What to do when you’re finished with all that shopping and want to get into some Christmas spirit? Well if you’re in Manchester, Spinningfield’s Hardman Square is hosting its annual dose of Christmas cheer with the only ice skating rink in the city centre.

We had a lovely outing to the ice-rink last week, after our visit last year was such a resounding success. The Spinningfield’s rink is a very pretty outdoor rink, surrounded by twinkling Christmas lights and lit up shop windows, overlooked by a vintage style candy-striped helter skelter.


Spinningfields Ice Rink


The experience has evolved this year, and there are more penguin skate supports that are now free for skaters so young children from 5 or 6 can skate around quite happily holding the penguin’s handles. This leaves you free to fall all over the place alongside your little professional.

The introduction of some seal shaped ride-ons means that younger tots from maybe age 2 up 4 or 5 can join in, being pushed around the ice by an adult. In fact, there were some adults hitching rides on these orange sea mammals, so there’s no age limit there really! Just play the game and be prepared to give up your steed if a young rider needs it.

All this was great for us, because I was rather dreading telling our 3 year old fluxling that he couldn’t take a turn on the ice. Skates that fit over shoes are available for the little ones so they feel like they are really participating, and the assistants were really helpful getting the fit right.

The rink was busy but numbers are restricted so the skating is really great fun! You soon find your skating feet with all those years at the adolescent roller disco soon coming back. It’s a must do Christmas activity and even better now everyone can have a go.

Afterwards, we tried the helter skelter which after a nervous climb, spits you out spiralling down above the rink. Three goes later and we were ready to eat, so took a seat in the rink side eaterie, Hibernate (that was Inbloom during the summer). Styled like a ski lodge with wood panels, heaters, benches covered with furs and lit up burners, it’s a pleasant space with a basic but hearty menu of casseroles and chillis, served with rice and bread. That was ideal for us after the skating, so we tucked into a warming chicken stew full of veg and flavour accompanied by hot chocolates – or you could go for the cocktails if you’re feeling more in the mood!

Venturing further into the city centre to try the Christmas markets, we soon gave up after the crowds made it just too awful to even walk around. But down in Spinningfields, it’s a much more relaxed, chic affair where as well as the skating, you can enjoy shopping in the luxury boutiques along The Avenue, letters to the North Pole, the Oast House Christmas Teepee with carol singing and performances from the Halle Orchestra. A lovely afternoon for all, whether it’s before Christmas or a special treat for New Year.

The Ice Skating Rink at Spinningfields is open seven days a week until January 5th, (£4.00 to £9.00, family tickets available). For more details on Spinningfield’s Snow Season go to www.spinningfieldsonline.com