As the cooler weather descends and the run-up to Christmas begins, the traditional ice skating rinks begin to open across Britain. Many of the outdoor ice rinks are set up in historic or picturesque areas, so you get the added benefit of seeing Great Britain’s landmarks as you skate the rinks.
Even if skating isn’t for you, there are often other festive attractions incorporated nearby, such as Christmas markets. And the rinks have plenty of cafes on site too, so you can enjoy a meal, a snack, or a drink while you sit and watch the skaters. The rinks are especially atmospheric as dusk draws in and, with sparkling Christmas lights, it’s an enjoyable winter celebration to witness. Plus, it’s always entertaining to watch other people out on the ice, skating around elegantly, or fumbling to find their skating feet!
Here are five of the best places to ice skate in Britain this winter:
The Eden Project, Cornwall
Usually famed for its tropical biomes, the Eden Project is home to an outdoor skate rink from October 24, 2009 to 21 Feb, 2010. Skating sessions are best booked in advance and last for 40 minutes per slot. From early November, they’ve also introduced a chance to have a go at curling.
Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire
This winter ice rink is installed on the grounds of the historic Winchester cathedral, which provides a stunning backdrop for ice skating. In 2009, it runs from 27 November to 3 January 2010 and it’s surrounded by an open-air German-style Christmas Market that runs to December 20. Skating sessions at Winchester Cathedral last for one hour and bookings can be made in advance.
Set against the backdrop of the 13th century Clifford’s Tower, the Law Courts and the Castle Museum, in the centre of York, you will find the Ice Factor, an outdoor ice rink that is certainly very atmospheric. The York rink is open from 14th November 2009 to 3rd January 2010, with skating sessions lasting for one hour. Book in advance to secure a place in your desired time slot.
Hampton Court Palace, London
The historic Hampton Court Palace, on the banks of the river Thames in London, has opened The Hampton Court ice rink from 28th November 2009 to 10th January 2010. Skating sessions last for one hour and, if you’d also like to combine your visit with a tour of Hampton Court Palace, you can buy a joint ticket.
Newcastle Upon Tyne
In Newcastle, in the north of England, an ice skating rink has been established by the Life Science Centre. It’s located in the centre of the city, on Times Square. In addition to skating, you may want to take the opportunity to go to the Science Centre, or enjoy some of their festive extras, like Santa and Skate deals.
So, whether you are looking to ice skate, watch skaters, or just enjoy the cheery Christmas markets and festivities, Britain has some great places for you.