Get your skates on with our ice rink survival guide

It’s that time of the year again; the temperature has started to plummet, the fairy lights are up and the best ice rinks in the UK are open for budding ice dancers and intrepid beginners alike.

To make sure that you don’t miss your chance to take to the ice this season, we’ve handpicked our favourite venues and collected some essential ice rules to create an ice rink survival guide.

Pick your venue, wrap up warm, skim read the rules and start your epic winter with a frosty, festive fix.

The rules

A wise person once said that the hardest thing about skating is the ice, and they weren’t wrong, but these simple rules of the rink will ensure that your evening glides by without too many bumps.

  • Unless you’re a confident skater, stay out of the middle of the rink because that’s where all the semi-pros will be showing off their pirouettes and triple toe loops. If you can in fact skate like Torvill and Dean then it’s practically mandatory to head straight for the middle and show off your Bolero.
Torvill and Dean "Bolero" (1994 Olympics)

  • Look up. One of the worst things you can do in ice skating is look at your boots as it unbalances you. On the bright side, at least if you’re looking up you’ll have bit of advanced warning about who or what you’re about to bump into.
  • Don’t be a limpet. No one likes those faux skaters who inch their way around the rink clinging to the side and screaming every time someone swishes past them. Grab a penguin skate aid or enlist the help of the onsite ice marshals to help you navigate the rink instead.

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  • Remember the brakes. Unless there’s a handy wall to aim at, stopping in skates can be tricky. To stop, bend your knees and turn the toes of each foot inwards and push your heels outwards.
  • Don’t drink and skate. Outdoor ice rinks always come hand-in-hand with Christmas markets and stalls selling warming cups of mulled wine but, no matter how much that third hot toddy seems like a good idea, remember that you’ll end up like Bambi back on the ice.


The rinks

Skate at Somerset House: best for…ravers and beginners

11 November – 11 January

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It might not be a view over The Alps, but you can’t get a better urban backdrop than the 18th century neoclassical surrounds of Somerset House. Children under eight-years-old can get their first taste of the ice at the Polar Cub Club and, if your skating skills are on the rusty side, anyone can book a lesson at the Skate School, which runs every weekend in November and December. After dark, the rink is transformed into the ultimate après-skate venue for Somerset Houses’ Club Nights where international DJs turn up the heat on the ice with late night skate and dance sessions.

Book your tickets for this musical ice extravaganza, here.

Natural History Museum Ice Rink: Best for…mini skaters and mulled wine hunters

30 October – 4 January


Skating around the rink at The Natural History Museum in front of one of London’s most iconic buildings is a winter must-do. Even if skating on the huge ice rink under branches twinkling with fairy lights doesn’t tempt you, the adjoining Christmas fair with its steady supply of mulled wine and hot chocolate and the brightly-lit carousel will. There’s a mini, 100-metre rink for little ones too as well as bookable mini penguin skate aids for unsteady skaters – and yes, adults can use them too if they’ve over indulged on the mulled wine.

The Natural History Museum ice rink won the approval of our very own Minimasters and you can read all about their icy adventures here.

Limber up and book your tickets here.

Royal Pavilion Ice Rink: Best for…eco-warriors and foodies

8 November – 18 January

The ice rink at Brighton’s oriental Pavilion is now in its fifth year and is the perfect alternative for skaters who don’t fancy making the trip to London. This eco-concious rink is setting the trend for environmentally friendly skating and uses green energy to freeze the ice for its 800-metre rink. If you build up an appetite looping around the ice, head to the rink-side Bar and Kitchen, where you can sample everything from snacks like festive toffee apples to full meals like pork belly with twice cooked crackling. There’s even a hot chocolate menu where you can sip steaming cups of white hot chocolate with raspberry or hot chocolate with hazelnut.

Loosen your belts before booking your tickets here.