Best places to go ice skating in the UK
It is traditional for Brits to take to the ice during the winter months as outdoor ice rinks pop up everywhere across the UK. The build up to Christmas wouldn’t be the same without going to an ice rink (ideally in the evening) to show off your skills on the ice, which to be honest few Brits have, and scoff a few more mince pies. whilst sipping hot mulled wine and enjoying the uplifting sound of Christmas carols.
The experience is magical whether you decide to take to the ice or not because there is so much to do and see. For one thing seeing what people are wearing can be entertaining in itself. Now, it is sensible to wrap up warm but some people take it to the extreme either by playing the clown by wearing funny Christmas jumpers or dressing as if they were going to the North Pole.
Don’t worry if you’ve never ice skated before either because you will definitely not be the only person hanging onto the railings for dear life. in short the fun is certainly in just experiencing this traditional winter pass-time and not trying to become a proficient ice skatter!
Somerset House - London (Image courtesy of James Bryant)
Almost every town and city have a special outdoor ice rink at this time of year and to find one nearest to you go to the National Ice Skating Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland website where you will find a useful interactive map of ice rinks in the UK. Just click on your region and it will suggest the nearest rinks. Many of them will offer lessons if you want a professional to show you the ropes and you can also hire the ice skates.
Whilst you will find an ice rink near you therre are a few that are very special and are well worth a visit, here are our favourites.
Brighton Royal Pavilion - Sussex, England (photo credit: Hugo Philpott)
Brighton Royal Pavilion - Sussex, England
The ice rink at the Royal Pavilion is certainly one of the most beautiful in the country. The Palace mixes Regency grandeur with the visual style of India and China and was built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV.
Dates: Open until 14 Jan 2017
Cost: Starting at £10
Location: Brighton Royal Pavilion
Cardiff Winter Wonderland – Cardiff, Wales
The historic civic centre of Cardiff has been transformed into an ice kingdom, complete with an Alpine Village, a fun fair, an ice rink and amazing ice sculptures
Dates: Open until 3 Jan
Cost: Student concession ticket costs £9.50
Location: Civic Centre
St Andrew’s Square - Edinburgh, Scotland
Imagine skating around history itself and that is exactly what you would be doing in St Andrew’s Square when you take a turn around the Melville Monument, which was erected in 1823 to honour Viscount Melville who was dubbed the “uncrowned king of Scotland”
Dates – Open until 6 Jan 2017
Cost: Starting at £5
Location: St Andrews Square
Somerset House - London, England
The ice rink at Somerset house is one of the most beautiful in the country. By day you can skate whilst taking in the stunning courtyard that will transport you to a bygone era. After dark the vibe, however, changes and you could be in a swanky night club as a host of international DJs pump out the coolest sounds.
The experience can be finished off at the super luxe Fortnum’s Lodge or the Skate Lounge and shop at the pop up Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade.
Dates – Open until 14 Jan 2017
Cost: from £7.50 for daytime skating and from £19.00 for the nights
Location: Somerset House
Tower of London – London, England
Take in the dramatic surroundings of the 1,000-year-old Tower of London as your glide around on the ice. The backdrop is as beautiful by night as it is by day as this world heritage site is washed in hundreds of snowflakes that light up the wall of the fortress after dark.
After you’ve enjoyed ice skating wrap up in one of the insulated coats provided and step inside Eis Haus bar, the pop-up bar and lounge made entirely of ice, and enjoy a drink in a chilled ice glass surrounded by crystal-clear ice sculptures.
Dates: Open until 2 Jan
Cost: £12.50 student concession ticket
Location: Tower of London
Eden Project – Cornwall, England
The Eden Project is well known for housing plants from around the world under ginormous dome like greenhouses. Whatever the weather is like outside visitors can bask in the warm eco-system but once a year things get a bit nippy with the arrival of the ice rink. This is a great ice rink to visit because when you have had enough of being cold you can pop into one of the domes to warm up!
Dates: Open until 18 Feb
Cost: Starting at £7
Location: Eden Project