Get Your Skates On: Great Outdoor Ice Rinks

By: andrewbowman

December 30, 2010

If your seasonal holiday is more city break than winter sun, you’ll more than likely be revelling indoors for much of it, but what’s more festive than a bit of outdoor ice skating? It’s good exercise for working off all the Christmas indulgence too. From Manhattan to Tokyo, many of our destinations have superb open air rinks, here are some of the finest…


New York

Immortalised in many movies, winter skating in Manhattan will always give you that screen star feel – even if you fall over. The traditional spots are under the Prometheus statue and giant tree at the Rockefeller Centre and the larger Wollman Rink in Central Park. However, midtown’s The Pond at Bryant Park shouldn’t be missed. For a start, admission is free and, ringed by illuminated trees and skyscrapers, it has all the NY ambience you need. Even better, the site also boasts the Holiday Shops, a seasonal market of 125 international artisan boutiques.


The Pond at Bryant Park, New York by digitizedchaos on Flickr

The Pond at Bryant Park, New York by digitizedchaos on Flickr



In classic Tokyo cram-it-all-in style, the huge Akasaka Sacas, home to the Tokyo Broadcasting System, features a music venue, an art gallery, a playhouse and shopping centre. The complex also plays host to Tokyo’s only currently operational open air rink, White Sacas. So, when the indoor entertainment’s done, head outside for a few spins under the Christmas tree lights.



The Frog Pond at Boston Common, America’s oldest public park is a wonderful, historic setting for a spot of ice dancing or just fumbling your way around the rink. If you are a novice skater, the Skating Club of Boston who manage the site run skating schools for adults and children all the way through to late January. If you’re too scared to skate or just fancy a break, the rink-side Lily Pad Café serves up superb snacks.

Boston Common Frog Pond by Payton-Chung on FlickrBoston Common Frog Pond by Payton-Chung on Flickr


When you’ve warmed yourself up walking round Kensington’s fantastic museums, nothing rounds off the evening like a little glide outside. The Natural History Museum Ice Rink, open until 9thJanuary, is especially scenic after sundown, sitting in front of the magnificent, illuminated Waterhouse Building. If you don’t fancy a turn on the ice, you can warm up in the café or watch from the viewing platform without a ticket.


Skaters at the Natural History Museum, London by supermoving on Flickr

Skaters at the Natural History Museum, London by supermoving on Flickr

If you’re after something bigger, the Magical Rink at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is London’s largest and is open until 4th January. Beyond skating you can indulge at the Spiegel Saloon restaurant with cabaret entertainment from West End musical performers, visit the circus or cosy up in the igloo-style E:Cube bar. For a snapshot of the whole scene and the city beyond, don’t miss the 53-metre-high Giant Observation Wheel.




Nothing beats the romance of the realGreat Outdoors and Yosemite National Park’s dramatic scenery provides the backdrop for one of California’s best skating experiences. Between the majestic Half Dome and Majestic Point, the rink at Curry Village offers a magnificent open-air experience complete with a fire pit and supplies for making s’mores.


Downtown On Ice at Pershing Square, LA by Ray_from_LA on Flickr

Downtown On Ice at Pershing Square, LA by Ray_from_LA on Flickr

At the opposite end of the Cali spectrum, Downtown On Ice at Pershing Square serves up its skating against skyscrapers and palm trees in the heart of Los Angeles. The City’s largest rink is also its cheapest at just $6 and a series of rink-side rock, swing and salsa concerts are absolutely free.


Washington DC


For a real sense of grandeur the ice rink at DC’s National Gallery Of Art is unsurpassed. Set in the famous Sculpture Garden, you can skate until 9 under the festive lights, surrounded by famous works by Miro et al. The museum also holds a number of carolling and classical concert events throughout the season.