There’s no guaranteeing a white Christmas if you’re in London over the holidays, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to magic up your own wonderland, even in the sunshine. Here’s our seasonal selection of ice rinks (and even a ski slope) that are as enjoyable to look at as they are to fall over on – anything to get you in the Christmas spirit!
Natural History Museum
Visit Website / 30th October – 4th January
Built around a giant Christmas tree in the courtyard of the Natural History Museum and with two separate rinks for the more and less developed of ability, this skating rink is ideal for bringing the kids along to as well. The backdrop of the Alfred Waterhouse buildings and fairy lights sprinkling their magic between the trees won’t do your festive spirit any damage either.
Visit Website / 11th November – 11th January
The 18th century courtyard at Somerset House is a breathtaking spot at any time of year, but bedecked with glittery ice and perhaps even some holly, it’s seriously picturesque at Christmas time. The 900-metre-square outdoor rink transforms into an adults-only disco-skate-floor after dark, with DJs, a champagne bar and even private dining available courtesy of Fortnum and Mason; “Glad Tidings Tuesdays” offer even more traditional entertainment and treats, and the Christmas Arcade provides a pop-up version of the F&M shop for all to peruse.
Eyeskate, London Eye
Visit Website / 15th November – 4th January
As far evening city ice-skating experiences go, Eyeskate in the shadow of the London Eye is hard to top. Booking is recommended for the 45 minute sessions, which you can also combine with a trip on the Eye itself or with special Mulled Wine and Champagne Flights – an ideal way to get a Robins’ eye view the Christmas lights along the Thames. What’s more, the Christmas Market will be back on the Southbank from late November through December, so if you’re feeling a bit wary of heights or slippery floors, you can still indulge your tastebuds and punish the wallet.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Visit Website / 21st November – 4th January
It’s Hyde Park, it’s the biggest seasonal ice-skating rink the UK has, and there’s a Victorian bandstand and over 100,000 fairy lights so really, you can’t miss the ultimate Christmas super-spectacle that is their Winter Wonderland. There’s also a Giant Observation Wheel, Santa’s Grotto and two circuses – entry to the Wonderland itself is free, booking is recommended for the skating and rides.
Hampton Court Palace
Visit Website / 21st November – 4th January
Less hectic and with more of a regal revelry feel to it, Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink offers the chance to skate next to the Thames and in the shadow of Henry VIII’s sixteenth century pile of bricks. There’s a warming Ice Bar & Café serving snacks and drinks, including the very necessary mulled wine and mince pies, and if that doesn’t steady your nerves you can even book lessons or a guide to take you round the rink.
The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead
Visit Website / All year-round
If you’re not such a twirly twinkle-toes, or maybe just not in the capital over the Christmas season, there’s always the alternative of the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, a 160m long, 30m wide slope of real actual snow. It’s the UK’s largest and arguably best for learner skiers and snowboarders to embarrass themselves on before doing so in the real world of the mountains, with a range of lessons for all abilities and preferences, an apres-ski cafe and sportswear retailer for those who catch the boarding bug on-site.
Vertical Chill, Ice-climbing wall, Covent Garden
Visit Website / Closed December 16th – January 6th
The Vertical Chill ice-climbing wall in Covent Garden will be closed over the Christmas period, but until December 16th you still have time to book an hour’s session of hiking, clambering and otherwise inelegant means of scaling two stories of ice in the centre of London. Kept at -5 °C, the 8 metre-high wall is open to everyone from complete beginners to seasoned professionals, you can bring your own materials or rent them here, but you will always be under the watchful eye of a fully qualified instructor – a challenging but fun way to spend an hour away from the madness of Trafalgar Square.
After all that exertion and mulled wine, you’ll be happy you don’t have to stagger too far to put your feet back up at Amba Hotel Charing Cross!