Get your skates on!
Pop-up ice rinks are back for the winter and whether you’re Olympic standard or a ‘cling on’ like me, they’re great for a family day out, or a fun slippy-slidey Christmas party, and there are several in Berks and beyond. Check out my round-up of all the best ones and I’ll see you in A&E, I mean, on the ice.
Windsor on Ice, Alexandra Gardens, Windsor, 28 Nov – Jan 3
There are two rinks here. The main one is under cover and there’s a smaller open-air rink. There’s also food and other attractions including an ice bar and grill. Sessions are for 45 mins. Tickets: £12.50 adults, £10.50 children. Skate hire included.
Alexandra Gardens, Barry Avenue, Windsor, SL4 3HY. Tel: 01753 743915. windsoronice.com
Bracknell Olympic-sized ice rink, John Nike Leisuresport Complex, Bracknell, all year round
Ok, yes it is open year round, and it isn’t outdoors, but worth a mention as it’s massive and there’s a special Winter Wonderland Family Session on 8 Dec. Perfect for families to come along, skate alongside the starlight back drop and through clouds of snow. Better yet, it’s only £5 entry per person including skate hire.
Camberley on Ice, Camberley – 1 Dec to 1 Jan
Drawing inspiration from the European Christmas markets the London Road Recreation Ground will be transformed to a magical winter wonderland with a covered ice rink, a winter lodge café serving treats, and wooden style chalets for market stalls. Tickets are: £12.50 adults, £10.50 children, £42 family.
Millets Farm Centre, Frilford, near Abingdon, Sat 19 Nov – Mon 2 Jan
Millet’s skate rink is bigger and better apparently (according to them!), and more to the point, it’s one of the few outdoor rinks nearby. It’s open 7 days a week, skating sessions last 45 minutes and there are push-along skating seals for littlies. On Mondays (28 Nov, 5 Dec, 12 Dec, 19 Dec) between 5-6.30pm kids can skate with Pikachu and then scoff a tea box and hot chocolate. Adults £9.49, kids under 16, £8.49, Adult & Toddler (Child under 4) £14.99.
Oxford Ice Rink, Oxpens Road Oxford, all year round
Not an outdoor one admittedly, but worth mentioning because Oxford Ice Rink is one of the biggest in the area by a country mile. Littlies can waddle around with these push-along penguins (above) and you’ll no doubt be accosted by Slade, The Pogues and and Cliff Richard in equal measure.
Planet Ice, Milton Keynes, all year round
Another professional indoor facility that you can just drop into as a family, but also worth knowing this one puts on disco nights for the under 13s, party nights for adults, and there’s an Alice in Wonderland Christmas Show on 7 Dec if you’re really a sucker for punishment.
Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey – 25 Nov to 8 Jan
There’s a seriously stunning backdrop for your triple salchow at Henry VIII’s old gaff in Surrey, floodlit with colours for the evening. Sessions are one hour (with 15 mins built into that to get your boots off at the end) and there are quieter morning sessions for young children and families. You can also indulge in an afternoon tea. Tickets vary according to peak and off-peak times. There’s also a 10 per cent discount for early bird bookings. Expect to pay about £10-£12 each.
Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Tel: 02920 230130 hamptoncourtpalaceicerink.co.uk
Skate at Somerset House, London – Nov 17 to Jan 15
London’s most famous rink is in the historic courtyard at Somerset House. A tie up with Fornum & Mason means you can have champagne or hot chocolate, truffles, fondue and blinis in an Alpine-themed lodge or shop for presents in a pop-up arcade. There are also skating club nights with DJs. You can even book a guide to help you out on the ice! This is my kind of skating.
Somerset House, The Strand, London, WC2R 1LA somersethouse.org.uk
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London – Nov 20 to Jan 3
If you’re planning a day in London this Christmas, then Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is a must. It’s packed with all things Christmasy, including, of course, an ice rink – the largest open-air ice rink in the UK. It’s set around Hyde Park’s Victorian bandstand under a canopy of sparkling lights. There are also circus shows, market stalls and rides and attractions. Tickets vary according to times, from £9.50 adult and £7.50 child (off-peak) to £15.50 adult, £10.50 child during peak times.
Tower of London, Central London, Weds 16 Nov – Tues 3 Jan 2017
It’s the moat that’s been turned into an ice rink at the Tower. I’m liking the sound of the Eis Haus Ice Experience, where you can sit at an ice bar and sip a cocktail out of a glass also made out of ice – or you could opt for a fondue board and hot choc in the Dip-Dunk Lodge. If you’re getting the impression I’m more into the post and apres skate, you’re goddam right!
National History Museum, Kensington, London – 27 Oct to 8 Jan
Combine a visit to the dinosaurs or the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition with a turn on the ice at this Kensington rink. The V&A’s Records and Rebels exhibition is also nearby. Sessions are 50 minutes and there’s a cafe bar serving snacks, and hot drinks, including mulled wine. Tickets: £12.65 adults, £8.80 children, including skate hire.
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 5BD
Have I missed any? If there’s a good Christmas rink in or close to Berks that’s not on the list let me know – and if you go skating this Christmas I’d love to hear about it.