Get yer skates on! The best ice rinks in Herts and beyond.
Ice ice baby! Nothing like a whizz around a rink to make you feel festive (followed by a mulled wine obvs). We've rounded up the best ones for your skating pleasure.
‘Tis the season… to make a prat of yourself by doing an impression of Jayne Torvill and promptly falling over. Here’s where’s best to bruise your coccyx and embarrass your children this festive season.
Watford Big Skate, Herts, Sat 24 Nov – Sun 13 Jan
The Big Skate will return to The Parade in Watford offering 45 minute skate sessions noon ’til 9pm. Morning sessions are usually quieter but if you don’t fancy taking to the ice at all, there’s a rink-side bar for spectators. Adult tickets £8.50, child tickets £6.50, family tickets £25
Meraki festival, St Albans, Herts, Fri 30 Nov – Sat 22 Dec
The pretty market town’s trad Christmas market being rebooted as the Meraki Festival this year which means, along with German style produce and a firepit bar, there’ll be a synthetic ice rink (so no cold tootsies). Pre-booking is advised as the rink only fits 35 people at a time. 11am – 11pm. Tickets from £5
Van Hage, Great Amwell, Herts, Thurs 15 Nov – Mon 7 Jan
Van Hage’s rink is back for its 11th year, this time with a lower capacity – which means more room for your triple axels, guys. Open 8am – 7.45pm, it’s undercover in a heated marquee and has a viewing platform and Ice Café. Skating aids are available to book in advance, plus parent and toddler sessions and club nights.
Lee Valley White Water Centre, Herts, Sat 1 Dec – Sun 6 Jan, weekends only
Along with the 45 minute skating slots (plus15 minutes to change into your boots), this year there you can take part in curling sessions – Winter Olympics, here you come. Plus there’s Santa’s grotto and a funfair running throughout Dec. Open Fri 5pm – 8pm, Sat and Sun 11am – 8pm.
Willows Activity Farm, Herts, Wed 21 Nov – Mon 24 Dec
Willows Activity Farm will have a pop-up synthetic rink as part of their Santa Spectacular along with loads of other kiddie activities from Santa’s grotto to Christmas letter writing and live reindeer. Open 10am – 5.15pm.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, Thurs 22 Nov – Sun 6 Jan
Why just have an ice rink when you can have a whole wonderland of Christmas activities? The ice rink at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is the biggest in the UK and is set around a charming Victorian bandstand that hosts live music. The rink is open from 10am-10pm daily so plenty of time to skate (50 minute sessions), catch a Christmas show, whizz round the fairground and have a brew in the Bavarian Village. New this year is Peter Pan On Icefeaturing Strictly’s Olga Sharutenko. Adult tickets £14.50, child tickets £9.50, family tickets £38.
Somerset House, London, Wed 14 Nov – Sun 13 Jan
The classic London rink experience – and there’s way more than just skating at Somerset House this Yuletide. Alongside the huge ice rink in the fountain courtyard, Fortnum and Mason’s Christmas Arcade returns with loads of pop-up shops offering food, tea, gifts and decorations, as well as Fortnum Lodge that’ll be serving all sorts of Christmas nibbles and tipple from mulled wine and champagne to boozy hot chocolate and cocktails. Sessions are one hour, core opening hours are 11.15am – 10.15pm. Adult tickets from £11, child tickets from £8.50
John Lewis & Partners, Oxford St, Thurs 15 Nov – Sun 6 Jan
Shops aren’t just shops any more, they’re experiential events doncha know. Case in point – this brand new (rather compact) pop-up rink on John Lewis & Partner’s flagship store’s rooftop. Rink-side, there are wooden cabins available for dinner bookings and hot gin cocktails. On Wednesdays and Thursdays you can catch a gin masterclasses by Sipsmith London before you hit the ice. Sessions are 30 minutes, 5pm – 10pm on weekdays, 12pm – 10pm on weekends. Adult tickets £8, child tickets £6
Natural History Museum, Thurs 25 Oct-Sun 20 Jan
Triple salchows first, triceratopses after? The Natural History Museum’s ice rink has a 30ft Christmas tree centrepiece, fairy lights and an alpine style cafe/bar that overlooks the rink. Sessions run for 50 mins and kids can get lessons with The Penguin Skate Club on Saturday mornings. Opening times vary but core hours are 10am-9pm every day except for Christmas Day. Adult tickets from £12.65, child tickets from £8.80, family tickets from £39.60
Tower of London, Fri 23 Nov – Sun 6 Jan
Apparently if you knock anyone over on this ice rink, you get sent to the Tower. Set in the historical grounds, at dusk the pop-up rink is illuminated by a light display set against the castle walls. Although early morning sessions are best for the little ones with penguin skate aids available on a first come, first serve basis (um, can I have one?). Sessions are 45 minutes, 11am-9pm. Adult tickets £14.50, child tickets £12.50, family tickets £46
Winterville, Clapham Common, London, Thurs 15 Nov – Sat 22 Dec
Clapham sure know how to throw a party. This year’s Winterville has a 600 square metre rink (with penguin aids), a circus, crazy golf, a fairground, cinema, puppet shows, kids activities and the truck stop where you can stop for a bite. If you fancy non icy skating there’s also a roller disco. Opens 3pm-10pm weekdays, 11am-10pm weekends. Early bird adult tickets from £8, child tickets from £6.50, family tickets from £26
Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Fri 23 Nov – Sun 6 Jan
A ticket to the pop-up rink at Henry VIII’s old digs in Surrey will get you a 45 minute skating session, a stunning backdrop and a rink-side café. The main opening hours are 10am-9pm, with the evening sessions being illuminated with twinkly lights. Adult tickets from £14.50, child tickets from £12.50
, Parkers Piece, Cambs, Sat 17 Nov – Sun 6 Jan
The North Pole Festival’s 770m² ice rink returns to Cambs this year with a brand spanking new clear polygon roof proofed for English weather (hurray!) There’ll also be a fairground, an alpine style lodge serving festive cocktails for spectators and an authentic German swing grill dishing out bratwursts and burgers.
Buckingham, Mon 26 Nov – Sun 2 Dec
This pop-up rink is at Cattle Pens on High Street and will be open 3pm-9pm on weekdays and 11am-9pm on weekends. A ticket will get you a half an hour skate, plus 10 minutes to change in and out of your skates. Adult ticket £6, child tickets £4.50
Oxford Ice Rink (all year)
Not an outdoor venue, but worth the mention because its one of the biggest in the area. They also hold toddler and family skates and the odd Throwback Thursday Disco if you’re really in the mood for embarrassing yourself.
Planet Ice, Milton Keynes (all year)
Another all-year round indoor rink, Planet Ice will also be hosting Cinderella on Ice on Weds 12 Dec, should you fancy leaving the skating to the professionals (probably for the best).
Words: Nancy Serle