Austria’s capital city makes much of its winter, and once more this year Vienna will see 500,000 happy skaters take to the ice in fine style. With the splendid Neo-Gothic pinnacles and towers of the Rathaus (City Hall) as a backdrop and leading down to the Burgtheater, Vienna Ice Dream – in German Vienner Eistraum – has once again transformed the Rathausplatz into a winter wonderland, and surely Vienna’s most beautiful skating rink.
The skating area includes more than 61,600 sq feet (5,600 sq meters) of synthetic ice in two circular rinks and connected by ice trails that wend their way for around half a mile (0.8 km) through the adjoining Rathaus Park. By night the City Hall is dramatically floodlit and the ice rinks prettily illuminated, and the whole square is dotted with tented stalls selling glühwein and hot chocolate, plus Viennese favorites, Käsespätzle (a take on macaroni cheese) and Gröstl (pork and onion hash topped with fried egg).
Skating on the Rathausplatz is free for children and beginners between 9am-4pm from Monday through Friday, and there are lockers on site for storing valuables; skates and helmets for kids can be hired. Various events take place throughout the season, which runs in 2013 from January 25 to March 10, including ice discos to the sounds of 1980s music or serene ice dances to waltzes, plus skating displays by professionals. After 5pm each evening, curling matches take place on the rink reserved for kids and novices (book ahead to secure a lane). Non-skaters can keep warm in the Panorama Tent, which offers views over the ice rinks.