A winter skate at one of London’s pop-up ice rinks is a must at Christmas! Here are the best spots to skate in north, south, east and west London…
Lead image: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
1 Skate at Somerset House, the Strand
The popular Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum and Mason is back with an impressive 40ft Christmas tree, the Skate Lates live music nights, and Après-skate treats like mulled wine and mince pies or champagne and chocolate fondue at Fortnum’s Lodge. Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade also returns, transforming the West Wing at Somerset House into a festive shopping destination. Tickets from £11. Open from 10am-10.45pm for one-hour skate sessions (earliest and latest session available on selected dates only).
The Strand WC2R 1LA; somersethouse.org.uk
2 Tower of London Ice Rink, Tower Hill
Skating at the Tower of London gives you more than a pretty backdrop, the rink, which is larger this year, is set on the old moat inside the 1,000-year-old castle walls! Sessions run from 11am till 8.45pm for 45 minutes (10am on weekends), meaning there are time slots ideal for little skaters and families, as well as evenings under the twinkling lights. After your skate, head for the Ice Rink Café & Bar for grab-and-go snacks, indulgent treats and, on Friday and Saturday evening, cocktails crafted an expert mixologist of the Four Seasons Hotel. Adults from £15, kids 3-12 £10.50.
Tower of London, Tower Hill EC3N 4AB; toweroflondonicerink.co.uk
3 Natural History Museum Ice Rink, South Kensington
The Natural History Museum Ice Rink is one of London’s most popular, set against the backdrop of the imposing Natural History Museum with a sparkling 30ft Christmas tree. Every Thursday, from 7pm-9.30pm, there’ll also be a programme of Acoustic Lates, curated by Ticketmaster Artist Services and showcasing emerging musical talent in the chalet-inspired, rinkside Café Bar for free. There’s also the Penguin Skate Club, running lessons for children aged four to eight, and a number of sessions for wheelchair skate sessions throughout the season. Adult tickets from £12.65, kids from £8.80. Generally open 10am-10pm.
Cromwell Road, South Kensington SW7 5BD; nhmskating.com
4 Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland has the largest open air ice rink in the UK at 1,765 sq m. Set around Hyde Park’s iconic Victorian bandstand under a canopy of sparkling lights, it’s one of London’s most atmospheric alfresco ice rinks – with live music throughout the day and night. You can also enjoy a hot chocolate or festive drink from the spectator’s platform. The 50-minute skate sessions run on the hour every hour from 10am-9pm and there are penguin skate aids for the little ones. From £9.50 for adults and £7.50 for kids. This year, you can also enjoy Paddington on Ice, an ice show with cool choreography, costumes and toe-tapping music!
Hyde Park W2 2UH; hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
5 Hampton Court Palace
Situated in the gardens of Henry VIII’s historic home, this open-air ice rink offers you spectacular views of the historic Hampton Court Palace while gliding across the ice. Whether you’re looking for a memorable ice-skating experience or a place to catch up with your loved ones, this Tudor palace in south west London (well, ok, it’s technically Surrey), is the place to do it. Penguin skate aids are available to hire for £5 and festive refreshments are available. Adults from £17.20, kids aged 3-12 from £12.70 and family tickets start from £47.20. Open every day from 5 December to 17 January (excluding Christmas Day).
Hampton Court, Surrey KT8 9AU; hamptoncourtpalaceicerink.co.uk
6 Bar Elba, Waterloo
Waterloo’s most vibrant rooftop venue, Bar Elba is set to launch its first ever skating rink pop-up, and it’s totally free! Bar Elba will be transforming into a winter wonderland rooftop from 13 November, with mulled wine, hot mugs of gin and cosy blankets. Those seeking the full festive experience will be able to enjoy hot urns of Pink or Blood Orange Beefeater Gin cocktails. Skating during November is free for guests and the rink will also be available for private hire exclusive use for those looking for a Christmas party with a difference. (Note: Skating is free during November on a first-come, first-served basis, but priority will be given to those with a table booking.)
109-117 Waterloo Road SE1 8UL; bar-elba.co.uk
7 Skylight’s Rooftop Ice Rink, Wapping
Skylight at Tobacco Dock in Wapping is home to London’s only real-ice rooftop ice rink. DJs and ice hockey shooting will up the ante on the atmosphere front, and indoor and outdoor heated areas – do check out the cosy igloos – as well as great views of the city, make this a fun festive evening out. Open Thurs-Fri, 5pm–11pm and Sat-Sunday, 12pm-11pm (closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day). Skate sessions are £12 for 45 minutes (tickets sold onsite only).
