Best family ice rinks in the UK – where to go ice-skating this Christmas

Looking to take your children ice-skating this Christmas? Here's our pick of the best, most family-friendly indoor and outdoor ice rinks - in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

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We love winter here at MFM HQ – especially when all the family ice rinks open in the run up to Christmas 🎄

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Here, we’ve picked some of the best festive outdoor (and indoor) ice rinks where children can learn to skate and have fun on the ice in an easy, family-friendly environment – in locations all across the United Kingdom.

Of course, this list is by no means definitive, but covers a lot of the bigger festive rinks in each region – it’s likely there’ll be plenty of fun Christmassy activities in your local town centre, or nearest city centre.

Feel free to drop us a line on Facebook or Instagram to let us know where you rate in your area ❄️

Now, simply click your chosen area to discover the best family-friendly ice rinks in your region…

Best family ice rinks in London

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Skate at Somerset House, Central London

Date: Open from 14 November 2018 until 13 January 2019.

Price: From £8.50 for children, and from £11 for adults. Choose an off-peak time, if you can, for the best prices.

Why we love it: The main ice rink can get very busy, but there’s a small, separate training rink available for children. Here, children can experience ice skating for the first time with the help of a push-along penguin to keep them steady.

There are toilets at the rink, changing rooms, a mandatory cloakroom (which costs £1) and a cafe for those who prefer to just soak up the atmosphere. There’s a skate school and a Polar Bear Club for young skaters keen to make the most of the winter temps, too.

Booking info: Call 0333 320 2836 or book online

national history museum ice rink

Natural History Museum Ice Rink, South Kensington

Date: Open from 25 October 2018 to 20 January 2019.

Price: £15.95 for a standard peak time adult ticket, and £12.95 off-peak. Kids tickets (under 12s) cost £10.45 for peak times, and £8.80 off-peak.

Why we love it: The twinkling lights in the trees and unique surroundings make it a fun, atmospheric experience. It’s all very Christmassy – but this does draw big crowds!

Skate sessions last 50 minutes and families should arrive 40 minutes prior to their booked time slot, to allow for skate fitting.

Skate hire is free and the skate sizes go from child size 7 to adult size 15. You’re not allowed to bring bags onto the ice rink (except for backpacks), so the Natural History Museum has provided a cloakroom – but it costs £2 per item, so stuff everything into one bag if you can.

Penguin skate aids are available on a first come first served basis, costing £5 per session to be paid in advance.

Booking info: Definitely book in advance to secure a place – you can choose your times online.

canary wharf ice rink

Canary Wharf Ice Rink, East London

Date: Open until 16 February 2019, 7 days a week.

Price: Adult tickets cost £16.95 each and kids (under 12s) cost £10.95 – there’s also a £2.50 web booking fee.

Why we love it: The towering skyline of Canary Wharf makes a stunning backdrop to one of the largest outdoor rinks in the capital.

Featuring London’s only skate path, you can follow the passage through fairy-lit trees around Canada Square Park’s iconic ‘Big Blue’ sculpture by British designer Ron Arad.

When you’re done ice skating, make sure you leave enough time to check out the Christmas Market – a 2-minute walk from the ice rink entrance – where wooden chalets are filled with festive food, drinks and handicrafts.

Skate aids are available for hire 30 minutes prior to your session on a limited basis. This’ll set you back about £5.

Booking info: You can secure your place by booking tickets online.

Best family ice rinks in South West England

we the curious

We The Curious Ice Rink, Bristol

Date: Open from 17 November 2018 to 7 January 2019.

Price: Adults cost £9.95 per ticket on the day, and £8.95 if you buy online. Kids (under 15s) cost £7.95 or £6.95, depending on how you buy.

Why we love it: Head to Millennium Square in Bristol for some festive outdoor skating. There are plenty of options for little ones, including skate lessons, and for general skating sessions, penguin skate aids are available for £5 hire per session (on a limited basis).

We love that there’s more than just ice-skating to do by the square, too, including festive rides and the SkyView Wheel. 

Booking info: Buy at the rink on the day, or get your tickets sorted on We The Curious. (Note: you save £1 per ticket booking online.)

icescape at tropicana

Icescape at Tropicana, Weston-Super-Mare

Date: Open from 19 October 2018 to 6 January 2019.

Price: Under 12s cost £6 off-peak and £7.50 during peak times, while adult tickets cost £7 off-peak and £9.50 during peak times.

Why we love it: Enjoy a 45-min ice-skating sesh with your little ones at the largest covered ice rink in the UK.

Here, you can enjoy skating whether it’s raining, snowing or sunshine – which is a bit trickier with non-covered and other outdoor rinks.

