Nothing feels more quintessentially festive than a spot of ice-skating. And there are numerous ice rinks appearing around the country to fulfil the need.
Not so much your traditional Victorian experience and certainly no skating on lakes or rivers these days, but the modern rinks are sure to get the adults and the children excited.
In Manchester, the city centre’s only open air ice rink is at Hardman’s Square at Spinningfields. The rink transforms the whole area into a winter wonderland for the Christmas season. With Christmas films and music to get everyone in the mood, this is akin to New York’s world famous Rockefeller rink in terms of its hustle and bustle in an environ of shops and food outlets. And to add to the spirit, the adjoining Chalet Bar serves a range of traditional winter drinks to keep the skaters warm and in the festive spirit.
Adding a vintage feel to the surroundings, there’s a tall red and white wooden helter skelter with lights that looks just great against the modern precincts. And if you’re nervous about taking little ones for their first skate, there are specially designed ‘Penguins’ available for the under tens, which are cute handled push along skate stabilisers. These are just great for helping children keep their balance. When we went fluxling #1 aged 6 soon got to grips with whizzing around the rink with the support of the little character (we’d advise getting in the queue for your session early to make sure you get a penguin as there are only 10 available for safety reasons).
If you’re in central London your best bet is probably the lovely, glamourous ice-rink at Somerset House. Set in the central courtyard, skate lessons are available throughout November and December. And for the under eights, the Penguin Club provides a safe environment at the adjoining training rink, again complete with Penguins for the little ones.
For more info on Spinningfields Ice Rink visit www.spinningfieldsicerink.com. Tickets for ice skating are available in hourly slots from 9.30am (tickets £8.50 adults, child prices vary according to age – no under 4s). Plus there’s a photography competition running for the image that best captures the spirit of the Spinningfields Winter Wonderland, with the prize of a meal for two at new Spinningfields restaurant, Neighbourhood. To enter, send your picture, which must be at least 1Mb, along with your name, address and telephone number to firstname.lastname@example.org before January 6th.
For more information on the ice rink at Somerset House see www.somersethouse.org.uk.