When it comes to iconic Winter activities, few folks have access to a ski slope or louge run. Happily, there are a surprisingly large number of ice rinks around, permanent and seasonal, and skating offers heaps of fun for the whole family!
The most glam skating rink in the UK is definitely in the courtyard of Somerset House in London. This most august of skating venues runs a Skate School, lets the little ones loose in total safety via their Polar Cub Club, boasts rink-side refreshments in the shape of a Skate Lounge, and even has late Skate Club Nights featuring top DJs. Somerset House's rink is only open until Sunday 11th January, so you'd better (ahem) get your skates on if you want to soak up its singular atmosphere while gliding along...
If you're outside the capital, fear not, as you can track down your local venue using the National Ice Skating Association of Great Britain and NI's handy online guide.
And do we really need to mention that half of the pleasure of ice skating is warming up over a steaming mug of hot chocolate or mulled wine? Thought not...
Here are our top tips for ice skating fun (and no nasty accidents):
- Make sure your skates fit properly: Ask the assistant at the skating rink to make sure that your skates are tied up properly. Loose skates will make it difficult to stay upright and if they're too tight, you'll find the whole experience pretty uncomfortable.
- Warm up as you would for any exercise: Ice skating venues are bound to be colder than your average gym (we'd hope!) and muscle strain can really take the shine off the day.
- Take a lesson: Even if it's only for half an hour, getting some help will enable you to pick up the basics earlier and help you to relax and enjoy yourself.
- Don’t look down: Keep your eyes on where you're going, then you'll be less likely to collide with anyone.
- Knees bent, weight forward: Leaning back will make you more likely to slip over. Use your arms to to aid balance, keep them outstretched ahead.
- If you fall, it's hands out, fingers in: I don't think we really need to say anymore…
- Learn to stop: This is equally as important as going forward! Just bend your knees a little, turn your toes inwards and your heels out, then the blades will dig into the ice slightly, bringing you to a halt.
- Keep going the right way: Skating against the direction that everybody else is going can prove a real mistake.
- Have fun: Everybody falls down, unless you're an Olympic competitor, so don't take it to heart!