

This venue boasts skyline views from its rooftop space which will be transformed with seasonally appropriate seating: igloo-shaped pods and heated, covered tables. An ice rink will be returning to the rooftop so you can glide around as London twinkles in the background. Don’t forget to check out the cocktail Christmas cinema, secret speakeasy and après ski lodge too. 

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Streatham Ice Arena
  • Attractions
  • Streatham

Streatham’s rink was first opened in the area in 1931, where it stood for 80 years before getting a much-needed renovation in 2013. Both pros and novices of all ages can use the rink, with classes in skating and ice hockey also available. It’s part of the Better leisure centre group, so you’ll need to download the app to pre-book a public skating session. Okay, it’s not exactly Christmassy but it is Olympic-sized (that’s 60m by 30m), so plenty of room for everyone.

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