Skate hire is included in ticket price, and as you can see in the above pic, it’s possible to rent little push-alongs for younger children, or kids who aren’t confident on the ice, on the day, for £4 each.

They’re pretty limited though, as they are everywhere, so if your child definitely needs one, you’ll want to book at the rink to ensure they’ve got one.

If your child has autism or another difficulty, they may prefer to skate during one of Icescape’s quiet sessions – no music, and fewer participants on the ice.

If that sounds up your street, contact staff to book a quiet session. There are also parent and toddler-only sessions at set times, and you can buy season passes if you know your child’s a keen skater who’d be there every weekend, if they could!

Booking info: You can buy at the rink or book your session online. Probs best to buy online for busy times, like weekends, to avoid disappointment. You also get 3 hours free parking on the seafront with an online booking – win!

Best family ice rinks in South East England

hampton court palace

Hampton Court Palace, Surrey

Date: Open 23 November 2018 to 6 January 2019.

Price: The prices vary between £14.50, £12.50 for children aged 12 – 13 and £10.50 for under 12s, when you visit in peak time.

Why we love it: The magical outdoor ice rink at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey is a perfect location for families. As the magnificent palace and home of King Henry VIII, Hampton Court will give your family a taste of history while they skate.

Each timetabled session lasts for 1 hour, and once you’ve finished skating, there’s a cafe bar on site. There are still plenty of tickets available, but they do sell out quickly, so book early to avoid missing out.

Booking info: You can book in person, but we’d recommend you buy tickets online.

royal pavilion

Royal Pavilion Ice Rink, Brighton

Date: Open from 3 November 2018 to 13 January 2019.

Price: Tickets cost up to £14.50 for over 12s, and £9.50 for under 12s. Cheaper tickets are available depending on your session.

Why we love it: The Royal Pavilion dubs itself the most beautiful ice rink in the South East of England, and we’d be hard-pressed to argue. The Pavilion certainly makes for a killer view while you and your little ones glide across the ice. 

The rink does have a romantic feel, so it’s great for couples, but it is also very child-friendly, with baby change facilities and access to toilets, and a £1 locker for bags of stuff (they aren’t allowed on the ice.)

There’s even a Rinkidink session in the morning (around 11am) where children under 5 go free, when an adult pays for a ticket, available until 15 December. 

You can hire skate aids, and you also get a full hour on the ice. We’d say that’s a pretty decent length for a session. There’s also a bar and kitchen on site, so you can sit down to eat or grab a cuppa afterwards.

Booking info: You can pre-book tickets on the Royal Pavilion website.

dreamland ice rink

Dreamland Ice Rink, Margate

Date: Open from 1 December 2018 to 3 January 2019.

Price: £9 per person, but £7 for Dreamland members and it’s £34 for a family-of-4 ticket. Prices go up a bit on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

Why we love it: Retro, neon funfair Dreamland has a roller-skating rink all year round, but for the festive season has also put on a covered, 450 square metre ice rink, called The Frosted Fairground.

You’ll get approx 45 min on the ice, after booking into a one-hour slot and getting all set up. Under 8s can rent skate aids for £2, which are bookable in advance online, with a full price ticket. There are lots of ticket options for families and bigger groups.

We’d say it’s worth checking out the arcade games and other funfair rides Dreamland has to offer while you’re there, so bring pennies and pound coins.

Booking info: You can buy in person, or book your slot online.

Best family ice rinks in Wales

celtic manor newport

Celtic Manor Resort, Newport

Date: Open from 23 November 2018 to 6 January 2019.

Price: Skating tickets start from £5 per person on selected dates, though we’d say expect to pay more than £8 per person for peak time tickets. 

Why we love it: The Great Skate takes place on a covered skating rink on a rooftop garden – a wonderful setting for a family activity.

Skating sessions last 45 minutes, and skates are available in a variety of sizes. Polar bear skating aids are available in 3 different sizes, easy to reserve when booking tickets on website. They’re first come first served, so do book them if you definitely need ’em. 

If you simply want to watch while another adult supervises on the ice, it’s free to view the ice rink, but you’ll need a ticket to actually skate. Food and drink’s available, as are other family activities such as laser tag, at an extra cost.

Booking info: You can buy on the day, if there are tickets still available. Book via Celtic Manor’s website to guarantee a slot. You can be entered into a few fab prize draws if you book before 12 December.

waterfront winterland

Waterfront Winterland, Swansea

Date: Open from 3 December 2018 to 6 January 2019.

