Get your skates on and take a spin on the ice this festive season at one of London's best ice rinks. Temporary open-air ice rinks pop up at iconic landmarks throughout London between October and January, including the Natural History Museum and the Tower of London. Carve up a storm in front of a beautiful backdrop and fill up on festive treats like mulled wine and mince pies at a rink-side cafe. Here's our pick of the best ice rinks in town.
Just off the Strand on the north bank of the river Thames, Somerset House is home to one of London's most atmospheric ice rinks. It occupies the cobblestone courtyard of the grand neoclassical building which was first built as a Tudor palace in 1547 and then completely rebuilt in 1775. Its sheltered setting staves off the winter chill and the adjoining Fortnum's Lodge serves warming winter treats like mulled wine, mince pies and cheese fondues. After strutting your stuff on the ice, shop for gifts in the West Wing where you'll find a Fortnum & Mason pop-up shop filled with tea, biscuits and decorations from the historic London department store.
Dates: November 15, 2017 to January 14, 2018
Price: From £7.50 for off-peak time slots
Winter Wonderland is an annual Hyde Park pop-up that gets bigger and better every year. The sprawling site is home to fairground rides, traditional German beer halls, a circus, food stalls, grottos and 200+ Bavarian-style wooden chalets selling gifts and trinkets. Set around Hyde Park's Victorian bandstand, the ice rink is officially the UK's largest open-air skating rink and is open from 10am until 10pm throughout the season. Enjoy live music from the bandstand as you take to the ice or head to the spectator's platform with a hot chocolate in hand if you'd rather join in the festive fun from a distance.
Dates: November 17, 2017 to January 1, 2018
Price: From £9.50 for off-peak time slots
Combine a culture fix and a festive fix in one go with a trip to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington where you can skate laps in front of one of London's most iconic buildings. After exploring natural wonders and dazzling dinosaur displays in the free museum, head outside and get into the festive spirit at the open-air ice rink. The stunning Romanesque building provides a striking backdrop, especially at night when thousands of LED fairy lights decorate the trees that line the rink. Refuel with a hot chocolate and a sweet treat at the cafe bar which features a large viewing platform.
Dates: October 28, 2017 to January 7, 2018
Price: From £12.65
Where better to soak up London's ancient history this winter than by skating on an ice rink within a moat by the Tower of London. This medieval masterpiece by the river Thames has served as a fortress, a palace and a prison and has a long history dating back to 1078. It's one of the city's best known historic attractions and looks all the more dramatic at night when lights illuminate the castle walls. After a session on the ice, head to the cafe bar to fill up on hearty snacks like homemade sausage rolls and pies from the Pie Man of Chelsea Green, washed down with a mulled wine, a rum punch or a hot chocolate.
Dates: November 17, 2017 to January 2, 2018
Price: From £14.50
Once the historic home of Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace provides a majestic backdrop for a seasonal skate. The vast ice rink sits in front of the 16th-century Tudor Palace, right by the river Thames in southwest London. Measuring more than 1,000 square meters, it's one of the biggest open-air rinks in the UK and features a ski lodge-style cafe for festive food and drink including homemade pies and mulled wine. Make a day of it by visiting the place itself to explore over 500 years of royal history and don't miss the immense Tudor kitchens, the state apartments and the Royal Maze.
Dates: November 24, 2017 to January 7, 2018
Price: From £14
As part of the Greenwich Wintertime Festival, you can skate in the courtyard of the Old Royal Naval College, a stunning World Heritage-listed site designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The festival is billed as 'London's contemporary winter festival' and features an artisan food market, live music and theater, street performers and stalls selling modern crafts. The site is decorated with 500+ Christmas trees and there's an alternative Santa's grotto for kids. A ticket to the festival includes access to all entertainment and a special ice skating performance by a group of world class freestylers. You'll need to pay extra for an individual ice skating session.
Dates: December 1 to 31
Price: Entry to the festival costs from £15. Ice skating costs an additional £10.
Take your ice skating to new levels at London's first rooftop ice rink at the Tobacco Dock in Wapping. This converted tobacco warehouse is home to Skylight, a rooftop bar with stunning skyline views and live DJs. Its winter program features a range of festive street food stalls selling fondue and Christmas burgers as well as seasonal cocktails and mulled wine. The rink may be on the small side but you can't beat the spectacular views of the city as you whoosh round the ice. Numbers are strictly limited to 50 people at a time and tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis.
Dates: From November 2, 2017
Price: Entry to Skylight is free. Ice skating costs £10 for 45 minutes.