Go for a spin on one of the city’s pop-up ice rinks at iconic venues including the Natural History Museum, the Tower of London and Somerset House.
Wrap up warm and get into the festive spirit at one of the capital’s outdoor ice rinks, says Sarah Riches
When the scent of mulled wine wafts through the air and your nose turns so cold you can’t feel it any more, you know winter has arrived.
And one of the most magical ways to celebrate the season is by whizzing around an ice rink. Now in its 10th year, Hyde Park Winter
Wonderland (to 2 Jan; p. 36) is one of the UK’s biggest winter festivals – it has a Bavarian market, a traditional fairground and a big wheel, as well as spectacular ice sculptures. The highlight, though, is its huge outdoor ice rink – the UK’s largest. Skate hire is included for the 50-minute sessions and a live band plays under a canopy of 100,000 lights on the Victorian bandstand in the centre of the rink. Skate at Somerset House (to 15 Jan; p. 42), meanwhile, is popular with celebrities; famous faces have ranged from the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, Pippa, to model Lily Cole. Channel your inner Torvill and Dean around the grand courtyard ice rink to tunes played by DJs from the Green Man Festival and the Ministry of Sound, then warm up in Fortnum & Mason’s Lodge – a cosy restaurant serving dishes from the iconic store on Piccadilly. You can also pop into Skate Lounge, a rustic alpine bar that’s new for 2016, and shop for presents in Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade.
Staying on the other side of town? Then opt for the ice rink where your backdrop is the Natural History Museum (to 8 Jan; p. 42). Afterwards, warm up over a glass of mulled wine in the Café Bar, which overlooks the rink. If your skating skills aren’t up to scratch, head to Skate in the City (to 4 Feb; Exchange Square, EC2 A2 BQ) behind Liverpool Street station instead. Little ones can hop on to seal skates and ride-on penguins while people of all ages can take advantage of skating lessons. At the end of your session, you can celebrate letting go of the side by tucking into street food from surrounding vendors.
Another alternative is a whizz around the rink in the dry moat beneath the 900-year-old
Tower of London (to 3 Jan; p. 35). The tower definitely wins points in the romance stakes as hundreds of snowflakes will be illuminated on to its wall. While you’re there, pop into the Eis Haus, a -5°C pop-up bar made from ice. Coats are provided to keep you cosy as you sip drinks from glasses made from ice, surrounded by ice sculptures. If your fingers still turn blue, then warm yourself up over fondue and a hot chocolate in the Dip-Dunk Lodge.
Main image: Natural History Museum Below: Hyde Park Winter Wonderland