Cool places to take to the ice
Hot chocolate, mulled wine, and a spin on the ice - what could be more Christmassy? SANDRA O'CONNELLgets her skates on for a whirl around some of the world's best winter wonderlands
Forget about your double axel or triple lutz, ice is nice even if you can barely stay upright. So get your skates on and have a sparkling time at one of the world’s coolest ice rinks.
I-Skate RDS, Dublin
At the RDS in Dublin, this is not just the country’s newest rink, it’s the largest, with over 1,000sq m of real ice. Numbers are restricted so it never gets too crowded, giving you plenty of space to figure out figure skating. You don’t have to worry about young ones skating rings around you either because kids get their own space – the Magic Vacations Rink. If you’re very good one of them may lend you one of their “friendly penguin” training devices, a zimmer-frame on ice to help you keep your balance.
Runs until January 13th.
Hyde Park , London
One of London’s most popular winter attractions, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland has the UK’s largest ice rink as well a Christmas market with Bavarian food village, giant ferris wheel and, new this year, an ice sculpture park with more than 500 ice-exhibits – from ice dragons to ice castles. There’s a family circus by day and a Cirque Beserk display by night.
Skaters circle the park’s Victorian band stand and the rink is open daily from 10am to 10pm. Go in the evening for a canopy of 100,000 fairy lights – like skating under the stars. Until January 6th.
Natural History Museum, London
A guaranteed family-pleaser at any time of year, in winter time the museum becomes an ice-bound treat with a 950sq m rink. Located against the backdrop of the stately Alfred Waterhouse building on Cromwell Road, it’s the perfect setting for a festive glide, with a separate children’s rink too.
There’s a stylish café bar for the compulsory hot chocolate/mulled wine afterwards plus a great viewing balcony on which to enjoy them – and, of course, look down on everyone tripping up below. It’s the perfect spectator sport. Open till 11pm Thursday through Saturday, 10pm all other nights. Runs until January 6th.
Somerset House, London
Somerset House, central London’s arts and culture centre, bills its Skate at Somerset House event as the city’s most glamorous rink. Lest that give rise to scary images of diamantes and sequins a la Torvill and Dean what it actually means is that you get a cool “club night” out skating to music from live bands and top DJs. Finish off with a drink in Tom’s Skate Lounge next door, and browse the Christmas Arcade, a pop-up shop, beside it. On club nights you’re asked to dress to impress. Maybe not your best dress.
Ice Dream, Vienna
From January to March, Vienna City Hall transforms into a winter fairytale with a whopping 6,000sq m of ice skating. It’s just as well it is big because last year saw more than half a million skaters descend on it. In fact there are two rinks, both free and right in the centre of town, connected by paths wending their way through the trees of City Hall Park, with plenty of stalls along the way to supply hot drinks and snacks. Go at night to see the entire area illuminated.