Winter Sports, London
There's an opportunity to Skate at Somerset House in Central London between November and January every year. It is known as 'London's most glamorous ice rink'. There are a number of sessions available including Skate Club Night and Skate School and Penguin Club.
Please check out the website for further information on ice skating including times and prices.
Equipment: Skates can be hired. But do wrap up warmly! Especially gloves and hat.
The Canary Wharf ice rink, open from mid-November to mid-February, is the one we use most often as we both work in Canary Wharf, just a couple of minutes' walk from the rink. The rink is somewhat smaller than the one at Somerset House, but because it's not as well known and located away from the main tourist part, tickets are easier to buy - you can just walk up to the box office right before the session starts. Weekends tend to be 'family time', and evenings - 'bankers time', which is reflected in the crowd type, choice of music (and presence or otherwise of anybody not entirely sober!) on the rink. Fridays and Saturdays are 'club night' evenings with louder music. And staff tend to turn a blind eye at any time if you want to practice your figure skating tricks :)
Prices for adults are 10GBP per one hour session on weekdays before 17.30 and 12.00GBP for weekends and weekday evenings. There is no separate charge for skate hire, but you'll need a 1GBP coin to operate lockers.
Somerset House, in central London, hosts an ice rink in its courtyard from December to the beginning of January which can hold about 250-300 skaters for each of an hour-long skating sessions. There are skating lessons for both kids and adults if you are a novice, and workout sessions with members of English National Ballet once a day during the week. Although there is music at every session (a mix of pop and Christmas favourites), special club nights are hosted on Fridays and Saturdays.
Somerset House is one of the more popular skating venues in London so you should definitely book in advance, which is possible through Ticketmaster. Tickets are about 15GBP/session and this includes skates hire (you can bring your own but there is no discount for this). Bag storage is available at 1GBP per 2 bags.
Equipment: Bring gloves and a hat. And skates, if you have them!
Somerset House on the Strand will be opening its outdoor ice rink again this winter - according to the website (below) from the 25th Nov.
You need to book tickets in advance for this I think as it gets quite busy...
Equipment: You can get everything you need there. Wear something warm, obviously!
I took this picture in December 2006 as I was passing by. This area is normally a grassy lawn, but in the winter it is turned into an ice-rink. As you can see, it wasn't very crowded - but it was late morning in the middle of the week, so I'm sure it is well-used at other times. I'm afraid I can't tell you anything about charges, as I didn't have time to go down and investigate.
I have visited 4 ice skating rinks in London.
The first was the Marble Arch Ice Rink. Situated in the middle of an island in the middle of a thoroughfare of traffic, we entered it vis the subway.
The rink was small, my shoes were too big for me (I only managed one lap they were so sore!), it wasnt that well organised.
Then we visited the Natural History Museum Ice Rink.
It is set in a BEAUTIFUL location, next to one of Londons most intricate buildings and some tall trees that line the road. It was well organised, there were quite a few monitors on the rink at the same time as the customers, so if you needed help they were there.
They were stricter in getting people off (and on) in time and was a far nicer experience.
The other two rinks were by the Tower of London and the City Hall. They were also nice, but the Natural History rink gets my vote! It is amazing how they froze the ice in these locations, and KEPT it at the right temperature for quite a while. Very well done! If you can do this, do, it is great fun, especially for the kids.
Equipment: You dont need to bring your own ice skates, they will be provided for you.
Ice skating on the Tower of London's Old Moat - this is a new venue this year and is becoming an incredibly popular winter activity in London with so many famous landmarks installing a temporary ice rink for the Nov-Jan period. Check the website to see if there's one near you!
Equipment: Boots are included in the price of the ticket but make sure you wear warm clothing!
No!!! It's the Ice Wall at Somerset House!! For £40 you get two ice picks, a pair of crampons and expert tuition to guide you all the way to the top! With two inclines, one almost vertical the other not quite so, this is an activity suitable for all levels of climbing abilities! Who could resist the challenge?? Well..... me actually ;-)
Equipment: For 40 quid they provide you with all the ropes you need!
Between November and the end of January there are several places to ice skate in London - but make sure you book first as this is a very popular activity! There are temporary rinks at Somerset House, The Natural History Museum, Cardinal Place Victoria Street, Greenwich, Kew Gardens amongst others. Tickets are timed and cost around £10 per hour. At Somerset House there are NO reductions for bringing your own skates.
Equipment: Boots are provided but bring your own if you have them.
If you are in London during the festive season and fancy some ice skating there are every year more and more places/buildings offering facilities. The latest is the Tower of London, and they have created a rink on the moat. Its very popular so try to prebook or turn up early...a great way to spend an evening!
For the past few years a skating rink has been put up in the courtyard to Somerset house (Just off the Strand) over December and January
The setting is superb, although at around ten quid for a skate it's not cheap. Kids however get in for about six quid.
Here's a surprise, I never knew about this.
In the courtyard of Somerset House, home of the Courtauld Institute, an open-air skating rink is laid out on a crisp, clear, January evening.
Equipment: Hire skates on the spot. GBP 9.50 for adults, not cheap but it's just such an unusual experience. End of November to end of January.
There are some places to enjoy ice skating outdoors during the winter. A nice one is in Marble Arch.
Make sure you know how to skate, I broke my elbow last December 19th.
If you are an European Community citizen do not need insurance at all, just go to the emergency room in a hospital.