With the temperature dropping towards freezing and the faintest chime of sleigh bells in the distance, London is getting into the rhythm of the festive season. And one of the best ways to enjoy winter is to put on your ice skates and go skating on one of the many ice rinks in the capital.
Here, we’ve rounded up all the places you need to know, whether it’s an afternoon of family fun or a date night (watch out for slip skater ignominy, though). Most of them are extremely popular, so be careful and book your tickets in advance: check each rink’s website for prices and availability.
Also be aware that for many places, prices vary depending on when you plan to skate: weekends and evenings are usually the most popular sessions, and therefore the most expensive (that said, where prices are fixed, we have included them — where prices are excluded, see website for details). If you’re comparing two places on price alone, check how long each pad lasts: some work longer than others. Almost everywhere, skate rentals are included in their ticket price, although many allow customers to bring their own. Similarly, most places offer skating aids for nervous skaters, which usually cost between £5 and £10 more to hire and are normally available on a first come, first served basis. And, if you’re wondering where on that list the famous Natural History Museum ice rink is – well, it’s gone, with the 2021 season its last, after 16 glorious years. Fortunately, there is no shortage of alternatives for this year: good slides and slides.
Hampton Court Palace, Molesey
Henry VIII’s magnificent 500-year-old red-brick Tudor palace provides a spectacular backdrop for ice skating, and refreshments are available afterwards. During the day it’s family friendly, while after dark it becomes friendlier as they illuminate the ring with hundreds of colored lights.
November 17 — January 8, East Molesey, KT8 9AU, hrp.org.uk
Skate high? Why not? Perhaps not entirely surprisingly, London’s first rooftop ice rink is also its only rooftop ice rink. Sessions cost £15 for 45 minutes, and once you’re done on the ice, book in for the winter igloos, for a night of cocktails and alpine-inspired food. There is also a lot of mulled wine floating around.
Until January, Tobacco Dock, E1W 2SF, skylightlondon.com
The Queen’s House Ice Rink, Greenwich
Few ice rinks can claim a space on a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but this one does, which sits within the grounds of the Royal Museums in Greenwich. The views – both of bucolic Greenwich Park and the urban glitz of Canary Wharf across the Thames – are another draw, while hot drinks and snacks are available, along with larger meals served at the Parkside Cafe next door to the National Maritime Museum (the cafe is only open when the museum is open).
November 17 — January 8, National Maritime Museum Gardens, SE10 9NF, rmg.co.uk
Somerset House, Temple
The effectively named Skate at Somerset House comes in two guises: during the day it’s a gorgeous place to slide around the ever-impressive courtyard, while in the evening they host Skate Lates, which sees top DJs and musical artists. take control of ringside. Like last year, Moët & Chandon has a ringside seat pouring champagne and cocktails, and the 40-foot Christmas tree is also back.
November 16 — January 15, Strand, WC2R 1LA, somersethouse.org.uk
Alexandra Palace, Muswell Hill
Ally Pally really comes into its own in the winter: Bonfire night is extremely popular (more like a mini festival than just a fireworks display), and its ice rink is just as popular. It’s indoors, and as such protected from the weather, and is known to be particularly welcoming to people of all ages – they have regulars from 3 to 90. However, it does get busy, so book well in advance.
November 28 — January 8, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY, alexandrapalace.com
Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park returns with the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, set around a Victorian bandstand and lit by a canopy of lights. Skating runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with 50-minute sessions every hour (make sure to arrive 20 minutes before your session, though). There is a photographer on site if you want a souvenir, but personal cameras are not allowed on the ice. Elsewhere in Winter Wonderland, there is also an ice slide and ice sculpting workshops.
November 18 — January 2, Knightsbridge, W2 2UH, hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
Slide at Battersea Power Station, Battersea
A brand new offering for 2022, Glide arrives fast on the heels of the opening of the new Battersea Power Station. The riverside rink is large, with 1,200 square meters and room for 300 skaters at any one time, and is centered around a 30ft Christmas tree. In a sense, it’s also the rebirth of the Natural History Museum ice rink, as it comes from the same group that once ran it. They present it as “the most magnificent open-air skating rink in the city”; go see if it’s true.
November 11th — January 8, Battersea Power Station, SW8 5BN, glidebatterseapowerstation.co.uk
Still determined to prove itself as somewhere more than costume work (and, to be fair, progress has been made), Canary Wharf Ice Rink is back for another year. It’s a striking space, sitting under a glittering canopy above the main mall. The skyscrapers that surround it offer an eerily beautiful view. On Wednesdays there is often live music.
Until February 25, Canada Square Park, E14 5AB, icerinkcanarywharf.co.uk
The Winter Festival, Brent Cross
There’s all kinds of stuff going on at this winter festival in North West London, but the ice rink is always one of the main attractions. It’s hugely popular with families, partly because of its large size – kids won’t be crowded in – and partly because of all the other things there is to do once it’s time on the ice. , from white-knuckle rides to Santa’s Grotto tours, or enjoy mulled wine, donuts, pancakes and more.
November 26 — January 2, Brent Cross Shopping Centre, NW4 3EP, festivalhiverbrentcross.com
Although only open for a short time, it’s heartening to see this rink return to this popular center of arts, culture and Jewish community, after being forced to close due to the upheavals of the past two years. It’s what you might call a cozy size, at 200 square meters, and music plays throughout the skate sessions.
December 4 — January 3, 341-351 Finchley Road, NW3 6ET, jw3.org.uk