Winning tip: Zero degrees, London
The Maritime Museum in Greenwich has opened an ice rink this year for the first time. It’s outside the Queen’s House and gives a great view through the Royal Naval College to the Thames, creating a scenic skating experience. It’s less pricey than competing museum ice rinks, and less busy, too – no need to book online, simply turn up and buy tickets on the door. Next to the outdoor ice rink there is an indoor bar for those who simply wish to watch, and it’s open until late ...
• Until 12 Jan, adult from £13.50, child from £6.75, rmg.co.uk
Skating Heroes, Hungary
Budapest’s City Park ice rink opens daily from November to February: it’s one of the largest and oldest open-air rinks in Europe and, for me, the most beautiful. Bordered on one side by Heroes’ Square and the other by Vajdahunyad Castle, it is easily reached by tram or metro. Skating through the early morning winter mist or the afternoon sunshine provides exercise for the soul, as well as the body. A cafe and market huts serve hot chocolate, mulled wine and traditional chimney cakes for post-skate sustenance. If you are fortunate, you may see some of Budapest’s older residents ballroom dancing on the ice. Magical!
• Until 29 February, adult from £3.50, mujegpalya.hu
Among the shabby-chic townhouses and shops of Warsaw’s Old Market Place is a uniquely Polish rink – shaped like a bagel (which were invented right here in Poland, incidentally). Skaters glide around a statue of the militant mermaid who personifies the city. Twinkling lights arranged elegantly overhead illuminate falling snowflakes – the Polish winter can be beautiful as well as brutal. Once you’ve burned all those calories on the ice, you’ll be pleased to see the square is packed with Warsaw’s best cooks, dishing up street food until late. Grab some pierogi dumplings and a honeyed krupnik soup, and watch laughing skaters whizz by.
• From £2, bit.ly/2sLodlW
Halfway between the Norwegian parliament and the Royal Palace, Spikersuppa is a glorious skating rink in downtown Oslo. It’s overlooked by the Grand Hotel, in which Ibsen took his coffee each morning, and a stone’s throw from cafes and bars in which to warm up. For the most glorious skating, head there late in the evening, as the kids all head home – it’s lit until 9pm, the music will play and the gløgg (mulled deliciousness) or hot chocolate will flow. As a municipal rink it’s free if you bring your own skates, or £13 to rent some.
• Until 1 March, oslo.kommune.no
Skating reimagined, Moscow
The 2019/2020, Gorky Park skating rink feels just like an alpine ski resort, with multiple, crisscrossing, tree-lined paths, a wide central avenue, with onsite coffee and snack concessions, and a massive rink roundabout. Everything is available on the ice, including cosy restaurants, a children’s rink, ice hockey, neon art sculptures and even toilets. With two sessions, 10am-3pm and 5pm-11pm/ midnight, people come with friends and hang out for hours in a beautiful, superbly designed, immersive ice-skating experience!
• Adult from £2.50 park-gorkogo.com
Wilkkommen, Berlin Neukölln
For some good community skating with glühwein, I would highly recommend the Eisstadion in the Neukölln district of Berlin. The open-air rink has exquisite catering facilities and even an additional ice hockey rink with a stand for spectators. You get all of this for €3.30 – and you even get 50% off if it’s your birthday!
• Open until March, berlin.de
Cologne’s Heinzels Wintermärchen has a fantastic – and big – ice rink for all the family. There’s plenty of space to practice, a central statue where you can have a seat and rest, and a bar just for skaters. Being in the heart of the market means there are also lots of viewing platforms for those who don’t skate.
• Until 5 Jan, day ticket €7.50, skate hire €5, no time limit, heinzels-wintermaerchen.de
Joy in the Jura
The Lac de Joux, in the Swiss Jura, freezes over in the winter months and becomes a natural skating rink. As you glide around on the ice, snow-capped mountains seem to beckon you towards them, sparkling in the crisp winter sunshine. If you skate after dark, chalet lights twinkle and shining stars illuminate the rink. It’s tempting to get caught up in the beauty and mood and head out to the middle of the lake! To be safe, stay within the clearly marked and well stewarded areas. The good news is it’s free: just take your own skates or hire them in one of the pretty lakeside villages like L’Abbaye.
Bang in the centre of Madrid is the Cibeles Palace. The Glass Gallery of this monumental building has been turned in to an ice rink that measures 400 square metres and is covered in Christmas decorations. What could be more wintry than skating inside this beautiful building, then afterwards taking a short walk to the Plaza Mayor for a glass of vermouth and visiting the Christmas market?
• Until 5 Jan, €6 for 30 mins inc skate hire, esmadrid.com
Lancaster on Ice
The Victorian Dalton Square in Lancaster transforms into a winter wonderland where you can skate under fairy-lit trees and the stern gaze of Queen Victoria. She would be very amused! A ride on the Big Wheel offers views of the scene from above.
• Until 5 Jan, adult £11.95, child/student, £9.95, lancasteronice.co.uk
Small town, big ideas, Corby
As an experienced ice-rink explorer, I absolutely fell in love with Corby rink the first time we went there. It is a very small rink with not too many extras, but the people who work there are helpful and passionate. You can definitely catch the right skating spirit there, people!
• Adult £9.50, child £7.50 including skate hire, corbyicerink.com
Mersey chill, Liverpool
Liverpool Ice Festival at the Pier Head has a very good rink and is well organised. We had a great visit that was enjoyed by adults and children alike. Staff on the rink were brilliant with the children and we loved the music, too. It’s also home to the UK’s longest ice slide.
• Until 5 Jan, adult £12, child £10, family tickets available, icefestivalliverpool.co.uk
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