Ice skating at Rockefeller Center is a quintessential New York City winter experience. The center, in the heart of Manhattan, is decorated for the holiday season, with the massive Rockefeller Christmas tree as a centerpiece. The ice skating rink, the hub of holiday activities, can accommodate approximately 150 skaters at a time and is 122 feet long and 59 feet wide.
History of the Rockefeller Rink
The Rink at Rock Center first opened on Christmas Day in 1936, when it was originally called the skating pond. Ever since it has served as an iconic backdrop for movies (like Elf and Home Alone 2) as well a place where celebs like Jack Nicholson and Serena Williams can be spotted. More than 150,000 visitors don their skates at the rink every season.
How to Visit
The rink at Rockefeller Center typically opens Columbus Day weekend and stays open through early April. It is open for 90-minute skating sessions every two hours, starting at 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. with the last session at 10:30 p.m. to midnight.
For the 2018-2019 season, adult admission was $25 to $33 depending on the day and admission for children under 11 and seniors was $15. Group rates on specified dates for adults and teens 15 and over offered significant discounts.
Season passes for 2018-2019 started at $275 (use of a locker is an additional cost). The Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center website will have the most current information. Time your visit appropriately to get the most skating for your money. Skate Rentals, charged per session, are an additional $12.50, whether paying regular admission or with a lesson.
2018-2019 season prices listed half-hour private lessons at $50 per person, daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m, and included one hour of skate time in addition to the lesson. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-332-7655 for more information and to make reservations.
It is extremely easy to visit the Rockefeller ice rink via public transit. The nearest subways include the F, B, and D to 47-50 Streets-Rockefeller Center; 6 to 51st Street; or 1 to 50th Street. The Ice Rink is in the center of the Rockefeller Center complex of buildings between 47th and 50th Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues (Rockefeller Center Map).
If you are worried about crowds, there are a couple of options to guarantee access to skating in Rockefeller Center. Their First Skate package is the only way to reserve specific skating time which runs from 7-8 a.m. For $50 to $65 a person (2018-2019 prices), you could skate and enjoy complimentary coffee/hot chocolate. For $55 to $90 a person, you could have breakfast at the Rock Center Cafe after your skating session with their "Bountiful Breakfast" package, on specific dates.
If early-rising isn't for you, the VIP Skate package (which ranged from $60 to $150 per person, depending on the date you chose) offered 90-minute-long reserved skate sessions, bypassing of lines, rentals, beverages, and fresh baked cookies.
If you like to combine skating with some other holiday offerings, the Rockettes + Skating Package is available for select dates. You get the VIP Skate package along with a ticket to see the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes and a three-course meal at either the Rock Center Cafe or Sea Grill.
If you're more interested in ice skating than in saying you ice skated at Rockefeller Center, the article, Ice Skating in New York City offers some other options.
Tips for Visitors
In addition to the special package deals and guaranteed access tickets, there are other ways to maximize your skating experience.
- Early morning during holiday periods and weekdays before 4 p.m. tend to be the least crowded times to skate in Rock Center. It's also less crowded earlier and later in the season, compared to peak season, which runs from Thanksgiving through New Year's.
- While ice skating at Rockefeller Center is an experience that many New York City visitors desire, keep in mind that you're paying a premium to be able to say "I skated at Rockefeller Center," despite the small skating surface and the often crowded atmosphere. Ice skating prices at Rockefeller Center are most expensive during peak holiday periods, and the rink is at its busiest at those times as well.
Other Things to Do in the Area
This area of Midtown has some of the best things to do for visitors. Besides the skating rink, Rockefeller Center has Top of the Rock, a massive year-round observation deck that overlooks the Empire State Building and the New York City skyline. Also within the complex is Radio City Music Hall, where you can tour or see performances such as the Rockettes. Around the corner, you'll find St. Patricks Cathedral (established in 1879, it is the site of many festive Christmas events) and Fifth Ave's iconic holiday window displays.