Pennington Street Car Park, Wapping E1W 2SF; skylightlondon.com
8 Ruxley Manor Garden Centre Ice Rink, Sidcup
For those who spend all week hefting into town on a train from south east London and would rather not do it at the weekend, thank you very much, there’s Ruxley Manor Garden Centre in Sidcup. Enjoy 45-minute skate sessions on the fully covered 567 sq m outdoor ice rink, located in the rather lovely Plant Department. This year, there are more off peak sessions, toddler sessions, new SEN sessions and a host of exciting events on the ice. Tickets from £5 for adults and £2 for under 3s. Ruxley Manor Garden Centre will also have Christmas market, a Santas grotto (from 16 November), a Christmas department full of decorations, a festive Children’s brunch and a Christmas afternoon tea. Open Mon-Sat 9am-5.30pm and Sun 10am-4pm.
Maidstone Road, Sidcup DA14 5BQ; ruxley-manor.co.uk
9 JW3 Ice Rink, Finchley Road
The JW3 Ice Rink is one of your dinkier numbers, with a skating area of 200 sq m, but the special events, glimmering lights, music and electric atmosphere make it a great one to visit regardless. There are penguin stabilisers and seated banana toboggans for wobbly little ones, as well as hot chocolate, mulled wine, pizzas, doughnuts and kosher treats at Zest Café. The 50-minute sessions run throughout the daytime, starting at 10am and running up until the final session at 7.20pm (select days have limited sessions). Adults from £13, under 15s from £8. The rink is also available for private hire.
Finchley Road NW3 6ET; jw3.org.uk
10 The Queen’s House, Greenwich
The ice rink at the Queen’s House in Greenwich, which made its debut last year, returns in 2020 to once more stake its claim as south London’s only outdoor ice rink. Set against the backdrop of a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site, the ‘instagrammable’ ice rink will be even bigger this year – all the better for social distancing! The Queen’s House ice rink offers the chance to skate in front of the ‘House of delight’, built especially for James I’s Queen, while also soaking up the beauty of Greenwich Park and the spectacular views across the river to Canary Wharf. Running 5 Dec-24 Jan, the ice rink has new hygiene measures in place in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Open 11am-8pm (last skate 7pm) on off-peak days and 10am-9pm (last skate 8pm) on peak days (peak dates are 12 Dec-3 Jan inclusive; super peak day is on 24 Dec). Skate hire is from £7.25 for kids and £14.50 for adults (u25s/student, £9).
Queen’s House, Greenwich SE10 9NF; rmg.co.uk/skate
11 City Island Ice Rink, east London
London City Island, the capital’s newest cultural destination, will unveil the first City Island Ice Rink this December. The open-air winter ice-skating rink will be located in the recently opened Hopewell Square, and with no ice rink at Canary Wharf this year, City Island Ice Rink will provide east London with affordable skating. The iconic English National Ballet, who took up permanent residence at City Island in September, will mark the opening of London’s newest ice rink with a Nutcracker themed musical performance (register for tickets here). Hopewell Square will also host a four-day artisan Christmas market from 12-15 December, with festive tipis showcasing locally sourced food, drink and gifts. Sessions last 45-minute sessions. Open daily from 12pm-9.45pm. Adults £8, kids £5.50, under 5s free.
Hopewell Square E14; londoncityisland.com
12 Camden Ice Rink
Camden Market is going all out this Christmas, since its celebrating its 45th anniversary, by transforming the North Yard into an illuminated North Pole. Built across the cobbles and decked in fairy lights, the ice rink is set against the historical backdrop of one of London’s most iconic markets. Fuelling the festivities, yuletide specials will be served across the North Yard’s restaurants, cafes and delis, including a Triple Ho vegan Christmas Burger from Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner, The Cheese Bar’s Festive Fondue Menu and boozy hot chocolates from The Camden Grocer. A Santa’s grotto will open on 23 November, too, and a valid ticket for either the grotto or ice rink will unlock Christmas discounts with traders across the North Yard. Rink open from 15 November until 9 January with sessions from 9am until the final session at 8.20pm. Skating from £6.
North Yard, Camden Stables Market NW1 8AH; camdenmarket.com
13 Ally Pally Ice Rink, Alexandra Palace
The indoor rink at Alexandra Palace is open all year round, but you only get Panto On Ice at Christmas time! This year, Alexandra Palace Ice Rink Amateur Productions presents a magical retelling of Pinocchio on Ice, with a cast of talented skaters from adults to tiny tots perform a unique adaptation of this classic tale. Running 13-16 December. Adults £15.50, kids £13. Other festive events, which you can combine with a skate, include a Christmas market, Santa’s Grotto, a Horrible Christmas performance from the Horrible Histories franchise and a series of family-friendly festive events. Skate sessions are from £9 for adults, £8 for ages 15 and under and £5.50 for under 5s.
Alexandra Palace Way N22 7AY; alexandrapalace.com
14 QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl, Queensway
QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl in west London is always coming up with new ways to have fun on the ice, and the latest is curling sessions on the ice every evening from Wednesday to Saturday. The rink side bar, The Sin Bin, is London’s only dedicated curling rink-side bar and diner. This season, QUEENS is decking their super-sized skating hall for guests, whether a pro or just playing, to showcase their ice skating finesse. Curling from £9.95pp; skating sessions £12 (half price on Mondays).
17 Queensway W2 4QP; queens.london