Can there be any more quintessential winter activity than skating in the open air? Yes, probably, you could go reindeer sledding in Lapland for instance, you might go carolling and sing O Holy Night under a Victorian lamp post or dress as your great aunt, down a bottle of Port and hurl unwelcome racial slurs at the television. But, other than all that, there simply isn’t any more quintessential winter activity than skating in the open air.
Which is great because we have the perfect selection of open air rinks for you?
Now in its 20th year, the Somerset House ice rink is the home of the London skating rink (unless you include the actual Thames, which used to freeze most winters with a ‘frost fair’ carnival held on the river the last time it froze proper in 1814), is open again in the Edmond J. Safra Fountain courtyard. And it’s not just the enormous skating rink you have to look forward to, the Fortnum’s Lodge pop-up is back again for 2019.
Opens on Wednesday 13th November until Sunday 12th January 2020
The crown jewel of the Tower of London at this time of year is the ice rink. Set by the tower walls, this probably is the most dramatic view from any rink the world over, with views toward the river as well as the one of the nation’s most historic building to your left. Then ahead. Then your right. Coz skating in circles.
Opens on Saturday 16th November for eight weeks
Where: The Tower Of London, London, EC3N 4AB, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Tower Hill (0.2 miles)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Winter Wonderland is one of the most nightmarish places to go come this time of year. But bear with the grimness, the crowds and the jostling tourists and just go for the ice rink. Yes, you run the risk of having your little finger sliced off, but it’s actually the least crowded part of Winter Wonderland and is genuinely impressive and enjoyable.
Opens on Thursday 21st November until Sunday 5th January 2020
Don’t lose your head (or any peripheral body parts, I’m always terrified for my poor fingers) at Hampton Court Palace this winter as the ice rink returns for another year. Stunning location: tick, great rink: tick. What’s there not to like?
Opens on Friday 22nd November until Sunday 5th January 2020
Where: Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, KT8 9AU, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Hampton Court (0.2 miles)
Head out east to Wapping’s Tobacco Dock for more rooftop skating. Another tiddler, but comes with activities and hot toddies at Skylight. The venue is currently in its ‘autumnal’ phase (think hay bales, harvest festival etc), but come the start of November Skylight will transform into a wintery wonderland atop a multi-storey in the East End.
Opening 31st October until January 2020
The Natural History Museum is quite literally the natural place to start any guide to London’s outdoor skating rinks. Whizz round and round under the gaze of this, one of London’s most majestic buildings, and afterwards grab a warming drink at the Café Bar.
Opened on Saturday 19th October until Sunday 20th January 2020
This little gem, in Covent Garden, has popped up for the winter courtesy of Tiffany & Co. The ‘Scented Winter Wonderland’ ice rink is small, surrounded by fir trees, and will be in situ until Boxing Day. A perfect opportunity to skate for free on Tiffany’s dime!