Nothing feels more festive than a lap or two around an ice rink, which is why we’ve found the best options for a truly spectacular skate
Heinzel’s Winter Fairytale Christmas market
Cologne’s beautiful ice rink is a hi-tech affair—it’s one of the world’s few CO2-neutral rinks. You’ll find it at the city’s Heinzel’s Winter Fairytale Christmas market, a tribute to the (somewhat far-fetched) belief that in the eighteenth century, friendly elves helped Cologne’s tradesmen. And it appears fairies have a knack for building ice rinks too, because those who don their skates for a spin around this fantastic, football field-size rink will find various added extras, including the opportunity to skate under a beautiful bridge, sip wheat beer in a rink-side bar or spin around the historic equestrian statue of King Friedrich Wilhelm III, in the centre of the rink.
Denver International Airport
Heading to Denver this winter? Don’t wait until you’ve reached one of Colorado’s fantastic ski resorts to kick off the fun—simply head to Denver International Airport’s DEN Plaza for a post-flight lap or two around its beautiful ice rink. It’s free to use and in the unlikely event you don’t have a pair of ice skates in your carry-on bag, you’ll be able to hire all the essential kit rink-side. Get lucky and you’ll be there for one of the special events, such as the free hot chocolate giveaways.
One of this year’s most spectacular ice rinks, Skate Brighton can be found at the Royal Pavilion, in the shadow of the building it’s named after. We’re particularly smitten with the beautiful rink-side bar and restaurant, where skaters can enjoy hot mince pies and mulled wine. It’s also got one of the longest opening periods of any seasonal ice rink in the UK – it opens from November 3 to January 13.
Shopping and skating sound like the perfect combination to us, and this winter, it’s one you can indulge in on the roof of the brand’s flagship store on Oxford Street. Head to this rink, which opened in October and will close in early January, for spectacular views over the city and the opportunity to sip delicious winter warmers – in this case, gin-based cocktails courtesy of Sipsmith. Tipples on the menu include mulled sloe gin and a spicy gingerbread sour.
Natural History Museum
The team at the Natural History Museum has pulled out all the stops when it comes to this year’s stunning ice rink, which opened in late October and is surrounded by frost-covered trees and artfully-draped tangles of fairy lights. A word of warning: it’s one of London’s most popular rinks (despite the fact it will remain open until late January) which is why it’s worth booking your skating slot well in advance - you can do so online. Don’t forget to treat yourself to some mulled wine and toasted marshmallows.
The Rideau Canal
Your daily commute will look rather depressing after a skate along Ottawa’s Rideau Canal. During the winter months, the 7.8-kilometre stretch of the canal which passes through the city centre is turned into a frozen highway, complete with designated entry points and snack bars (we recommend a beaver’s tail – a sugar-dusted slab of fried pastry). It’s one of the world’s most spectacular places to skate – you’ll glide past the parliament buildings, the Château Laurier and Dow’s Lake, and in February, the Skateway is the focal point of the Winterlude winter festival. Opening dates vary because the ice has to reach a certain thickness before it’s declared safe, although it’s usually open between January and March.
Las Vegas, US
It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that Las Vegas lays claim to one of the few ice rinks built on top of a swimming pool. You’ll find the ice rink in question at the Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan Hotel, high above the Las Vegas Strip. After a few laps of this 4,200-square-metre rink, nab a spot by one of the fire pits and indulge in some roast s’mores while admiring the (artificial) snow flurries. Only in Las Vegas.
Between January and March Vienna’s Rathausplatz is transformed into an enormous, 8,000-square-metre ice rink, and it’s only fitting that skaters who sign up for a lap or two will do so to the music of the Viennese waltz. From early December, you’ll also be able to skate along the ice path which winds through nearby City Hall Park. Fancy a spot of curling? Every evening this particular rink is transformed into curling lanes, and there are dedicated practice areas for younger skaters, too. We also love the fact that the ice skates available for hire are pre-heated with blasts of warm air, minimising the risk of cold toes.
The Chedi Andermatt
There are no pre-heated ice skates of rink-side fire pits at this next offering, but it’s certainly one of the most breathtaking places to channel your inner Jane Torville or Christopher Dean. This small but perfectly formed rink opens in late November and its position, in the hotel’s courtyard and with a backdrop of snow-dusted peaks, makes it the perfect place for a spot of skating.
Jumeirah Vittaveli Maldives resort
We take it back—perhaps Las Vegas isn’t the strangest place for an ice skating session, after all. The Maldives’ first ice rink can be found at the luxurious Jumeirah Vittaveli Maldives resort, metres from the turquoise water. Wondering how the ice stays cool in this tropical paradise? It’s actually Glice – a synthetic ice made with the help of some rather complex molecular technology. Just don’t forget the sunscreen – or a snorkel, for that post-skate dip in the ocean.
A clear contender for the world’s most beautiful ice rink, this frozen paradise can be found in the Karuizawa Hoshino area of Japan. The rink is surrounded by thick forests, and its position, adjacent to the Karuizawa National Wild Bird Sanctuary, means it’s highly likely your spectators will include the local wildlife. The rink, which opens every year in mid-October, is also the perfect spot from which to admire the region’s spectacular landscape, known for its rainbow-hued maple and larch trees.
Fancy a different kind of winter sport? Click here to find out about Europe’s top ski resorts, for some downhill fun.