Family days out

Find the UK’s best ice rinks for sparkling days out with kids

Last updated 19th November 2023

Where are the best ice rinks in the UK this winter? You know the ones? They resurface the ice regularly so it’s smooth as glass. You can hire skates that don’t feel like bricks tied to your feet. There’s a great family atmosphere because your kids aren’t dodging speed skaters. And, possibly most important of all, the snacks are outstanding! We’ve laced up and glided forth on some amazing ice rinks recently. Take a look at the ones we can personally recommend for kids, teens and anyone who loves hot chocolate and has cosy mittens.

Somerset House: one of the most festive ice rinks this winter

We’re putting Skate at Somerset House at the top of our London list again this year for its grand setting and the no holds barred approach to Christmas Trees which puts a giant 40 footer-in pride of place.

Curated sessions inspired by Switzerland

This year’s partnership with Switzerland Tourism means curated sessions inspired by Berne, Lucerne and Valais. Chalet Suisse pop-up Alpine restaurant is back, and Skate Lounge by Whispering Angel is serving up the best rinkside views.

If it’s time to stop hugging the edge of the rink, lessons are available from Skate School for kids and wobbly parents. Or, for the more confident who just want a bit of peace, book Chilled Sessions in the morning from 10am – great for younger skaters. And Skate Lates brings DJs rink-side after dark: nice for teens who think they’re too cool to skate these days.

Dates: 15 November 2023 to 14 January 2024

Where: Somerset House London, from now until 15 January 2023

See our recommended hotels near Somerset House


Skating on the UK’s largest outdoor rink Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland: the largest of outdoor ice rinks in the UK

Colour us not even slightly surprised that Hyde Park Winter Wonderland has the largest outdoor ice rink in the UK. Immense it may be, but we can confirm they take good care of the ice, so it’s a bump and rut free surface day and night. We’re not going to apologise for going on about how important this is. Having clomped round many rough rinks with kids we know from bitter experience, it’s the polar opposite of fun!

Despite its insane white-knuckle rides, Winter Wonderland really scores high on skating enchantment. The entire rink sits under a canopy of fairy lights and there’s even a Victorian bandstand in play. So if your dream rink is closely aligned to a good old fashioned Christmas card, you won’t be disappointed.

Go early with younger kids for crowd-free skating

No skating lessons here, although if you go in the morning the rink is practically deserted. Admittedly you’ll miss out on the full twinkly light and after dark funfair dazzle. But having the largest ice rink in the UK almost all to yourself is fair compensation.

The ice rink is sponsored by Lidl and their speciality pigs in blankets with a choice of sauce are served rink-side. Though it’s Winter Wonderland so there’s no shortage of places to eat, drink and warm up in every direction.

The rink has Penguin Skate Aids for younger kids and bob skates – twin bladed skates that fit over outdoor shoes- for older kids. Skate hire is included in the ticket price and bob skates are free if you want them.

Dates: 17 November 2023 to 01 January 2024

Where: Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

See our recommended hotels near Hyde Park


Twilight, Royal Pavilion © Brighton Pictures

The Royal Pavilion, Brighton: greenest skating this winter

This could very well be the most beautiful of all ice rinks this year. As if loveliness wasn’t enough,  The Royal Pavilion Ice Rink is also the only one in the UK powered entirely with renewable energy. So it’s green and gorgeous, how can you resist?

Go in the evening when the eccentric Royal Pavilion is floodlit, and skate to your heart’s content in spellbinding splendour, without a hint of guilt. That may not mean a whole heap to kids, but trust us the full-on magnificence of the setting won’t be lost on them.

Brighton has two ice rinks, one just for beginners

The main rink is fairly enormous and if you can stay upright on skates, that’s the place to be. Edge huggers and beginners have their own separate rink which even has a safe-area for the very youngest skaters to get confident. This is another rink with Penguin Skate Aids and bob-skates for kids.

The Royal Pavilion sits in North Laine, so you’re surrounded by colourful Christmassy bustle and plenty of great independent shops. However, if you need refuelling quick, the rink-side Bar & Kitchen serves up cosy drinks and snacks. It’s also a great spot to spectate for parents who don’t want to venture out on to the ice themselves. But you really should. Even a once round is close to magical and who doesn’t need more of that at this time of year?

