There’s something brilliantly egalitarian about ice skating in winter. Most Christmas activities tend to be aimed at either adults or kids – mulled wine and craft fairs versus Santa’s grotto and pantomimes – but ice rinks are enormous fun whatever your age (as long as you don’t mind taking the occasional tumble). So, whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a family trip or a wintry adventure with friends, hop into an Alamo hire car and head for one of the UK’s top seasonal skating locations.
If you haven’t already been to the Eden Project, you’re missing out. The incredible series of biomes are one of Cornwall’s top attractions, housing thousands of plant species from across the world. And each Christmas, the Project becomes even more magical with the addition of a beautifully lit ice rink in one of the huge geodesic domes. If you’ve been meaning to visit, head down between now and the end of February for an extra-special experience (and a better value ticket!).
Hampton Court Palace
A visit to Hampton Court Palace always invites the possibility that Henry VIII’s ghost is still hanging about with an axe and a meaningful look in his eye – so there’s no better way to admire this magnificent Tudor building than on the ice! We suspect Henry wouldn’t be much of a skater, so your getaway is sorted in advance. Hot drinks and festive treats are available in the Ice Bar & Café, and if you’re not feeling too dizzy you can top things off with a visit to the famous yew maze.
Cardiff Winter Wonderland
Wales’ most spectacular seasonal attraction, the Cardiff Winter Wonderland features a funfair, live entertainment and the popular Alpine Village – but there’s nothing to beat the main attraction. The spectacular open-air ice rink is ideal for skaters of all ages and abilities – in fact, why not make a weekend of it and explore the rest of Cardiff’s Christmas offerings whilst you’re there?
Brighton Royal Pavilion
For the fourth year running, Brighton’s ornate Royal Pavilion will be the setting for a beautiful seaside ice rink (how they stop the salty air from melting the ice is a mystery to us). Wrap up warm to guard against the sea breezes, but don’t worry about taking a packed lunch – the bar and kitchen adjacent to the rink will be serving piping hot soup and marshmallow-topped hot chocolate. We’d steer clear of the mulled wine – skating’s tricky enough without any festive spirit clouding your judgement!
Many of the UK’s major cities and tourist attractions will be opening an ice rink between now and December, so there’s a good chance that you can combine some skating with any pre-Christmas trip you might have planned. And if you fancy venturing farther afield than usual, it’s the work of a moment to book an Alamo hire car and get back to the important things – like working out how to stay upright on the ice!