If you’re looking for a change of scenery and searching for a special destination this winter, London is a fantastic place to spend the festive season. What’s more, there are lots of wonderfully festive, traditional and modern ways to celebrate Christmas while staying in the city.
One of the most popular things for Londoners to enjoy this time of year is to go ice skating at one of the city’s numerous open air skating rinks, and there's plenty of great options to choose from! Here's our pick of the very best...
Somerset House Ice Rink
13th November 2019 - 12th January 2020
As one of the city's most impressive buildings, Somerset House is noted for hosting a wide variety of great events throughout the year, but during winter it has become synonymous with the Somerset House Ice Rink.
For a few months, the courtyard will be frozen and a 40ft Christmas tree installed, where skaters can enjoy both a basic turn around the grounds and many more key events during the festive season. Be sure to look out for everything from club nights to skating classes and of course the Fortnum & Mason Alpine Lodge, where visitors can get away from skating for a break and some delicious treats.
There will also be a Christmas arcade, and bars and cafes around the skating rink. For the first time in its 20 year history, the Somerset House Ice Rink will be open 24-hours a day on select days throughout the 2019 season, alongside an accompanying exhibition.
Be sure to check the official Somerset House website for details of days when you can skate for extended periods, as tickets are now available for the ice rink's winter season.
Skylight at Tobacco Dock
November 2019 – January 2020
London is increasingly famous for its rooftop bars and fantastic views from a high altitude, so it was inevitable that someone would have the bright idea of combining a rooftop space with an ice rink. Skylight, located in Tobacco Dock, is one of the city's finest spots for enjoying a few cocktails and indulging in those popular London views while staying at 4 star hotels in Hyde Park, particularly during the summer months.
For winter 2018, the venue was transformed into an outdoor rooftop skating rink – and this feature will return for 2019. While the official launch date has yet to be announced, visitors from November – January can expect to enjoy this incredible space, ideal for enjoying a bite to eat, some seasonal skating or even a game of ice hockey.
If you prefer a slower pace, then there will also be igloos at a lower level of the complex, completing a suitably festive experience during your London stay.
Natural History Museum Ice Rink
19th October 2019 – January 2020
Located in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum is one of London's most popular museums all throughout the year, but during the festive season it can be enjoyed in a whole new light!
First opening during the October half term holidays, here you'll be able to skate around the Natural History Museum Christmas tree, as the courtyard is transformed into an ice rink throughout the winter months. If you're staying at accommodation in Hyde Park London but don't want to skate, then you can still get involved.
The courtyard also has a bar serving both hot and cold drinks, and there are balcony views offering a glimpse at the action below. This is the perfect way to stay cosy while others travelling with you take a spin!
Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink
22nd November 2019 – January 2020
If you're a history buff visiting London, then this is certainly one of the most unusual – not to mention most impressive – ways to go ice-skating while you stay locally at hotels on Westbourne Terrace London.
With a dramatic, illuminated Tudor backdrop to explore, you can not only enjoy a few turns on the ice, but also warm up afterwards with a range of snacks and drinks at the Ice Rink Cafe & Bar. If you've always wondered what it's like to visit an authentic palace after dark, consider a trip in the evening to see the venue at its most dramatic!
You'll be able to skate here this winter from 22nd November 2019.
Tower of London Ice Rink
November 2019 – January 2020
While we're on the subject of historically-minded skating locations, they don't get much more dramatic than the Tower of London! Having served as everything from a palace to a prison (and notorious medieval execution spot), the tower is packed full of historical stories – and the fantastic, Norman-era locale is set to be transformed for the winter season from November 2019 to January 2020.
As with some of the best skating locations in the city, you'll be able to take a break from the ice by joining the crowds in the adjoined cafe and marquee, where you can enjoy the views and see the snowflake projections on the castle walls in more detail while you stay at your Hyde Park Hotel in London.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland Ice Rink
21st November 2019 - 5th January 2020
The annual festive extravaganza that is Winter Wonderland is always one of the major highlights of the season, and this year is set to be no different. Visitors can expect plenty of seasonal entertainment including everything from shows to mulled wine stands, but of course, a primary draw for many will be the delightful ice rink.
Here you can skate around a bandstand under a canopy of fairy lights to the sound of acoustic music – not a bad way to spend your time during a stay in the city! It’s one of our favourites, but also the largest open-air ice rink anywhere in the UK, so you can expect plenty of crowds at peak times of the day and particularly at the weekend.