Dates: 28 October 2023 to 07 January 2024

Where: The Royal Pavilion Ice Rink, Brighton

See our recommended hotels near The Royal Pavilion


Skating in front of the Queen’s House, Greenwich

Queen’s House, Greenwich: child-friendly skating this winter

Another spectacularly regal rink we’re recommending this year is at the Queen’s House in Greenwich. Set in the Royal Museums Greenwich grounds it couldn’t fail to look stunning. But what we really love about skating here is how much thought has gone into making it safe and fun for kids.

Young skaters from age three can come along to Tiny Tots sessions, when the rink only operates at 20% capacity and extra marshals are on the ice if you need a hand. Relaxed Sessions are ideal for neurodiverse children who need a calm, crowd-free skating experience. And of course, Penguin Skate Aids are available here too.

No London ice rinks has a view like this one

Don’t forget to take a look around while you’re skating. Apart from the ridiculously splendid Royal Museums themselves, you’ve views of Greenwich Park and Canary Wharf as well as an eyeful of London. If you’re tempted to make a day of it with younger kids, take them to clamber around The Cove playground at the National Maritime Museum.

Dates: 23 November 2023 to 07 January 2024

Where: The Queen’s House, Greenwich

See our recommended hotels near the Queen’s House


Glide ice rinks, Battersea Power Station © Joshua Atkins

Glide, Battersea Power Station: London’s ice rinks on the river

Glide at Battersea Power Station is back for its second year with its amazing skateable space, and not one but three interconnecting ice rinks, making a change from the round-and-round experience. It’s also happens to have one London’s most iconic buildings as a backdrop and, it’s the only ice rink with river views.

Full-festive pretty much sums up the atmosphere here this winter. Fairy lights are very much in evidence, so there’s a lot of twinkling going on, everywhere. The Christmas tree isn’t quite as big as the Somerset House monster but, coming in at a not insubstantial 30ft, it’s plenty impressive. And if that doesn’t convince you completely, Glide was designed by the same team responsible for the much loved Natural History Museum ice rink.

Catch a boat to Glide for full festive day out feels

This is definitely one teens will like. It can get a little busy for younger kids in the evening, but it opens just after 9am, so go early and you’ll have more room to slip and slide around. Local food vendors provide the snacking at Glide, although Battersea Power Station is awash with restaurants and shops too. Plus, there’s a vintage funfair on site as well, if you know anyone small who likes carousels or helter-skelters. And don’t forget, you can catch an Uber Boat to Thames Clippers Pier to go skating at Glide.

Dates: 10 November 2023 to 07 January 2024

Where: Battersea Power Station

See our recommended hotels near Battersea Power Station

Canary Wharf: the longest running of London’s ice rinks

We’re starting this one with a caveat: if you want the full, glittery, festive ice skating extravaganza, this isn’t that. The Ice Rink Canary Wharf keeps it simple, clean and has a whole flock of Penguin Skate Aids, so it’s great for kids. What it lacks in magic it more than makes up for in space and the fact that it’s fully covered is another big plus.

Organised seems to be the watchword here, there’s even a reminder to ‘skate in one direction’. That might not chime with free spirited frost sprites, but it’s pretty helpful if you’re wrangling a toddler round the ice for the first time.

Canary Wharf makes skating with kids easy

Warm changing areas with good size lockers make life a lot easier especially if you’re dealing with more than one kid. And should all that make it sound a bit too utilitarian, cast your eyes upwards to the giant mirror ball, nothing utilitarian about that baby!

Canary Wharf is also the first of the London ice rinks to open every year and the last to close, so you can skate here into February. That might not have the Christmassy vibe you’re looking for now, but come the end of January it could be just the day out you need. And of course, slightly off season means fewer revelling crowds in early 2024.

Dates: 21 October 2023 to 24 February 2024

Where and When: Ice Rink Canary Wharf, Canada Square Park,  from now until 25 February 2023

See our recommended hotels near Canary Wharf

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