Get your skates on! Christmas is coming to London, and with it comes a flurry of festive ice rinks.
Whether you can pirouette like Michelle Kwan or just slip around like Bambi, there's a rink for everyone in London. From rinks surrounded by festive vibes like Winter Wonderland, to slices of ice with party-style DJs like Skate at Somerset House, or skating slabs on rooftop bars like Skylight - it's time to put your plans on ice and slide into action. Skaters gonna skate!
RECOMMENDED: The best Christmas events in London
The best ice skating rinks in London
The NHM rink is the old faithful of these icy offerings: spacious, pretty, and infinitely Christmassy. It has those little plastic support penguins for kids and plenty of space where not-so-confident adults can cling to the side. Even if you hate to skate, you can grab a hot chocolate, check out the museum from the café’s viewing platform and get a dose of that warm ‘I can’t believe I live in London’ feeling.
Put your party plans on ice and slip into Somerset House’s grand nineteenth-century courtyard, home to a 900-square-metre outdoor rink. Skate Lates are the real draw when DJs like Nabihah Iqbal, Joe Goddard, DJ Yoda, Rinse FM and Krankbrother take to the rinkside decks for huge open-air parties. Keep an eye out for the 24-hour event: your chance to skate under the stars in the middle of the night.
Fancy whizzing around one of London’s most famous landmarks? Hit the ice at the Tower of London, where you can get up close to the grand historical monument and check out some sweet views of the river Thames. And if you save your sesh for the evening, you can see the rink bathed in blue lights as snowflake projections flicker over the famous fortress.
Henry VIII may have been an ice-cold monster, but there’s no denying that his former palace makes an impressive backdrop for this open-air rink. It’s a whopping 1,040 square metres, and as it’s a little further out west, it doesn’t get quite as crowded as the central rinks. Still, you might want to avoid attempting a Surya Bonaly backflip if there are kids about.
The Grinch would have a real job stealing all the Christmas from Hyde Park's huge tribute to festive fun. As well as Christmas markets, German-style beer halls and cosy Christmas film areas its also boasts the biggest outdoor rink in the UK – it surrounds the Victorian bandstand and is illuminated with more than 100,000 lights.
Nowhere wears Christmas better than Greenwich – its neo-classical buildings were made to look magical under a coating of snow. Now, you can indulge in the area’s festival feels by whipping round a new ice rink in the Unesco World Heritage site. Popping up outside the beautiful Queen’s House, this rink is the perfect place to slip and slide while taking in the stunning setting.
Winter has returned to east London, more specifically Tobacco Dock in Wapping, where there’s a rooftop ice rink (the only natural one in Europe). The rooftop is lined with igloos and huts which are mighty cosy, but must be booked in advance for a hefty fee (£90-£180). Skate, or spectate while knocking back mugs of mulled wine and feasting on roasted chestnuts.
Canary Wharf’s ice rink is on hiatus this year, but you can still get your glide on in east London thanks to this new slice of ice. There’s also a four-day artisan Christmas market (December 12-15). Pencil the launch in your diary, when an orchestra will perform a show themed around ‘The Nutcracker’ and ballet dancers will lead pre-ice-skating warm-ups.
For the first time, buzzy rooftop oasis Bar Elba in Waterloo will turn its fairy-light-lined bar into a mini winter wonderland, complete with a pop-up, artificial ice rink with views of the city skyline. As rinks go, it’s extremely petite, coming in at around 4m x 14m. You can skate or play a (very short) game of curling. Since it’s artificial, it’s not quite as slippery and festive as the others, but there’s hot gin to amp up the Christmas spirit.
Skate yourself silly at Camden Market, which is celebrating its forty-fifth birthday by giving the North Yard a North Pole makeover for winter. Scoot your way down the 25 metre-long rink, take little ones to the Santa’s grotto and chomp on street food – we’ve got our eye on Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner’s triple ho burger.
Queens Skate Dine Bowl has been around since the 1930s, and now boasts a fancy new look with a slick ice-skating rink, state-of-the-art bowling lanes and an outpost of the cult-status burger joint MEATliquor. There are also two cafés, and a fun retro games arcade. Plus, it's one of the only places in London where you can also do curling and go-karting on ice.
Venue says Skate and bowl at QUEENS for just £5! Hit 'Book Now'.
Ally Pally's lofty and indoor skating arena is open year-round for general skating, figure skating, ice hockey, parties and even weekend ice discos. The venue also offers year-round skating classes, so even the most wobbly skater could be gliding around the ice rinks like a pro, come Christmas.
The kid's parties are a big hit at this modern, well-maintained and comparatively warm ice rink. Other plus points are the fact that it’s never too busy, the ice rink is a good size, and the option is there to book private tuition if you're a little shy on the ice.
Streatham has long been a home of ice and all the fun that comes with it. The rink was first opened here in 1931, where it stood for 80 years before getting a much needed renovation in 2013. Now it is Olympic sized (that's 60x30m) with almost 1,000 seats surrounding it. Both pros and novices of all ages can use the rink, with classes in skating and ice hockey also vailable.
Snap up exclusive discounts in London
Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long...