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The Best Ice Skating Rinks Around the World

Most Europeans head for the powdery thrills of the ski slopes during their winter holidays, but ice skating is fast becoming an alternative to the ski trails. Every year, some of Europe’s most beautiful cities transform into fairy-tale lands, and the natural rinks provide the perfect setting for an adventurous city-break.

A skating vacation doesn't have to be a mad dash across the ice, but an enjoyable winter city break. Whether you choose to master the art of the triple Axel on the CO2 friendly ice rinks of Scandinavia (Northern European cities tend to offer the most magical seasonal experience), UK and the hot spot (well, not literally) London, go for the proper snow and freezing temperatures of Finland, or make a few flips at the The Rockefeller Centre, in the spirit of it all we have rounded up for you some of the best places in the world.

#1. London

The UK capital and its great number of ice skating rinks is no doubt the creme de la creme for skating. The most popular eight (!) are Hyde Park, Natural History Museum, Canary Wharf, Somerset Hosue, Tower of London, Kew Grdens, Greenwich and Hampton Court Palace.


#2. Copenhagen

The public outdoor ice rinks in the Danish capital are usually open from December to February and they are free of charge. The most popular ones are Frederiksberg Runddel, Lindevangsparken's CO2-friendly ice rink (it is made of wax, not watt), Blågårds Plads, Genforeningspladsen, Elsinore CO2-friendly ice rink (no water or energy is used and for the same reason it is open regardless of the weather), Havnegade ice rink.


#3. Glasgow

If you haven't had enough by the time you've spun round the two rinks in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, hop on the train and take in the one in George Square, Glasgow. If you still want more, head to Inverness after Hogmanay in the Lowlands, where they celebrate "the old new year" on January 12. The fèis gheamhraidh Inbhir Nis – Inverness winter festival – runs from November 22 to January 12 and includes an outdoor ice rink at its heart.


#4. Helsinki

If you want proper snow and freezing temperatures, Finland is the place. Ice-skating is a national pastime and, come the first freeze playgrounds, parks and tennis courts are filled with water and the country has thousands of outdoor rinks. Helsinki also opens a rink over the festive season in the city centre, next to the railway station.


#5. Paris

If skating isn't enough, try the Reve de Neige (snow dream) at the Stade de France in Paris. From December 22 to January 7 the home of French rugby is transformed into a mini-Alps with 20 activities including snowboarding ramps, skiing pistes, skating, ice-climbing, snowman building, zip-wires and sledging.


#6. New York

The Rockefeller Centre rink in New York is the USA's most famous Christmas ice rink. Since first opening in 1936 it has attracted 250,000 people a year. Open from October until April, the giant Christmas tree lights up on November 28. Less well known is what's called Rockefeller Centre west, an ice rink surrounded by skyscrapers in Pershing Square, downtown LA. Special events like kids hockey clinics and free concerts for families.

New York

#7. Moscow

As soon as winter sets in water is poured onto the paths of Gorky Park to make an enormous outdoor skating rink. It's very democratic: all of Moscow skates here. The city has seven indoor and 11 outdoor rinks. As well as Park Kultury (Gorky Park) particularly recommended is Patriarkhskiyi Prudi (Patriarch's Ponds). Gorky Park is also the best place to experience a Russian ice disco.


#8. Berlin

Berlin's Potsdamer Platz doesn't only get a 40m long ice rink, it gets a snow park, Austrian ski hut for food and drink and a Christmas market too. The Rodelbahn is a 70m long sledging slope covered in 14 tonnes of snow with views to the Brandenburg Gate. Children's competitions, skiing and snowboarding demonstrations, carousels and street entertainers add to the atmosphere.


#9. Yosemite

An outdoor rink in one of the world's biggest outdoor places, Yosemite National Park. Decades ago park employees would flood the parking lot of the Curry Village campground. Now a purpose-built rink beneath the shadows of mighty Half Dome and El Capitan operates from mid November to early March.


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Comment by Donna Esposito on November 11, 2010 at 9:40pm
I love these photographs. And anyone who reads this would love Toronto. We have 40, maybe more, rinks right in the city.



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