If you enjoy ice skating, or if you’d like to try it, there are many ice rinks to choose from during the winter months. Each year from around November onwards an array of temporary festive ice rinks pop up in locations across the city. Outside the Christmas period, there are also several indoor permanent ice rinks where you can get your skates on all year round.
Here’s the lowdown on the top places to ice skate in London. If you go, be sure to book in advance, as sessions do sell out.
Outdoor Christmas ice rinks
Skate at Somerset House
Set in the vast enclosed courtyard of this palatial Georgian building, the Somerset House rink covers 900 square metres and is a joy to skate on. A 40-foot high Fortnum and Mason Christmas tree stands sentinel next to the rink and there’s a separate children’s area with polar bear skate mates to help young skaters to find their balance on the ice. You can warm up at the cosy Skate Lounge cafe and bar area, which is next to the rink. Wheelchair users are welcome to skate at Somerset House whenever it is open, and Ice Marshals provide all on-ice support for wheelchair users at no extra charge. Read my Somerset House review here: Ice skating at Somerset House.
Skate at Somerset House is open from 13th November 2019 to January 12th, 2020.
Natural History Museum
The popular Natural History Museum ice rink is in the museum courtyard. The museum building is a work of art with spires and arches and stone carvings inspired by nature. A 30-foot Christmas tree twinkles in the middle of the rink, and there’s a cafe bar for hot chocolate afterwards. Entrance to the museum is free. All skating sessions are wheelchair accessible, and there are some quieter Accessible only skate sessions throughout the season which are suitable for skaters with additional needs.
The Natural History Museum ice rink is open from 19th October, 2019 until 12th January, 2020.
The Tower of London ice rink sits beneath the walls of the historic landmark, in the dry moat, with views of the River Thames. When we went (during the day) it was less busy than some of the other rinks, and I really enjoyed skating there. There’s a cafe next to the ice rink.
The Tower of London ice rink is open from 16th November, 2019 until 5th January, 2020.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Each winter a large area of Hyde Park becomes Winter Wonderland. The outdoor ice rink, which is said to be the UK’s largest, is set around the park’s Victorian bandstand. If you need some skating help, you can book an Ice Guide for your session. The attraction also offers live shows, fairground rides and a Christmas market. The rink is wheelchair accessible.
The Winter Wonderland ice rink is open from November 21st, 2019 until January 5th, 2020.
Hampton Court Palace
The ice rink at Hampton Court Palace is 1,040 square metres and is right in front of the sixteenth century building. King Henry VIII lived at Hampton Court and hosted lavish banquets there. You can read a full review by Cathy Winston of what it’s like to skate at Hampton Court here: Ice skating at Hampton Court Palace, London
The Hampton Court Palace ice rink is open from November 22nd, 2019 until 5th January, 2020.
Winterville Clapham Common
The Winterville Christmas experience at Clapham Common isn’t happening in 2019. It usually offers a 600 metre-square ice rink, as well as festive films, tasty street food, funfair rides, live music, Mexican wrestling, Plonk Golf and more and is a great place for a fun festive trip. Hopefully it will be back for 2020.
The ice rink at Canary Wharf is having a break this winter, but bear it in mind for future years as it’s enormous – it covers 1200 square metres. As this is primarily a business district, the rink is generally less busy at weekends than it is during the week. Next to the rink there’s a viewing deck, The Grandstand Bar.
Permanent indoor ice rinks
Alexandra Palace started life as a Victorian recreation centre, and today it’s still a popular entertainment venue, and is known affectionally as Ally Pally. The indoor ice rink offers skating lessons as well as a festive winter programme, Ally Pally Winter Skate.
Alexandra Palace ice rink is open all year round.
Streatham Ice Arena
There’s been an ice rink in Streatham since 1931, and the venue was completely renovated in 2013. With an area of 1800 square metres, the rink is the UK’s biggest, and offers skating lessons with professional coaches, as well as public sessions. The rink runs weekly inclusive, quiet skate sessions with support from a skate marshall.
Streatham Ice Arena is open all year round.
More on London
If you’d like a moneysaving sightseeing pass for your trip to the city, The London Pass includes a one-day hop-on hop-off bus tour, as well as free entry to more than 80 attractions, tours and museums, such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and The View from The Shard. The pass also gives you fast-track entry at some of the most popular attractions, so you don’t have to waste time queueing.
If you’d like a London guidebook, I recommend both the Lonely Planet London Travel Guide and the London Marco Polo Travel Guide. If you need accommodation, check out my post about family-friendly places to stay in the capital.
Each month I publish a round-up of great things to do in London, so do pop back to see it, or you can subscribe to my blog (by entering your email address in the box on the right, where it says ‘YOU’D LIKE MY POSTS BY EMAIL?’) and it will be emailed to you automatically.
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