Five Best: Outdoor ice rinks

The premier places in the UK and Ireland to get your skates on


Eden Project, Cornwall

Eden Project, Cornwall

This year the Eden Project's biomes will play host to an ice rink in the run up to Christmas. The lake in the centre has been transformed into a skating rink, so visitors can stroll from the sub-tropical warmth of the rainforest into the romantic chill of winter. Seasonal decorations will include giant hanging lanterns, light and fire sculptures and 1,000 trees twinkling with fairy lights. Visitors can also make lanterns in workshops led by Cornish artists.

The Eden Project skating rink (01726 811911; www.edenproject.com) opens from 11 November-5 February. Between 3.30-10pm, Thursday-Saturday entry to the Eden Project costs £8 per adult plus £3 to skate. Daytime skating on Saturday and all-day Sunday between 10am-4.30pm is £12 per adult plus £3 for skating. In all cases, under-16s are free and only pay £3 for skating. Sessions last for 40 minutes and prices include skate hire. Booking is advisable

Smithfield, Dublin

Now in its third year, "Smithfield on Ice" will accommodate more visitors than ever this year. Set in the city's regenerated market area close to the north bank of the river Liffey, the rink is surrounded by gas braziers that are lit at night. Lessons are offered to novice skaters and the rink-side café does a good line in hot chocolate. This year access is even easier thanks to Dublin's new tram system the LUAS, which stops at Smithfield.

Smithfield on Ice (00 353 1 448 7777; www.smithfieldonice.ie) is open from 26 November-9 January, 10am-10pm daily (except Christmas Day). Tickets cost €14 (£10) per adult and €9.50 (£6.80) for children under 12 for one-hour with skate hire

Somerset House, London

The floodlit 18th-century courtyard of Somerset House provides the perfect backdrop for a romantic evening on the ice. For the fifth year running, an ice rink will be built in the square around a 40ft Christmas tree. Now an essential part of the run-up to Christmas in London, even non-skaters flock here to watch the action and sip a cup of mulled wine.

Somerset House, The Strand, London WC2 (0870 166 0423; www.somerset-house.org.uk). Open 25 November-30 January, 10am-10pm daily (check for reduced hours during holidays). The price for adults is £9.50 during the day and £11 from 6.30pm; for children (12 years and under) the cost is £6. All prices are for a one-hour sessions and include skate hire. Pre-booking is recommended

Princes St Gardens, Edinburgh

"Winter Wonderland" transforms Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens. During the festive season, the rink plays host to curling tournaments and ice hockey matches, as well as up to 400 skaters. Around the rink are a host of other festive events, including a German Chriskindlmarkt, an enclosed café and a fair.

Winter Wonderland (0131 226 6550; www.winterwonderland.org) runs from 27 November-24 December, Sunday-Wednesday 10am-8pm, Thursday-Saturday 10am-10pm. A one-hour session costs £7 for adults, £6 for under 16s with skate hire

Warwick Castle, Warwick

Warwick Castle's festive celebrations will feature all the colour of a medieval Christmas. Costumed characters including fairies and fire-eaters will add a mystical feel, and a dragon will be on the loose in and around the grounds of this imposing turreted castle, which dates from 914. The central courtyard will, for the first time, play host to an outdoor ice rink festooned with twinkling Christmas lights.

Warwick Castle Medieval Frost Fair runs from 11 December-3 January (0870 442 2375; www.warwick-castle.co.uk). Pre-booking is advised. Open every day from 10.30am-9.30pm (last session begins 8.30pm). Tickets cost £5 per adults, £4 per child (under 16) for a one-hour daytime session including skate hire. Evening sessions (from 5.30pm) cost £9 per adult and £6 for children (under 16). Children under eight must be accompanied by an adult

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