Price: An adult peak ticket is £10, and child tickets cost £8. There’s also a booking fee of 50p per child, and 63pm per adult online. A family of 4 can skate for £30, plus £1.89 booking fee.

Why we love it: A great place for over 3s to enjoy a bit of skating – as there’s plenty to do on and off the ice, including tons of fairground rides.

Penguin skate stabilisers are available for £5 extra, and it’s £2 to store bags and loose items while you skate. It all adds up, so skip on bringing extras if you can.

There are also relaxed sessions at specific times or those who need a little less sensory input and busyness on the rink – with static lighting and lower sound levels.

If you think your little one needs one of these sessions, make sure you tell the team before you book, to check it’s right for you.

Sessions are booked in hour slots, so make sure you put skates on quickly and properly to enjoy as much of your time on the ice as you can.

Booking info: Buying in advance is cheaper than on the day at the rink, so book your slot online. You can call to book, too, on 0333 666 3366.

cardiff winter wonderland

Admiral Ice Rink at Winter Wonderland, Cardiff

Date: Open from 15 November 2018 to 6 January 2019.

Price: Peak prices are £11 per adult and £9 per child (under 15s) on the day, but you get £1 off each ticket if you buy in advance.  Off-peak prices lower to around £8.50 for adults and £7.50 for children. 

Why we love it: An open air, covered ice rink in the heart of Cardiff, near City Hall. It’s one of many attractions at the local Winter Wonderland funfair. It’s twinkly and magical, especially at night, and a fun time for little ones.

Fun Skate Penguins cost £5, as they do at most rinks. Keep in mind that these ones aren’t ‘official’ skate aids.

Again, it’s a one hour session including getting your skates on and off, but you can arrive 15 mins early to skate hire to queue for your skates – which we’d recommend doing.

Also, it’s £2 per ITEM for the cloakroom, which could add up fast, so think about what you’re bringing with you.

Booking info: Call 0333 666 3366 or book in advance online.

Best family ice rinks in the Midlands

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Ice Skate, Birmingham

Date: Open from 17 November 2018 to 6 January 2019.

Price: Adults cost £9.50 each, and children £7.50. Penguin skate aids are £3 extra, and when you book online you can add a Big Wheel ride for £5 per person. 

Why we love it: A 45-minute skate sesh on the biggest ice rink in Birmingham – and it’s weatherproof, so very unlikely you’ll be caught out by the rain or snow.

Still, you’ll need to wrap up, as it’s an open air rink. There’s nearby public parking, and an Ice Lounge Bar for after-skate hot chocolates and snacks. 

Booking info: You can purchase tickets online in advance.

thomas land

Thomas Land Slide & Glide, Drayton Manor, Staffordshire

Date: Open from 17 November 2018 to 31 December 2018.

Price: Free of charge if you’re already visiting Thomas Land and have your tickets – which cost anywhere between £20 to £26 per adult, and £8 to £24 per child, depending when you book and how old your kids are. Of course, there’ll be offers and deals somewhere… so keep your eyes peeled.

Why we love it: Festive fun with a Thomas The Tank Engine theme? Sign us up! In all seriousness, this limited-time-only ice rink attraction, the Slide and Glide at Thomas Land, will add so much to your Christmas trip to the well-known theme park.

There are 25 other rides and attractions, and pricier tickets booked on special days will also include the opportunity for little ones to meet and receive a small gift from Father Christmas himself.

We’d say this is a little pricey if you’re just after a quick spin on the ice, but if you’re after a big Christmas day out and have cash to splash, this might be a winner for mini Thomas fans.

Booking info: We’d definitely suggest you look at the dates and book your tickets online, that way you’ll be sure to see the best prices.

winter wonderland nottingham

Winter Wonderland, Nottingham

Date: Open from 15 November 2018 to 31 December 2018.

Price: It’s free to enter Winter Wonderland, but ice-skating costs £12 per adult, £10.50 for 12 to 15 year olds, and £9 per child (aged 4 to 11). Fortunately, there’s no online booking fee. 

Why we love it: Winter Wonderland doesn’t just boast fairground rides and festive food, but also the largest (real) ice rink in the East Midlands at 750 square metres.

Located in the town square, and right in front of the Christmas tree, the rink is definitely suited for family photos. Each session lasts 45 mins, which will go fast – so make sure you arrive early to get yourself ice ready.

Lockers and skate penguins are available to hire, and there’s nearby access to toilets and all kinds of drinks and snacks.

Booking info: Book tickets online to secure a slot. You can try your luck on the day, but will be very busy at peak times.

Best family ice rinks in North East England

centre for life

Centre For Life Outdoor Ice Rink, Newcastle

Date: Open from 16 November 2018 to 24 February 2019.

