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Seven fabulously festive ice-skating rinks to visit this Christmas

From a Swiss ski resort-inspired setting to the battlements of a medieval castle, these are the most magical rinks in Britain

The Brighton Pavilion ice rink
The Brighton Pavilion ice rink
The Sunday Times

There’s something magical about wrapping up and gliding onto an ice rink bedecked with twinkling lights. From atmospheric buildings to pretty parks, these are the top rinks on which to feel frosty and festive.

1. Skate at Somerset House, London


The capital has several seasonal rinks, but this one, framed by the Georgian courtyard of Somerset House and featuring a 40ft Christmas tree is a showstopper. This year Skate has a Swiss ski resort feel. Tuck into fondue and hot chocolate in the adjoining bars and restaurants while DJs spin songs as you skate (adults from £14, under-12s £8, until January 14; somersethouse.org.uk). Stay nearby at the luxe One Aldwych, in the thick of Covent Garden’s theatres and restaurants.
Details Room only doubles from £600 (onealdwych.com)

2. The Royal Pavilion Ice Rink, Brighton, East Sussex


Not only is the setting striking — with the Pavilion’s bulbous domes illuminated behind — this is also the UK’s only Christmas rink powered entirely by renewable energy. Daytime sessions here are cheaper, but it’s most spectacular at night, when twinkling ornamental trees light the rink-side bar, serving hot chocolate, mulled wine and snacks (adults from £11 under-12s £9, until January 7; royalpavilionicerink.co.uk). Stay at the bohemian Artist Residence Brighton, on the seafront. It offers an all-day brunch and has a cocktail bar, plus big suites with bunk beds for families.
Details Room-only doubles from £139 (artistresidence.co.uk)

3. Edinburgh Christmas ice rink

The Scottish capital is a winning winter break, with crisp, icy days enhancing its handsome spires and charming lanes. Visit “Edinburgh Christmas”, a market with food stalls and a funfair in the city centre, and you can whizz around its West George Street rink. It’s strung with pretty lights and being covered means it’s all-weather (adults from £11, under-12s from £8.50, until January 6; edinburgh-christmas.com). Continue the festivities at the Waldorf Astoria — The Caledonian, a grande dame set in a Victorian railway station building.
Details B&B doubles from £178 (hilton.com)

4. Skate Manchester

You’ll find Manchester’s Christmas rink in the city’s Cathedral Gardens development — a covered but alfresco number decked out in theatrical shades of purple and green. Parents will love the handy penguin-shaped skate aids for smaller children, plus the free helmets. There are also calmer, dedicated parent-and-toddler hours each Wednesday (adults from £15.50, children 3-12 from £12.50, until January 2; skatemanchester.com). To make a weekend of it, stay at the gorgeous boutique King Street Townhouse hotel, with its glam urban spa, roof-level heated plunge pool and private cinema.
Details Room-only doubles from £143 (kingstreettownhouse.co.uk)


5. Bath on Ice, Somerset

Surrounded by Royal Victoria Park, Bath’s rink feels like skating on a rural lake, wrapped in nature. Christmas tunes and the scent of mulled wine drift over from Moguls Alpine Bar on the glowing pavilion, which is a great spot to warm up with a hot dog or a wood-fired pizza (adults £14.50, under-12s £12.50, until January 3; bathonice.co.uk). The Royal Crescent Hotel, with its 12m indoor pool and insider tours of the city, is a pampering spot to spend the night.
Details B&B doubles from £300 (royalcrescent.co.uk)

6. The Ice Factor, York, North Yorkshire

The largest festive rink in the north of England is at Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, which springs up each winter at the Designer Outlet on the outskirts of York. You can enter the Wonderland for free, but skating is ticketed. Glide around its 30ft Christmas tree and admire the views: log cabins, light-wrapped trees and a sociable rink-side terrace where you can enjoy a drink afterwards (adults £14.50, under-16s £13.50, until January 7; yorkshireswinterwonderland.com). Dip into the historic delights of York at the Principal, an elegant hotel just 20 minutes’ drive away.
Details Room-only doubles from £94 (theprincipalyork.com)

7. Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

Here you’ll be skating not only under the stars, but beneath the battlements of this dazzling medieval castle. The spacious rink comes with fabulous illuminations after dark, and you can book a combined ticket to visit the landmark before your skate session; if you’re lucky, you’ll catch its towers and grounds dusted with snow (from £11, November 25 to January 7; warwick-castle.com). Stay at the vine-draped Mallory Court country house hotel for its indoor pool, whirlpool tub, steam room and sauna.
Details Room-only doubles from £122 (mallory.co.uk)

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