Get your skates on!
Pop-up ice rinks are back for the winter, adding a touch of romance to the cold. They’re a great spot for a date (remember Rocky?), a family day out, or a fun slip sliding Christmas party and there are several in Kent and nearby…
Tunbridge Wells, Calverley Grounds, 18 Nov – 2 Jan
Calverley Grounds in Tunbridge Wells will once again be transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland, pictured above. I’m going along to the opening night on Fri 18 Nov (I’ll be the one all over it, like Bambi, only less graceful). If all else fails I’ll enjoy the food and drink on offer in the spectator’s area – including Muddy Best Bar Award winner Fuggles Beer Café. And this year they’ve got live rock, indie and folk bands too, click here for full details of the line up.
There are toddler sessions during school hours and skating aids here aren’t penguins but seals that children can sit on and be pushed around. Non-motorised Wheelchairs are also allowed. Prices from £10.50 for adults, £7 for children off peak and it’s £41.00 for a family of four at peak times. Seals are £4.
Tickets tend to sell out fast, so get your skates on – and here’s where else to go:
KENT, SUSSEX AND NEARBY:
Royal Pavilion, Brighton, 5 Nov – 15 Jan
Further afield the Royal Pavilion ice rink in Brighton has just opened, look here’s Mr Muddy and I doing a quick turn… (Oh, OK then it’s Olympic hopefuls Zoe Wilkinson and Christopher Boyadji…) The colourfully lit onion domes of Brighton Pavilions back the city’s seasonal ice rink. It has a large covered cafe and bar with illuminated trees this year with meals including a children’s menu available. Kids can get their balance on a separate rink with a penguin skating aid – first come first served but you’re expected to share – and under fives can skate free with a paying adult at certain times. Adult tickets from £10.00 off-peak, children from £7.00, family tickets for peak times, £36.
Steyne Gardens, Worthing, 11 Nov – 27 Feb
Worthing’s Steyne Gardens pop-up is fully covered in a giant marque so you can skate whatever the weather. Regular sessions are for over-fours, while toddlers can get on the ice too in special weekday sessions 10.00am – 3.00pm helped by penguins for balance. There are even six week children’s skating courses and private lessons by arrangement.You can warm up with hot drinks and snacks in the café and even use the venue to host a children’s party. Tickets are from £6.25 off-peak, family of four tickets cost £29.00. Penguin hire is £3.50
Hornbrook Park, Horsham, 21 Oct – 29 Jan
Another covered rink in a marquee, with a café and some pretty decorations. Horsham is running kids’ learn-to-skate courses following the National Ice Skating Associations’ UK programme. Double bladed skates and penguins help toddlers between 10.00am and 3.00pm. Tickets are from £6.50 off-peak, family of four tickets cost £29.60, Penguin hire is £3.50.
Priory Meadow, Hastings, 25 Nov – 2 Jan
The rink at Priory Meadow shopping centre is launching with a disco party, comps and giveaways on 25 Nov. If you miss that don’t worry, there’ll be a party every Friday 4.00-8.00pm as well as regular skating throughout the week. It’s a covered rink and there are toddler times and penguins skate aids (£2). Adults tickets are from £7.50, children £6.00 or it’s £5.00 for all off peak. Four skaters together costs £25.00
London’s most famous rink is in the historic courtyard at Somerset House. A tie up with Fornum & Mason means you can have champagne or hot chocolate, truffles, fondue and blinis in an Alpine-themed lodge or shop for presents in a pop-up arcade. There are also skating club nights with DJs. You can even book a guide to help you out on the ice!
National History Museum, 27 Oct – 8 Jan
Combine a visit to the dinos or the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition with a turn on the ice at this Kensington rink. The V&A’s Records and Rebels exhibition is also nearby.
Hampton Court Palace 25 Nov – 8 Jan
There’s a seriously stunning backdrop for your triple salchow at Henry VIII’s old gaff in Surrey, floodlit with colours for the evening. You can also indulge in an afternoon tea.
Have I missed one? If there’s a good Christmas rink in or close to Kent that’s not on the list let me know.