Christmas means London’s outdoor skating rinks are back up and running. Whether you’re an expert skater or spend most of the time gripping the sides for dear life, it’s a fun way to spend an hour.

There’s one problem with this great idea though: it can be hella expensive. But if you’re willing to swerve the more popular times, you can skate for half the price paid by less well-informed Londoners. Here’s our Cheapo guide to London skating in 2023/4.

Quick tips to save money at London’s outdoor skate rinks

Look for off-peak slots and early-bird options, often found on morning sessions on weekdays. While fixed price spots may not seem great, they can work out cheaper on peak times than places with varied prices, so keep that in mind if you want to skate closer to Christmas. Of course, students and children generally get in cheaper and family tickets are available to help save too. As annoying as booking fees are, with such a popular pastime it’s better to book ahead than risk your chosen session being sold out (yes, even at 9 am).

If you’re looking for more festive feels, we’ve rounded up the best Christmas Markets for you; or, for a bit of sparkle, follow our walking tour of central London’s Christmas lights and check out our top picks for London Winter Illuminations this year.

1. Skate at Somerset House

Ice Skating Somerset House
Photo by Pedro Figueiredo used under CC

The grand dame of London’s outdoor skating rinks, amid the neoclassical splendour of Somerset House’s courtyard, this is also one of the most popular. It’s about as picturesque as it gets, and that’s without the huge 40ft Christmas tree.

Prices start at £11.00 for adults and £8.00 for children and concessions (including those on PIP and Universal Credit)—plus a £2.95 transaction fee per order. There are Skate Lates again this year, which combine DJ performances with evening skating. To nab the cheaper prices go earlier in the day if you can and opt for off-peak dates.

For a little after-skate treat, there are a few gourmet and alpine dining options as well as Whispering Angel rosé/cocktails at the Skate Lounge.

2. Glide at Battersea Power Station

Glide at Battersea ice rink
Glide at Battersea Power Station | Photo by Joshua Atkins

Glide at Battersea Power Station features three interconnecting rinks set against the backdrop of one of London’s most iconic buildings, with a spectacular 30ft Christmas tree in the centre.

Tickets start from £12.50 for adults or £38.00 for a family ticket (2 adults & 2 children or 1 adult & 3 children), but there are lots of other packages to choose from. Once you’re done on the ice, there is plenty to do: fairground rides, pub quizzes, a wide range of big-name food & drink options plus more shopping than Santa could handle.

3. Canary Wharf

Ice Skating London
Photo by Ungry Young Man used under CC

The Canary Wharf skating rink stays open until 24th February 2024, so it’s worth bearing in mind long after festive shenanigans are over. Boasting a 1200sqm rink, Canary Wharf is a great spot for some winter skating. There’s Off Piste, a rink-side bar for the observers, a roof lit by over 1,000 fairy lights so you can skate whatever the weather and plenty of shopping to be had nearby. The sessions last for 50 minutes and include skate-hire but it is one of the pricier options; tickets start from £20.95 for adults or £59.00 for a family ticket

4. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

london skating
Photo by Garry Knight used under CC

The Christmas extravaganza is back in Hyde Park, with its gigantic wheel, circus and entertainment shows, places to eat and drink and, of course, a skating rink. The bandstand provides live music and the chance to skate is pretty consistent, running from 10am-10pm with sessions lasting 50 minutes. Skate rental is included and it’s suggested your arrive 20 minutes early to get your skates and be ready to go.

Off-peak adults tickets cost £11.50, standard tickets cost £15.00 and peak tickets cost £16.50.

For children, it’s £8.50, £10.00 and £11.50 respectively and concession tickets save a pound on the adult fare. Family tickets cost £34.00, £40.00 and £46.00.

There are booking fees of between £3-£10 depending on your total amount. Tickets will be available from the box office but may sell out.

The question now is: When is off peak? The answer is not simple. Unfortunately, this information is only available when booking tickets and varies wildly, but generally weekends are entirely peak (bar the odd early session), and off-peak tickets can only be found on weekday mornings. Try the first 1-5 sessions of weekdays, up until Dec 14th. After that, some morning sessions are standard while afternoon are peak, including Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve, which is pretty good. There is no drop back down to off-peak after Christmas or New Year’s, but there are more standard prices to be had than peak prices on balance.

5. Hampton Court Palace

In the past Hampton Court had fixed prices for skating; this year, there is a slight variation depending on date and time. Adult tickets are from £19.00, with tickets for children up to 12 years old from £14.00. Family tickets offer some discounts and a booking fee applies to online purchases. Even with the new pricing scheme, the peak prices are among the most affordable in the list. Not to mention, does it get more festive than skating at a Tudor palace? Possibly not.

6. Skylight Tobacco Dock

A rooftop in London at dusk
Photo by Skylight London used under CC

This isn’t one of the major rinks and as such it’s a fair bit smaller but it is the only rooftop ice rink in Europe, so it’s an unusual one. It’s attached to Skylight’s rooftop bar in Tobacco Dock, replacing its summer croquet and petanque with skating as a fun alternative if you’re bored of drinking mulled cider and eating fondue (as if you can ever get bored of fondue). Tickets cost £15.00, get you 45 minutes of skating and can only be bought on the day, so booking a table/igloo is recommended. Open until mid January.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. This article was originally published in November 2017. Last updated on 2nd December 2023.

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Filed under: Things to Do

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