Price: Kids aged 4 and under cost £3, while 5 to 17 year olds cost £7.50. Adult tickets are £10 each, and a family ticket (2 adults and 2 kids, or 1 adult 3 children) costs £27. Very reasonable.

Why we love it: Well, it’s one of the longest-running ice rinks we’ve seen, meaning you’ve got plenty of time to get your family booked in to get their skate on.

It’s a good-sized rink with 1-hour skating slots, too. If you go on a weekday or a Sunday, it won’t be totally rammed.

It’s in a fab location, Times Square in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, which is where the Centre For Life’s located. Ideal if you’ve got some time to kill before your skating slot comes up, as it’s packed with educational science exhibits and activities, as well as a planetarium, and it hosts live theatre shows for young children.

Booking info: You can’t book online, you have to book tickets on the day at the rink’s reception. However, you should book online in advance for Christmas Eve skating.

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Beamish Ice Skating, Durham

Date: Open from 17 November 2018 to 24 February 2019.

Price: Once you’ve paid entry into Beamish (£19 for adults and £14 for children), you get 1 year unlimited entry.

Then you can access the ice rink, which costs a further £4 for children and £5 for adults, including skate hire – you are only guaranteed 20 mins on the ice, though.

They do have a Kids Go Free offer to make up for it, which lets one child go on the rink for free with one paying adult. In theory, you could pay for 2 sessions and for one adult and one child, and it’d set you back £10.

Why we love it: If you’re in the North East and you haven’t taken your kids to Beamish yet, winter is the perfect time. Even when you don’t consider the fact they’ve got a real, outdoor ice rink.

If you have, and you have an unlimited pass, even better. You could even save yourself a bit of money on ice-skating tickets.

The rink and the Winter Fairground are one of many attractions at Beamish. The ice rink’s made of real ice and is 20m x 10m big. It won’t ever take more than 70 skaters per session, which means it won’t be totally heaving. Busy, but not rammed.

As Beamish isn’t slap bang in the middle of a city centre (it’s a short drive from Newcastle or Sunderland), we reckon it’s a good bet for families who don’t want to be too crowded on the ice.

We should add that there’s so much to do at Beamish, 20 mins on the ice might be the perfect amount of time. ‘The Living Museum of The North’ has (among other exhibits) a working 1900s town, pit village, colliery, tramway, railway and 1940s farm for children to discover. There are old school sweet shops, dressing up opportunities, and more…

Booking info: You can’t book tickets online, unfortunately. They’re first come first served on the day, and can be purchased at the Winter Fairground. 

ice rink yorkshire

Yorkshire Winer Wonderland, York

Date: Open until 6 January 2019.

Price: £10.95 per adult (17 and older) and £9.95 per child. There are numerous pricing options for families of 3, 4 and 5, too – which makes a nice change. 

Why we love it: The Ice Factor is the largest ice rink in the entire North of England, and is one of the most stunning, thanks to a sparkling 30ft Christmas tree right in the centre. 

There are special ice shoes and ‘Bobo The Penguin’ skate aids for toddlers, plus a few other characters, available to hire for £3. Taller kids who’d like a helping hand on the ice can use a ‘Buddy The Snowman’ skate aid, which costs £5 to hire. You can’t book these in advance. They’re first come, first served on the day.

Make sure you pack light, as it’s an extra £1 to use the cloakroom for loose bags and other items.

Finally, this isn’t just a rink for those who live in York (it’s in the York Designer Outlet), it’s also a drive away from Scarborough, Malton and Leeds. Signs should be up around York city centre to help drivers find their way…

Booking info: To book your skate slot, visit Yorkshire Winter Wonderland’s website

Best family ice rinks in North West England

MANCHESTER FIRST STREET

Manchester Ice Rink, Manchester

Date: Open until 6 January 2019.

Price: £13 per adult and £11 per child (age 12 and under). You may be able to find vouchers or deals for this rink on sites like Wowcher, for selected skating sessions.

Why we love it: The ice rink on First Street is conveniently located between Deansgate and Oxford Road stations, and next to a host of other amenities. You won’t struggle to find a toilet, somewhere to eat, cinemas or other activities nearby. There are also public car parks in the vicinity – even a 15% online discount for the Q-Park First Street car park when you’ve bought your tickets, with the code ICEMCR15. 

There’s no charge for use of penguin skate aids for children under 8, amazingly. They are first come, first served – which means you may not be able to guarantee one.

The rink recommends that children who are brand new to skating come when it’s less busy, anyway (as busiest sessions can see up to 100 people skating at once) – and say to call the team for booking advice on 0161 820 9718.

