From a floodlit Royal Pavilion in Brighton, to the Narnia-styled Eden Project in Cornwall, here are this winter’s most stunning ice skating rinks
With a backdrop of the extravagant Indo-Chinese Royal Pavilion, Brighton’s pop-up ice rink resembles a scene from a vintage Christmas card. Book a visit after dusk and the Pavilion shimmers under a floodlit wash of purples and blues, scarlets and golds that highlight the palace’s domes, and cast sparkly reflections on the ice.
After a bracing seafront walk, strut your moves around the rink. For little ones under 1.2m, there are penguin skate aids available. Hungry? The rink-side bar and café serve generous vegan burgers, halloumi fries, soups and bratwurst, alongside a children’s menu.
Few ice rinks can claim such swanky surroundings as this one, set within the grounds of the Queen’s House and Royal Museums at Greenwich, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Enjoy the magnificent architecture, stunning views over Greenwich Park and – across the River Thames – the dazzle of London’s city lights. Make a day of it with the attractions of Greenwich and its parkland, market and shops, and a tour around the museums. Eat at the on-site food stall, or try nearby Pavilion Café.
One of the UK’s most popular skating venues, the ice rink at Somerset House transforms the neoclassical courtyard here into a fairytale world of winter-themed decor, presided over by a 40ft Christmas tree. New to skating? Book a Skate Mate to accompany you around the rink. As for the après-skate scene, choose between gourmet Alpine-themed specials such as cheese fondue, charcuterie and smoked salmon at Chalet Barragiste – or bag a bottle of bubbly at the Moët & Chandon skate-side lounge. With the ice rink’s generous opening hours, you can even book a late-night DJ session for cool tracks to accompany your pirouettes.
Glide across the ice in the gardens of Henry VIII’s former residence, Hampton Court, and you’ll get spectacular views of the Tudor palace, with floodlit colours brightening the facade as night falls. Make a day of it exploring the historic residence, then introduce the kids to the magic grotto in the secret garden, before donning your skates for a swish across the ice.. Marshals are available to help children learn skating skills, alongside penguin skate aids that can be sat upon or pushed. Feeling peckish? Soak up the seasonal spirit with mulled wine and mince pies at the rink’s café and bar.
Worth visiting even without the added attraction of a sparkly rink, Cornwall’s eco-attraction, the Eden Project sees the return of its seasonal ice skating – and this year, marking the venue’s 18th rink, promises to be superspectacular. Expect twinkly lights, Narnia-styled lanterns and a tree-lined tunnel leading you into the biomes. Allow time for a peek around the biomes, then head for the Eden Bakery, where little ones can make Christmas cards and edible decorations. Feel a bit rusty on ice? For locally based visitors, the Eden Project is running five-week skating classes on Wednesday evenings.
Set against the backdrop of Cardiff castle’s dramatic Norman keep, this Winter Wonderland ice rink is just one of the city’s many seasonal attractions. Spend the whole day here, and you can try the ice walk through the castle grounds then, at neighbouring City Hall, enjoy funfair rides, live music and DJ nights. New this year is an ice bar, set to a chilly -10C. Alternatively, the Alpine Village serves festive food and for lovers of mulled wine or hot chocolate, Sur le Piste ski lodge provides hot drinks in a cosy Swiss-themed setting for relaxing.
With an alternative take on the traditional circular ice rink, this winter marks the first time in three years that visitors can glide up and down elegant George Street on Edinburgh’s magnificent Alpine rink. The city is staging lots of seasonal events in conjunction with the rink – worthy of a full day’s outing. Check out the ever-popular Christmas market for gifts and European snacks on East Princes Street Gardens, book in for Santa’s Grotto at West Princes Street, or try out family-friendly attractions spanning a magical Christmas tree maze, to mooching around market stalls packed with seasonal goodies.
The punting season may be over, but you can still eEnjoy thrilling alfresco activities in Cambridge within at the “North Pole” at, Parker’s Piece . The city’s very own winter wonderland has There’s a large covered rink – ideal for skating whatever the weather – and, new for this year, some extra attractions. Try out theand a three-lane ice slide (the UK’s longest), or v. isit at night for a skate under the stars followed by a frozen vodka in the ice bar. Alternatively, get a bird’s eye view of the city from the big wheel, then treat the kids to a clutch of traditional fairground rides.
Tobacco Dock, London
Feel on top of the world as you lace up your boots to swish over the ice – and if vertigo’s not a problem, then Europe’s only rooftop rink at London’s Skylight Tobacco Dock will prove wonderfully rewarding. Enjoy offers fabulous views towards the Gherkin and Nokia; drink in those twinkly city lights once dusk falls, then mix and match your time here with other festive experiences. As well as the rink, Skylight has heated rooftop igloos for friends to share Alpine grub and mulled wine – or warm up in the Skylight cinema watching cheesy Christmas films – with cocktails on tap.
Planning a day trip to Bath? Factor in an hour-long skate at the city’s atmospheric rink near Victoria Park. At 1,000sqm, you can take to the stage, ice-dance to the music and show off those arabesques and backflips without fear of bumping fellow skaters. Skate aids and sleds are bookable for toddlers, and the rink has some great family deals. Fuel up with hot chocolate and churros, or a glass of wine, at Moguls Alpine Bar, then finish off with a warming dip in the open-air rooftop pool at neighbouring Thermae Bath Spa.