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Best Outdoor Skating Rinks

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
However much you fight it winter can put a bit of a dampener on your frolicking in the great outdoors, but there are a few outdoorsy things you can only get up to around Christmas time: and outdoor ice skating is one of the few few that you can do without having to leave London.

Luckily, ice rinks seem to spring up in quite unlikely places round this city. Providing you with the much needed opportunity to get your blood pumping - in order to justify the addition of mulled wine and or mince pies you've added to your normal diet. Or, to get the kids out of the house.

Somerset House Ice Rink
Tiffanys sponsors the Somerset House ice skating rink, lending even more class to an already pretty classy event. It's not an exaggeration to say that the venue, dolled up in its Christmas lights, with the big tree, feels magical, and that blue brand which last year lent its colours to cupcake icing as well as to disposable mulled wine and hot chocolate cups in the cafe should get some credit for that.
As well as regular skating sessions, they also do late night skates accompanied by DJ controlled entertainment rather than the Christmasy offerings you usually skate to.
13 peak times, and 10 off peak.
23 Nov 2010 - 23 Jan 2011

Ice Skate at the Natural History Museum
This is one of the most popular outdoor rinks in town, set against the spectacular-when-all-lit-up Natural History Museum. So popular that this year it's going to be open for skating from 8:45 on the weekends.
Aside from the charm of the location there are a few other reasons this rink is so popular: it's the biggest, and not just that, it's also got a junior rink for the littler ones, its cafe/ bar is on a raised level above the rink so the view is better, and as well as the ice, the Natural History Museum lays on a Christmas Market complete with wooden chalet huts to keep you feeling festive and entertained.
13 peak, 11.50 off-peak.
5 November 2010 - 9 January 2011

Skating round the Tower of London
The Tower's moat is an apt place for an ice skating rink, and its colourful lights and music certainly add something to the usually austere and grassy space between the Tower's outer and inner walls. The shape of the moat means that this rink is long and narrow, perfect for picking up speed if you need/ want to. Unfortunately the cafe is down the narrow end, but the view is still good, and if you're just passing by you can admire the skating skills of others from the top of the outer wall.
This will only be the third time a rink has been set up in the Tower's moat and those three skating seasons haven't been in consecutive years so take advantage of it while you can.
12 in peak times, 10 off peak.
20th November 2010 - 9th January 2011

Hampton Court Ice Rink
Skating at Christmas time is a tradition that goes further back that most of us think how do you think folks got around when the Thames used to freeze? So it's not totally out of place for a large ice rink to be erected in front of Henry VIII's great red brick palace. Henry would probably have enjoyed it especially as there's a cafe attached: the Frost Fayre Cafe, serving seasonal treats to help keep skaters strength up. Hampton Court Palace is a little bit out of the way for some people, but it's done up beautifully at Christmas, with Tudor cooking going on in the kitchens to keep the place warm and decorations everywhere.
Sessions start at 10am. Peak tickets cost 11.50, off peak 10.
27th November 2010 to 9th January 2011

Broadgate Ice Rink
Near Liverpool St. Station, Broadgate rink is one of London's smallest outdoor rinks, but it's perfectly set up in an arena like space that means it's a great choice for families, 'cause non-skaters have a good, and comfortable, view of the action. It's also one of the few rinks that you don't need to book for, it's a first come first served basis, which makes it possible to decide on the day that you're ready for the ice. It's quite conveniently located for people who work in the city, yet set in quite private surrounds, so hopefully not too much risk of embarrassment if you end up sitting on the ice rather than gliding across it.
11 for adults, 2 skate hire.
Open now until Sunday 23rd January 2011.

Canary Wharf Ice Rink
Canada Square Park, amongst the towering office blocks of the city, is a perfect spot for an ice rink with all the festive trimmings of warming food and drink and sparkly decorations. Last year they enlarged the skating area, and this year they're keeping the bigger is better attitude and enlarging the viewing area as well. This rink can be particularly entertaining to view - as you can imagine it's popular with the office Christmas party set.
10 off peak and 12 peak for an hours skating session, skates included.
13th November 2010 - 20th February 2011

An outing to one of these outdoor ice rinks isn't just an excuse to get you outside, it can be a good excuse to get you outside in the evening. Rinks are reliant on weather but not on light, and all those mentioned here are even nicer at night when they're all done up in their fairy lights and decorations. Festive and fun, and one of the best ways around to put that rosiness into cheeks part from laughter and part from the slight exertion.
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Why? Best for Festive Fitness
When: From now until early Feb.
Cost: From 10
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