From music-filled nights on ice at Hampton Court to skating in front of the Royal Pavilion Brighton, we select the best outdoor ice rinks across the UK
1. Somerset House, London 11 November 2014 – 11 January 2015
Possibly the UK’s most popular outdoor ice rink, the Christmas spirit in the gorgeous courtyard of Somerset House is truly palpable. Surrounded by Christmas trees, lights, and even with views of the London Lord Mayor’s fireworks if you treat yourself to a ticket on New Year’s Eve, there is always plenty of mulled wine, music, and a late-night final session for anyone keen to enjoy a child-free skate. And thanks to its sponsors, Fortnum & Mason, optional extras include Champagne and Truffles or a Cream Tea in the Fortnum’s Lodge.
2. Ice Skating at The Eden Project, Cornwall, 18 October 2014 – 22 February 2015
The Cornwall eco-attraction, The Eden Project, is worth visiting even without an outdoor ice rink. A dramatic global garden housed in tropical biodomes that nestle in a crater the size of 30 football pitches, it makes for an immensely interesting and enjoyable day out. At Christmas time, a glacial theme transforms the space with lanterns, twinkling lights, and a tree-lined tunnel leading you into the main dome. Visit the Eden Bakery and make edible decorations and Christmas cards, or attend one of the lantern processions or Cornish choir performances.
3. Royal Pavilion Ice Rink, Brighton, 8 November 2014 – 18 January 2015
Another sublime backdrop, Brighton’s Royal Pavilion rink, with the ornate Regency pleasure palace behind it and an atmospheric terrace, is now open for its fifth year. The 800 square metre rink accommodates 250 skaters per session, and there’s no charge for spectating sitting in the lovely rinkside Bar & Kitchen full of warming soups, mulled wine, tasty patisseries and toffee apple treats.
4. Natural History Museum, London, 30 October 2014 – 4 January 2015
The looming Gothic towers and façade of Alfred Waterhouse’s bewitching Natural History Museum building make for one of the UK’s most special ice-skating settings when lit up at night. Surrounded by plane trees hung with sparkling lights, Christmas fir trees covered in baubles, lots of little hot chocolate and street food huts, and of course a rinkside cafe, the rink will give you plenty to see and do. And a visit can be doubled up with a trip to the area’s many cultural attractions, from the V & A and the Science Museum to the NHM itself, and the shops of South Kensington are ideal for some post-skating Christmas shopping.
5. Winter Wonderland, Cardiff, 13 November 2014 – 5 January 2015
A lively Winter Wonderland right in the heart of the Welsh capital, this very special event can be found just outside the Edwardian baroque City Hall and university buildings. The rinkside café and live music performances create the perfect place to rest your weary feet after a session on the ice, or for those with excess energy, the best independent shops are but minutes away in the city centre’s Victorian Arcade. There will also be a ferris wheel and a nod to Calennig (meaning ‘New Year’s gift’) – Cardiff’s traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations.
6. Princes Street Gardens Ice Rink, Edinburgh 21 November 2014 – 4 January 2015
With a mighty castle dominating the city skyline and a climate known for its harsh, frosty winters, festive activities feel like they were made for a white Edinburgh Christmas. And now home to a big open-air ice rink, its magical wintry atmosphere has been given a further boost. Ample attractions including theatre performances, music, will keep you busy between Christmassy drinks and snacks, and a wheel to compete with Cardiff’s will take in views of the glittering cityscape.
7. Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland Ice Rink, 22 November 2014 – 4 January 2015
To perfectly complement the already established York Christmas Market and Winter Wonderland, York’s ‘Ice Factor’ (the north of England’s largest outdoor ice rink) will be celebrating its 10th birthday this year. The festive funfair will be surrounded by an illuminated forest, log cabins, and viewing platform, and will host an original 1930s speedway, traditional carousel and dodgems.
8. Ice Skate Vauxhall, London 21st November 2014 – 4th January 2015
Coming to the historic Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in Nine Elms on the South Bank is a brand new winter treat for Londoners, running right through the Christmas period until 4 January 2015. Aside from a generous 600 square metres of ice and London’s very first Christmas Tree Maze (made from Nordmann fir trees), visitors can also look forward to Street Entertainers, a Street Market full of foodie pop-ups, and an Artisan Craft Market.
9. Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink, London 21 November 2014 – 4 January 2015
The grand setting of Henry VIII’s magnificent Tudor palace, Hampton Court, illuminated at night-time, makes for a surreally beautiful ice skating experience. There are several traditional English pubs and a diverse range of restaurants in the Hampton Court area, as well as a rinkside café stocked to the brim with warming, festive treats.
10. Winchester Cathedral Ice Rink, 20 November 2014 – 4 January 2015
With generous skating sessions lasting an hour, the Winchester Christmas Market Ice Rink is a popular one. Transforming the inner close of Winchester Cathedral into a sparkling haven, the view of the building’s Gothic spires standing out against the night’s sky is as romantic and magical as they come.
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