The Independent Parent: Your Questions Answered

Where can our family do some outdoor ice-skating?


Q We would like to take our children, aged eight and 11, to an open-air ice rink, which we've heard is possible somewhere in London. Do you know any details?

Q We would like to take our children, aged eight and 11, to an open-air ice rink, which we've heard is possible somewhere in London. Do you know any details?

P Maddison, Manchester

A Open-air ice rinks can be found around the country this Christmas, but London – with several to choose from – is the most promising venue. The most picturesque and atmospheric is the temporary ice rink in the courtyard of Somerset House. The rink, which opened on Thursday, will be there long after Christmas, closing on 26 January. The rink opens daily from 10am to 10pm. On some days it opens early between 9am and 10am, with ice guides and skating lessons for beginners. Evening skating is accompanied by live music, flaming torches and light displays. Other attractions include viewing areas, a 40ft Christmas tree and a café.

A one-hour session, including skate hire, costs £9.50 per adult, £6 for under 12s, and £27 for a family (two adults and two children or one adult and three children). Book on 020-7845 4670 or at www.somersethouse.org.uk/icerink. Don't turn up without a reservation; you are likely to be disappointed.

The new Marble Arch ice rink is another impressive open-air venue, in the shadow of the arch at the junction of Park Lane and Oxford Street. The rink is now open daily until 15 January from 10am to 10pm. There is also an open-air viewing area and a café. A one-hour session, including skate hire, costs £10 per adult and £6.50 per child, with special prices for families: £25 for one adult and three children, £29 for two adults and two children. Book on 0870 060 2325, or online at www.ticketmaster.co.uk, or through selected Virgin Megastores, Beatties, Waitrose, Blackwell's and Tower Records.

For something a little quieter, try Broadgate Ice Rink (020-7505 4068, www.broadgateestates.co.uk). This small outdoor rink, next to Liverpool Street station, is open anually from October until April. As there are different sessions throughout the day, varying in length from two to three and half hours, it's best to telephone for opening times. Admission costs £7 per adult and £4 per child per session including skate hire.

You could forgo the capital altogether and head north as Scotland is also hosting some festive outdoor skating. Glasgow On Ice (0131-226 6550; www.glasgowonice.org) sees the city's George Square transformed into a rink, surrounded by a Christmas market, café and fairground, until 5 January. Admission is £5 per adult, £4 per child, and £15 for a family ticket (two adults, two children). Edinburgh's Christmas Festival (0845 2255121; www.capitalchristmas.org) also includes an open-air ice rink in East Princes Street Gardens until 5 January. The city's Winter Wonderland ( www.winterwonderland.org) features a snow slide (£2.50 per person), a fairground, traditional food and a German Christmas fair. A one-hour skating session costs £4.50 per adult, £3.50 per child and £16 for a family (two adults, two children), with skates an extra £1 per person.

For what it's worth (which isn't much, since his performance is more Pearl & Dean than Torvill & Dean), the travel editor recommends getting your skates on for Budapest's stadium-sized open-air rink.

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