The days are getting shorter and there’s a definite chill in the air… Yes, here in the UK, it looks like winter’s here again. We’re breaking out the faux fur, shopping for winter boots, eating like hamsters preparing for hibernation and trying to get our heads round the clock change and the fact it feels like midnight at 8pm.
But instead of holing up at home in your thermals, why not wrap up all cosy and venture out into the world to have some fun in the freezer? Here’s a sneaky peek at 10 of the world’s best reasons to get outside and get your skates on…
1) Somerset House, London
Let’s start right here, in the beating heart of my nation’s capital. The popular and long-established ice rink at Somerset House is set in a gorgeous 18th century courtyard and overlooked by a 40 foot, Tiffany-decorated, Christmas tree. A glamorous scene made even more impressive after dark when strategically placed, flickering lights transform the façade of the house into a classical masterpiece.
2) Eiffel Tower, Paris
The city of love and lights lives up to its name with the construction of an ice rink on the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower. The new festive destination du-jour for hopeless romantics, this rink is small and intimate, catering for just 80 skaters at a time. With a to-die-for city view and seductively, wintery treats such as hot chocolate and spiced wine available to buy, this is one of le best.
And if you decide that you’d rather be able to see the iconic structure itself while you skate, check out the rink that’s part of the annual Christmas market at Trocadéro opposite. Now that’s what I call a view.
3) Potsdamer Platz, Berlin
Check out the Winter World at Potsdamer Platz, the public square in the centre ofBerlin. This seasonal celebration of all things winter gives punters the opportunity to skate an ice rink framed by some of the city’s most important landmarks. And the fun doesn’t end there. Browse the charming Christmas markets, take in a variety of shows and concerts, stop by the Alpine Hut selling traditional Austrian cuisine, try your hand at some curling or simply indulge your inner child by hopping in a rubber tyre and sliding down Europe’s largest, mobile, toboggan track – a 70 metre long ski slope, covered with 14 tonnes of snow. Wheeeee!
4) Rockefeller Center, New York City
The world-famous rink at the Rockefeller Center was actually a happy accident. Set up temporarily in 1936 to attract shoppers to the somewhat hidden ‘sunken plaza’, it was such a big hit the powers that be decided to keep it and it is now one of the big, winter attractions of the city. Slip and slide beneath the hero-sized Prometheus sculpture and against the twinkling backdrop of an enormous tree decorated with over 30,000 multi-coloured lights and topped off with a Swarovski star.
5) Yosemite Park, California
And now for something completely different. Hearken to the call of the great outdoors and leave those big, city lights behind for Yosemite’s stunning, snow-capped national park. At Yosemite, ice skating has been a tradition since the 1930s and the Curry Village ice rink nestles beneath the watchful eye of the mighty Half Dome and El Capitan mountains. Here you skate amongst real, live Christmas trees in a setting straight out of Narnia. Enjoy hot apple cider and s’mores by the outdoor fire pit too.
6) Rideau Canal, Ottawa
Proving that sometimes bigger really is better, the Rideau Canal Skateway is the world’s largest, naturally frozen, ice rink and a scenic, UNESCO world heritage site. Beginning a short slide away from Canada’s Parliament Buildings, the canal stretches all the way to Dows Lake where skaters can enjoy the Dows Gallery exhibition – an outdoor art gallery set up on the ice. And lest the 7.8 kilometer run prove a little much for some, there are numerous rest stops dotted along the canal with fires, hot drinks and snacks.
7) Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen
The beautiful Tivoli Gardens are transformed into a wonderful winterland every year. Fairy lights sparkle, a small village of craft and food stalls set up shop, Christmas themed rides take over the fairground and the park’s 200 year old lake is partially frozen to form an enchanting ice rink. For a little Danish courage, try out a mug of hot glogg, a winter drink made from mulled wine, liquor and spices before wobbling your way out onto the ice.
8) Red Square, Moscow
Those long, Moscow winters provide the perfect conditions for a good, old skate. Visitors can kill two birds with one stone by visiting the famous Red Square in wintertime as the rink is perched in front of the famous Kremlin. You might get to wave a hello to the President of Russia if he decides to twitch his curtains. A large enough rink for a decent amount of elbow room and with fairy-tale buildings like the amazing St. Basil’s Cathedral to stare at, it’s a great place to try your hand at this sport. Russian hat optional.
9) Fuji-Q, Fujiyoshida
Fuji-Q Highland is an amusement park at the foot of the imposing Mount Fuji. World famous, full on, fright of your life roller-coasters take a backseat in the winter months to the largest outdoor rink in Japan – an impressive 3.8 acres of sheer ice. Breathe in that authentic mountain air and goggle at the stunning panorama. And if you’re a little unsure of what the hell you are doing, helpful staff are on hand, offering free lessons.
10) Ice Dream, Vienna
An icy, urban, dreamscape is unveiled every year inVienna. The Rathausplatz in front of the city hall is set up as a giant ice arena and two more skating rinks are set up in town, connected by little paths that enable you to glide your way through the city hall park and under the trees. You can even reserve a little lane for a cheerful game of curling as long as you leave enough energy to take part in the evening Ice Discos. This whole ensemble is known as Ice Dream and in between the rinks are cockle-warming booths providing punch, tea and local food specialties when you stop to refuel. A lovely treat for visitors and locals alike and with free admission, the price is right too.
Alex Saint is a writer based in Bristol, England – a place she calls home due to its friendly, diverse atmosphere and never-ending list of fun things to do. She loves tattoos, quirky fashion, pugs and, of course, travelling.
Image 1 via Adeline Rapon Image 2 via David Jensen Image 3 via Out and About in Paris Image 4 via Winters Hotels Image 5 via Pulsd Image 6 via Melissa Schilling Image 7 via Capital Image 8 via Visit Denmark Image 9 via Eva Geeks Image 10 via Hotel ZipsaTweet