It’s that time of the year in London. As the days get shorter and the air gets colder and colder, people are strapping on ice skates and spinning in circles. Well, if you’re me, you are just falling down and bruising every part of yourself, but for other people the winter ice rinks across London are a highlight of the year.
It’s been quite a while since the Thames River froze hard enough to allow skating on its mysterious brown waters so these days lots of London’s iconic institutions lay the ice out in front, set up the hot chocolate stands and let the figure skating leaps and falls begin. There are ice rinks at the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, in the courtyard of Somerset House, and at the Natural History Museum.
Hyde Park hosts a winter wonderland which includes an ice rink, and office hubs Broadgate and Canary Wharf both have ice rinks. This year the Westfield Shopping Centre will fill its atrium with an ice rink until January 8th.
Reopened after a £2.3 million refurbishment, the permanent ice rink at Alexandra Palace is fabulously located on a hilltop in north London with the backdrop of London’s favourite Victorian-architecture venue ‘Ally Pally’. Go to a gig or ice skating at Alexandra Palace just to look at the view over London.
If you’re after something more professional head for the Lee Valley ice rink which is a permanent set up in east London, opened by the UK’s Olympic winning sweethearts Torvill and Dean in 1984. They have displays, a Christmas Ice Spectacular every year, and also classes in skating.
But really, if you’re in London during winter, it’s the spectacular skating experiences you’re after: the royal palaces and iconic sites. Check the schedules because closing dates vary, for example the Tower of London skating finishes on January 8th, Somerset House on January 22nd, Broadgate on February 18th.