Death spirals, bunny hops, twizzles, spirals, back turns… or clinging onto the rail (or unlucky person next to you) for dear life. There’s no better way to get into the festive season than ice skating. Even if you do spend the time making a complete fool of yourself. We’ve pulled together the best rinks across the world for you to visit and get your Christmas sparkle on.
The Rockefeller Center, New York, USA.
Perhaps the don of all rinks, the Rockefeller Center makes skating and christmas dreams come true all in one place. Situated in the heart of the city, under the iconic NY Christmas tree seen in Home Alone 2, the ice rink is magical. Christmas lights surround the area and the skating is surprisingly intimate, having space for only 150 skaters at a time. Packages include, meeting Santa, dining at the Rockefeller, heated igloo pass, warming hot chocolate and there’s even an option to enjoy The Rockettes skating show.
Vienna Ice Dream, Austria.
Only last year did Vienna open Europe’s largest ice skating rink. The fairytale romance of Vienna is unbeatable in winter and candles and lights illuminate the city’s Christmas world. Skaters can enjoy two huge rinks and numerous winding paths accompanied by waltzing tunes to inspire the best skating moves. Finish the day off exploring the wonder of Vienna’s enchanting Christmas markets, warming up with mulled wine or hot chocolate.
The Rideau Canal Skateway, Ottawa, Canada.
Each winter, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal, becomes the world’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink. The Skateway winds through the the heart of Ottawa, cover a total length of 7.8 km. A whopping number of 20,000 visitors come every day and enjoy the unforgettable experience of this vast ice rink. But don’t worry about crowds, the are is bigger than 90 Olympic-sized hockey rinks, you’ll have plenty of room. This year, Lonely Planet voted Canada as the number 1 place to visit and a trip to its stunning capital Ottawa is a great Christmas getaway. Stop at one of the food stands and enjoy the city’s famous ‘BeaverTails’ pastry, a deep friend cinnamon treat. Yum.
Shichahai Lake, Beijing, China.
A unique skating experience is pedaling an ice bicycle across the Shichahai Lake in China. The beautiful area is surrounded by temples and stunning scenery in an utterly fascinating corner of the world. Locals and visitors spend time gliding across the lake, or down the 5.5 metre-tall ice slide! The atmosphere is golden and the sight of hundreds of families scraping across the rink on ice bikes is hilarious. A dragon boat sits proudly on the rink and a popular game to get involved in is Cu Qui, a ball kicking competition across the ice.
VDNKh Rink, Moscow, Russia.
Russia’s largest rink, covering more than 20,000 square metres, was opened a couple of years ago in Moscow’s exhibition centre. The area’s shape resembles a giant key and is divided into different sections including a hockey box and the lovers path. The backlights illuminate 5,000 square metres of ice, buildings, fences and a pedestrian rink. Every day at 5pm, the rink turns into a giant media screen, displaying various scenes to enjoy until midnight. Moscow is lit up wonderfully at Christmas and it has a number of fantastic ice rinks, including the rink at Red Square.
Eiffel Tower Rink, Paris, France.
Built 57 metres above ground, the ice rink on the first level of the Eiffel Tower is magnificent. Skating with a view of the city, illuminated in festive splendour, is unbeatable. The ice rink and skates are free of charge, so anyone can enjoy the magic elevated 2,045 square foot rink. Winter food stalls offer warming beverages and hearty food, and the tower even offers starter ice hockey sessions. If you’re feeling brave.
Tower of London, London, England.
Glide, or tumble, around one of London’s most iconic landmarks. Located in the dry moat, the Tower’s ice rink offers a location steeped in history and grandeur. Skating in the shadows of the battlements, and enjoy the view of the ancient fortress and the river Thames. Special events take place at the rink throughout the season, and the perfect way to finish off skating is to visit the city’s Winter Wonderland. A jolly grotto of markets, entertainment and rides lighting up Hyde Park. Another favourite rink in the city is at Somerset House, a festive rink in a beautiful traditional setting.
Lake Joux, Jura Mountains, Switzerland.
The unspoiled nature of the high valley and glistening Lake Joux attracts visitors year round. In winter, the vast lake completely freezes offering free ice skating fun in a wild country setting. You can access the frozen lake from any point, nestle in the Jura Mountains, making the trip hassle free. Vendors set up stalls on the ice, selling hot food and drink for skaters all day long.
Keystone Lake, Colorado, USA.
Colorado is a Christmas wonderland. Skiers and snowboards flock to the area for guaranteed soft snow and stunning sights all season. On the USA’s Thanksgiving weekend, Keystone Lake’s ice rink is opened and it spans a whopping five football fields. Skates and hockey gear can be rented rink side. The Lakeside village is charming and offers numerous lodgings and restaurants. What’s more, the mountain provides a fantastic ski area and snow tubing for more festive fun.
Fuji-Q Park, Fujiyoshida, Japan.
Ice skating with a view of Mount Fuji: it can’t get better than that. The Fuji-Q is an amusement park with three skating rings and plenty of rides. The rinks are surrounded by roller coasters and an observation wheel. The Takabisha, a brand new ride, has the steepest drop in the world, with an angle of 121°. The ice rinks include the crystal lagoon, the conifer forest and an indoor rink named the theatre rink. Lessons for beginners or advanced are available for visitors to try and master the art of ice skating.
Where’s your favourite ice rink? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @B Sunglassesunglasses