Arrive 20 mins before your session, and expect 45 mins on the ice. Arriving early means you’re not faffing with getting your child’s skates on and wasting your time, so we’d recommend it.

Booking info: You can book your tickets online. So easy! 

liverpool

Christmas Ice Festival at Pier Head, Liverpool

Date: Open from 10 November 2018 to 6 January 2019.

Price: £10 for 12 and under, £11 for 13 to 15 year olds, and £12 for adults – with a few price options for families. To go on the Ice Slide, too, it’s another £6 for 3 slides. 

Why we love it: It’s a brilliant, good-sized rink, which is outdoor but covered. It offers lots of what we’ve seen in previous rinks, including penguin skate aids, and is a great place for family skating sessions.

The real USP here is the Ice Slide, which has 3 entrances to choose from. Keep in mind, kids must be 60cm tall to ride the slide. We’ve not seen anything like it – so a must-visit if you’re in the area!

The Christmas Ice Festival also has pop-up food and drink stands, rides, games and a series of events to keep your family entertained, too.

Booking info: You can book skating tickets online.

bolton winter festival

Bolton Ice Rink, Bolton

Date: Open from 8 December 2018 to 6 January 2019.

Price: £7.50 for adults and £4 each for under 14s. However, Penguin Club sessions for parents and children are £3.50.

Why we love it: Bolton’s Winter Festival boasts a large, covered outdoor rink in Victoria Square, right in the centre of town. It has access to your typical skate aids (£2 per aid), skate hire, etc.

We like that there are parent/child only sessions, where the usual capacity of 180 skaters at any one time is reduced to 120.

However, there needs to be one adult per 2 children, so if you’re a single parent with 3 kids going to one of these sessions, you may need to bring a friend along. 

This one also comes with a viewing area, so it’s ideal if one of your children (or one adult!) would prefer to sit on the sidelines.

Booking info: Book your tickets online, or in person on the day.

Best family ice rinks in Scotland

ice rink

Edinburgh’s Christmas, Edinburgh

Date: Open until 5 January 2019.

Price: £9 per ticket, with a family ticket option of £20, which includes a max of 2 adults.

Why we love it: This rink is different, and is more of an elliptical ring than a rink – so makes it easy to figure out which direction you’re going in. 

Thy have double bladed skates for children, and skating aids for a few extra quid, which you can get on the day.

Booking info: You can book your skate session online.

aberdeen ice rink

Christmas Village, Aberdeen

Date: Open until 31 December 2018.

Price: We’re not sure, we’ll let you know when we find out.

Why we love it: Helter Skelters, candy cane trampolines and an ice rink round out Aberdeen’s festive village this year. There are plenty of food and drinks stalls, even some craft markets, on site, too.

They’ve made their ice rink bigger this year, which hopefully means more room and more opportunity for skating fun with little ones.

Booking info: We couldn’t find a website for the market, so we reckon you’re best to book your on the day.

paisley ice rink

Paisley First Winterfest, Paisley

Date: Open from 24 November 2018 to 30 December 2018.

Price: We can’t seem to find it online. We’ll let you know when we do.

Why we love it: 15 minutes on the train from Glasgow is the town of Paisley, who’ve gone all out this year with their Winterfest. Expect shops, rides, and a real reindeer parade – as well as the ice rink.

The rink is open rain or shine, as though it’s outdoor, it’s completely covered and protected from typical wintry weather. It’s still gonna be chilly, though, so wrap up warm. 

It’s not the biggest ice rink ever, but little ones will enjoy using a Polar Bear push-along skate aid or being pushed by mum or dad on a bright yellow sleigh! Fab for kids who are too young to strap on their skates and take to the ice themselves.

Booking info: We reckon you’re best off booking on the day at the rink, or checking Facebook for more info.

Best family ice rinks in Northern Ireland

dundonald ice bowl

Dundonald International Ice Bowl, near Belfast

Date: All-year round, with Christmas activities running until Christmas Day.

Price: £6 off-peak and £7.30 during peak times for adults, plus £5.50 for kids aged 5 to 16 off-peak, and £6.80 during peak times. Under 5s will always be £5.50.

Why we love it: You can skate here all year round, but Santa himself will be taking to the rink from 2pm – 4.30pm every Saturday until the 22 December 2018.

Santa also pops up in a few extra Christmassy things you can do once you’re sessions up, including special breakfast and supper sessions alongside Santa, for an extra cost (around £10.95 per child, and £4.95 per adult.)

Booking info: Book your ice skating times online.

Images: Ice rink promo websites/Instagram/Twitter. Aberdeen pic via Evening Express

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