“Don't forget to take some mistletoe; you will need it to get your bruised bum kissed better.”
There is nothing quite like gliding across a bright mirror of ice, hand-in-mittened-hand with that special someone, gracefully leaping, twirling and finally landing a perfect triple Axel. Or perhaps not. Whether you’re a pro or a virgin-on-ice, there is something undeniably magical about taking a frosty turn amidst sparkly lights and Christmas trees.
This holiday season, London offers a variety of ice rinks across the city. If you’re willing to make a bit of a trek, however, the rink at Hampton Court Palace will not disappoint. The real-ice rink is set against the stunning backdrop of Henry VIII’s historic red brick Tudor palace and is beautifully illuminated at night. Advance bookings are highly recommended as skating sessions around Christmas and the New Year sell out fast. Open daily for sessions from 10am to 10pm until January 9th (closed Christmas Day).
In the West of London, the Westfield London offers fun for the whole family (and no weather worries at this indoor rink) with the opportunity to visit Santa’s 3D grotto and witness the adventures of Rocket the Reindeer. With over 100,000 skaters expected to take to the ice, be sure to book tickets in advance. Open until January 3rd (check the site for session times). If a modern shopping mall is less your speed, then head to the rink at the Natural History Museum to embrace winter on ice against the impressive backdrop of the building that is home to 70 million specimens. Warm up or cool down in the beautiful surroundings of the Café Bar and balcony, which offer visitors a bird’s-eye view of the Ice Rink, or outside at ground level by the Christmas tree. Open until January 9th (check for a few exceptions) on weekdays from 10am to 10pm and weekends from 8:45am to 10pm. Also on the West side of the city is the Lidl Magical Rink, part of Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. Purchase tickets in advance for your preferred time slot as the rink (London’s largest) is extremely popular and many days are already booked. Open 10am to 10pm every day until January 4th (aside from Christmas Day).
In the centre of London, ice rinks at both Somerset House and the London Eye promise to make your skating experience unique. Enjoy the atmosphere at the former made electric by the sound of London’s top DJs. Treat yourself to winter warmers at Tom’s Skate Lounge, and exclusively designed cupcakes, sweets and jewellery at the Tiffany Tuck Shop. Open until January 23rd with hour-long sessions starting at 10am and finishing at 10:15pm. Eyeskating is open daily until January 5th from 10am to 9pm. Sessions are available only if you also take a flight on the Eye, but this shouldn’t be too difficult to endure especially if you opt for a champagne flight.
If you prefer spontaneity to pre-booked sessions, head East towards Broadgate Ice Rink, the only location in London where you can “turn up and skate” (open daily until January 23rd; check the website for specific times and exceptions). The rink at The Tower of London provides perhaps the most exciting backdrop for your skating experience. Fix your favourite prisoner fantasy in your mind and take time out of hectic Christmas shopping to glide around under the battlements by the Thames. Ice Guides, Group Bookings and Corporate Hire are available (tickets may be purchased at the door subject to availability but advanced booking is recommended).
Finally, in the far East of the city, visit the Canary Wharf Ice Rink located in the magnificent setting of Canada Square Park, surrounded by the famous towers of Canary Wharf. This rink is open beyond all the others until February 20th. Open Monday to Saturday from 9:45am to 11pm and Sunday from 9:45am to 7:30pm. Prebookings are recommended.