London’s collection of pop-up ice rinks grows by the year. New for 2018 is a rooftop ice rink at John Lewis and a twinkly alfresco rink at the new Walthamstow Winter Wonderland. Here’s the best of the best places for a festive skate…
Lead image: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
1 Skate at Somerset House
14 November-13 January
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 8.45am-11.15pm for one-hour skate sessions (earliest and latest session available on selected dates only).
The Strand WC2R 1LA; somersethouse.org.uk
23 November-6 January
Skating at the Tower of London gives you more than a pretty backdrop, the 1,040 m sq rink is set on the old moat inside the 1,000-year-old castle walls – it’s the rink your Instagram feed needs! Sessions run from 11am till 8.45pm for 45 minutes, 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. A series of special events is yet to be announced. Adults £14.50, 13-15 year olds £12.50, kids 3-12 £10.50.
Tower of London, Tower Hill EC3N 4AB; toweroflondonicerink.co.uk
3 Natural History Museum Ice Rink
25 October-20 January
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 taking place 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
22 November-6 January
Winter Wonderland has the largest open air ice rink in the UK – and this year it’s even bigger, growing from 1,600 sq m to 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. Winter Wonderland has introduced a whole host of new ice-themed attractions for 2018, including The Magical Ice Kingdom Presents: The Secret Forest, Peter Pan On Ice, a 45m ice slide, ice sculpting workshops and an 85m ice trike trail.
Hyde Park W2 2UH; hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
5 Ally Pally Ice Rink
Following a £27m restoration project, Alexandra Palace is re-opening its doors just in time for Christmas. In addition to the redevelopment of the East Court, the Alexandra Palace Theatre will soon be open to the public for the first time in 80 years. To celebrate, the iconic venue is throwing a Christmas Carnival of family-friendly events including the Ally Pally Ice Rink, Christmas market, Santa’s Grotto and a Horrible Christmas performance from the Horrible Histories franchise. The iconic ice skating rink is, of course, open all year round, but it’ll have a very festive feel during the carnival. Plus, Aladdin on Ice – a very special panto on ice – runs from 7-10 December. Skate sessions are £9.50 for adults and £8.50 for ages 15 and under.
Alexandra Palace Way N22 7AY; christmas.alexandrapalace.com
6 Winterville Ice Rink, Clapham
15 November-23 December
Winterville, London’s alternative festive experience, returns to Clapham with top-notch eats from Street Feast, Christmas classics in Backyard Cinema’s Winter Night Garden, UV-powered Plonk Golf, Twisted Wheels Roller Disco, Wasted Chic Christmas Market and a spacious ice rink. The all-weather, outdoor rink is 600 square metres and constructed from real ice. There’s also a neighbouring cafe serving up winter warmers for those who’d prefer to observe than skate. Open Tues-Fri 3pm-10pm and Sat-Sun, 11am-10pm. Adults £10 (£8 in November), kids under 12 £8 (£6.50 in November).
Windmill Drive, Clapham SW4 9DE; winterville.co.uk
7 QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl
19 November until end of January
QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl in west London is always coming up with new ways to have fun on the ice, and the latest is indoor snow! The ice rink will be the only one in London to guarantee snow this Christmas, and it will be home to the city’s first on-ice sing-along sessions. Custom made snow cannons will transform QUEENS into a magical skating wonderland, setting the stage for you and your friends to show off your best Mariah Carey, Frozen and Wham! renditions while gliding around the rink during the weekly sing-a-long screenings of the nation’s favorite Christmas classics on Saturdays. There’s also a rinkside bar and diner, aptly named The Sin Bin, serving MEATliquor’s new XXXmas drinks under the mistletoe as well as Piggies In Blankets, Gloucester old spot chipolatas wrapped in bacon and the XXXmas Burger. Skating sessions from £6.
17 Queensway W2 4QP; queens.london
2 November–16 February
Ice Rink Canary Wharf, London’s only covered seasonal ice rink, returns to Canada Square Park with its popular skate path and dedicated children’s rink. It’s illuminated by the glow of over a thousand Edison light bulbs and even has a skate path that breaks off from the main rink through a canopy of twinkling trees. The Grandstand Secret Garden bar, a great spot for pre or post-skate drinks, has great views of the rink. Skating lessons are available. Adults £16.95, kids £10.95. Open seven days a week excluding Christmas Day.
Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf E14 5AB; icerinkcanarywharf.co.uk
9 Skylight’s Rooftop Ice Rink
1 November-27 January
Skylight at Tobacco Dock in Wapping has themed its winter season around an urban après skate bar. Intrigued? As well as seasonal drinks, fondue and street food, the east London neon-lit winter playground unveils London’s first rooftop ice rink. DJs and ice hockey shooting will up the ante on the atmosphere front, and indoor and outdoor heated areas – do check pout the cosy igloos – as well as great views of the city, are going to make this one hard to beat for a festive evening out. Open Thurs-Fri, 5pm–11pm and Sat-Sunday, 12pm-11pm (closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day). Skate sessions are £10 for 45 minutes (tickets sold onsite only).
Pennington Street Car Park, Wapping E1W 2SF; skylightlondon.com
10 Skyline Skating with Sipsmith London at John Lewis
20 October-6 January
John Lewis & Partners has launched a rooftop winter retreat in collaboration with Sipsmith Gin. Inspired by the hedonistic frost fairs that took place on the Thames when it froze over in the cold months of the 17th century – when shop owners would set up stalls selling hot gin to hundreds of delighted Londoners – the rooftop has launched its first ever skating rink – Skyline Skating with Sipsmith London. Warm up post-skate with a hot Sipsmith gin. Skating sessions run Mon-Weds 5pm-8.30pm, Thurs-Fri 5pm-9.30pm, Sat 12pm-9.30pm and Sun 12pm-7.30pm. Adults £8, under 12s £6.
John Lewis, 300 Oxford Street W1C 1DX; johnlewis.com
11 Ruxley Manor Garden Centre Ice Rink
19 October-6 January
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 square meter outdoor ice rink, located in the rather lovely Plant Department, from £5 for adults and £4 for kids and £2 for toddlers (off peak). There are also Little Penguin sessions, the chance to skate with a Minion and family disco nights. Ruxley Manor Garden Centre, which will also have a grotto with reindeer, a Christmas department full of decorations, a festive Children’s brunch and a Christmas afternoon tea. From 9 November until 22 December, Ruxley Manor will be open Mon-Sat 9am-8pm and Sun 10am-4pm.
Maidstone Road, Sidcup DA14 5BQ; ruxley-manor.co.uk
12 JW3 Ice Rink
2 December-6 January
The JW3 Ice Rink is one of your dinkier numbers, with a skating area of 200 square metres, 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 there are two evening sessions starting at 7.20pm and 8.30pm. Adults from £13, kids from £8. The rink is also available for private hire.
Finchley Road NW3 6ET; jw3.org.uk