It will soon be time to kick off those flip flops, leave your dignity at the door and prepare to slip, spin and slide – or scramble, attempt-to-spin and fall – your way through the crisp winter air.
Ice skating is perfect for just about everyone: for families seeking a Brady-Bunch-esq night out, friends keen on making a fool out of themselves, or new couples looking for an excuse to fall into each others arms. Just remember a nice thick pair of socks and a spare pair of trousers!
Take a look at our pick of the the best outdoor ice-skating rinks in the world and don’t forget to add your faves below too…
1. Medeo, Kazakhstan
At 1691 metres above sea level, the old USSR were responsible for building the highest ice skating rink in the world. The rink can claim a number of world records for speed skating, but it no longer holds world-class competitions. The rink is located in the shadow of a dam, built to protect the city of Almaty from mud slides and avalanches. The 2,300 metre high ski resort of Chimbulak is also close by.
Dates: Approx December-May
Opening times: noon-4pm and 6-11pm Mon-Fri; 5-11pm Sat; 10am-4pm & 5-11pm Sun
Cost: 600T (€3.20) skate hire for 2 hours plus 10,000T (€5) or passport as a deposit.
Location: Almaty Province, more info here
2. Somerset House, London
London’s original and most glamorous open-air ice rink has returned to Somerset House this winter. Set in a spectacular 18th century courtyard to the backdrop of a sparkling Tiffany Christmas tree, it’s one of those perennial winter experiences you can’t afford to miss.
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3. Rockefeller Center, New York
Skate beneath New York’s famous skyscrapers and sparkling lights at the famous Rockefeller Center! Small and intimate, this iconic rink has room for only 150 skaters at a time. New York winter just wouldn’t be New York winter without it.
Dates: Early November – early January
Opening times: Mon-Thu 9am-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 8:30am-midnight; Sun 8:30am-10pm
Prices: Adults from $19 (€15), but prices vary by date. Tickets must be bought in person, there is no advance online booking.
Location: Enter from Fifth Avenue (between 49th and 50th Streets)
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4. Rideau Canal Skateway, Ottawa
The largest ice skating rink in the world is the Rideau Canal Skateway and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 7.8km stretch begins at the Parliament Buildings and finishes at Dows Lake where skaters can enjoy an outdoor art gallery on ice.
Dates: Seasonal and typically December-February
Opening times: 24 hours a day, but skate patrol and first aid is only available until 11pm
Prices: Free, bring your own skates or hire from the 5th Ave. outlet of Capital Skates. Two hours of skate hire costs CAN$17.
Location: Beginning at the Hartwell locks at Carleton University, the skateway runs to the locks between the Parliament Buildings and the Château Laurier, including Dow’s Lake in-between.
5. Eiffel Tower, Paris
Provided you don’t suffer from vertigo, ice skating on the first floor observation deck of the Eiffel Tower is the epitome of romance! Check out the amazing views over Paris as you slip and slide your way across this famous French monument.
Dates: Mid December – late January
Opening times: 10:30am-10:30pm daily
Prices: From € 9.00 to access the first floor deck.
Location: Eiffel Tower, Champs du Mars, Paris,
6. Hampton Court, London
Pull on your mittens and get skating right outside Henry VIII’s historic royal hangout. This 900-metre-square rink has space for 250 skaters to skim their way across the ice.
Dates: Late November – early January
Opening times: Daily sessions from 10am and last session at 9pm
Prices: Adult tickets from £11.50
Location: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU
7. Yosemite National Park, California
Get a step (or slip!) closer to nature this Christmas as you skate through one of the most beautiful national parks in the world. Standing in the shadow of the majestic Half Dome and Glacier Point, the Curry Village Ice Rink at Yosemite has been a winter tradition since the 1930s.
Dates: Mid-November – early-March
Opening times: Weekends 8:30am-9:30pm; weekdays 12 noon-9:30pm
Prices: Adults $10 and skate rental $4
Location: Curry Village Recreation Center at shuttle bus stop #13A
8. Rathausplatz, Vienna
While Christmas may be over, the ice skating action is only just beginning in Vienna! Head to Rathausplatz at Vienna City Hall for a truly massive 5400 square-metre ice rink, known locally as ‘Vienna Ice World’, plus six curling rings and a 750 metre long skating trail.
Dates: 24 Jan. – 9 Mar. 2014
Opening times: Daily 9 am – 10 pm
Prices: Free on opening and closing nights, other prices TBC
Location: Rathausplatz, 1010
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9. Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto
Skate under an array of bright lights, festive decoration and ‘freedom arches’ at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, Canada.
Dates: Mid November – Mid March
Opening times: TBC, but daily from morning until night
Prices: Free or if you require skate hire it costs $10 (€8) for two hours
Location: 100 Queen Street W,
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10. Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
Britain’s biggest open-air ice-rink is takes over Princes Street Gardens every November/December. It’s all part of Edinburgh’s annual Winter Wonderland festivities, featuring fairground rides, food stalls, mulled wine and a magical Christmas market.
Dates: 21st Nov – 4th Jan 2015
Opening times: 10am-8.45pm
Prices: From £5.00
Location: By the Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens
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11. Boston Common Frog Pond, Boston
Ah, New England in winter! A sprinking of frosted trees here, a mug of steaming clam chowder there and all in the shadow of the neo-Georgian Beacon Hill and Back Bay area.
Dates: Late Nov. – to mid-Mar. 2015
Opening times: 10AM-4PM, Tue-Thu 10AM-9PM, Fri-Sat 10AM-10PM, Sun 10AM-9PM
Prices: Adult admission $5, skate rental $9
Location: Boston Common
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Thanks to Sherlock77, daveograve@, marlambie, Benson Kua, Gadl, UK Pictures, dolanh, Olivier Bruchez, Tom Holbrook, byronv2, AlanH2O, christopherdpotts Oleg1975 and clare_and_ben for the images off Flickr. Please note, all images were suitable for use at time of publication according to the Creative Commons license.