Scarves and woolly hats at the ready; Christmas is coming to London, and with it comes a flurry of festive ice rinks.
Some rinks come as part of a vast winter wonderland, while others will pop-up at iconic London landmarks. Still not convinced? Even the most reluctant skater can join in the frosty fun with go-karting on ice at Queens Skate Dine Bowl.
Whether you can pirouette like Michelle Kwan or just slip around like Bambi, there's a rink for everyone in London. Round up your mates and get booking - it’s time to get your skates on.
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The best ice skating rinks in London
The Natural History Museum is home to London’s most enchanting ice rink, thanks to the beautiful backdrop of Alfred Waterhouse's buildings, a row of trees dripping in fairy lights and a majestic Christmas tree in the middle of the ice. It's become a London Christmas classic. This year, the rink will provide the usual festive fun on its perimeter with an indoor Café Bar and viewing balcony overlooking the ice and picturesque lights that are open to all. See the website for wheelchair-user sessions.
The ice rink in Somerset House's grand eighteenth-century courtyard is something of a festive institution. The 900-square-metre outdoor rink returns to the spot from November 13 to January 12, and is a great way to spend the day no matter how impressive your skating skills are. Plus, once you've enjoyed your time on the ice, there are plenty of tempting extra to sink your teeth into (literally) too: the Fortnum's Lodge offers winter classics like raclette, cheese fondue, smoked salmon and mince pies alongside champagne and mulled wine; and Skate Lates will feature top-notch DJs and music nights.
Fancy whizzing around one of London’s most famous landmarks? Located in the 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 and the river Thames. There will be food and drink on the sidelines for tired skaters as well as those who just prefer to watch the fun.
Skate around Henry VIII's sixteenth-century pad this festive season. Hampton Court Palace makes a mighty picturesque backdrop for this outdoor rink, especially when lit up after dark. The rink, which is right in front of the Tudor pile and by the side of the Thames, is an impressive 1,040 square metres. With sessions for beginners and experts, as well as food and drink pop-ups, this wintery attraction is ideal for skaters of all ages and skills. Wrap up warm and take a turn on the ice in this regal back yard.
The Grinch would have a real job stealing all the Christmas from Hyde Park's huge tribute to festive fun. Entry to Winter Wonderland is free, but ice skating is extra and we'd advise booking ahead online. The event boasts the biggest outdoor rink in the UK – it surrounds the Victorian bandstand and is illuminated with more than 100,000 lights. This year sees the unveiling of a new 70m observation wheel, which will join a line-up of rollercoasters and fairground rides sure to keep thrill-seekers happy. If you're skating, be aware that while there's no minimum age for skaters, under-12s must be accompanied by someone 16 or over and the smallest skates for hire are children's size 9 (adult skates go up to size 13).
Whip around one of London’s prettiest UNESCO World Heritage sites at south London's only outdoor ice rink at Greenwich’s beautiful Queen’s House. Slip and slide on the ice while taking in some sweet views of London, then tuck in some hot food and a glass of mulled wine.
East London has a brand new ice rink this year and as well as skating, there’ll also be a four-day artisan Christmas market (Dec 12-15) and festive workshops including pre-ice-skating dace warm-ups led by English National Ballet, wreath making, seasonal cocktail masterclasses, wine tasting and more.
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.
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