Memories of last winter's big freeze might lead you to conclude that the need for outdoor ice rinks is waning. Why pay for the privilege when you could risk life and limb, free of charge, just by sliding down your street to get the shopping in?
However, such wintry weather is still rare in Britain. So, it's a good job that the number of temporary ice rinks set up around Christmas and New Year continues to grow.
New and improved ice installations will be popping up all around the UK in the coming weeks. For the first time, London's South Bank will host skating sessions at Eyeskate. It's a chance to skate in the shadow of the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel, the London Eye. And you can even combine your trip with a spin on the Eye, until 5 January (londoneye.com).
Also new this season, the grounds of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton provide the setting for a 700sq m rink until 16 January, with crèche and penguin skate aids for young children. It also features a rinkside pop-up restaurant from local food champions, Due South (visitbrighton.com).
Bristol has added an ice rink to its seasonal programme, until 9 January. Set against the historic scenery of Quakers Friars, the Cabot Circus skating rink is not only a first for the city centre, it is also uniquely eco-friendly – made from synthetic ice, it uses less power than conventional ice rinks (cabotcircus.com).
Meanwhile, Scotland's first city offers skating from this week until 4 January. Edinburgh's Ice Rink Experience, with the backdrop of the castle and the city's big wheel, will be constructed this year around a stage featuring music and other entertainment. Also new is the Baby Warming Pod, featuring play and feeding facilities for younger family members (edinburghschristmas.com).
Other popular outdoor ice rinks returning this year include: Ice Skating @Life in Newcastle Gateshead until 27 February (life.org.uk); the Trentham Estate lakeside ice rink in Staffordshire, including Fire & Ice Evenings and Ice Discos, until 27 February (trentham .co.uk); and the Admiral Open Air Ice Rink in Cardiff until 3 January (cardiffs winterwonderland.com).
What are you waiting for? Get your skates on for some seasonal fun.
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