Find out prices, opening times and transport details for the capital’s alfresco, pop-up ice rinks this Christmas and winter season.
After an absence last year due to the pandemic, London’s alfresco ice rinks are back again for the 2021 festive season. Some of the capital’s most iconic buildings are transforming their courtyards and outdoor spaces into winter sports venues. Along with pop-up ice rinks, many are accompanied by heated bars and stalls, selling festive food and drink to warm you up after a spot of ice skating.
This 2021/2022 season will be the last year ever for the Natural History Museum’s outdoor rink as the space is being transformed into an urban wildlife hub, while a bit further east, the Tower of London’s rink is also taking a hiatus until next year.
Most rinks are open daily during their seasonal sessions, including Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but are closed on Christmas Day.
Here’s a guide to London ice rinks – both outdoor and permanent – open this winter season.
London’s outdoor temporary rinks
- 22 October 2021 – 16 January 2022 : Natural History Museum Ice Rink
One of the capital’s favourite open-air ice rink returns for the winter season for its final time. There is also a rink side café bar serving hot and cold drinks and meals. There is also a Penguin Skate Club, offering lessons for children aged 4-8yrs. Open 11am-10pm. Tickets: Adults from £12.65, Children from £8.80. Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 5BD. Nearest station: South Kensington. To book, visit the Natural History Museum website.
- 23 October 2021 – 26 February 2022 : Ice Rink Canary Wharf
London’s longest open-air winter ice rink returns to Docklands after last year’s absence. There will also be the heated, Off Piste bar from Pravha serving drinks. Open daily 10am-10pm. Tickets (45 min sessions inc. skate hire): Adults and teens 13-18yrs £17.95, Children 4-12yrs £11.95. Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For booking, visit the Ice Rink Canary Wharf website.
- 11 November 2021 – TBC January 2022 : Skylight London (Tobacco Dock)
Skate on London’s rooftops with views of the City of London’s skyscrapers. Features alfresco and covered bars, igloos, and street food. Open Thu-Sun only. Free entry to Skylight. Skating tickets: TBC (45 minutes inc. skate hire). Skylight (Pennington Street entrance), Tobacco Quay, Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For booking and more information, visit the Skylight London website.
- 17 November 2021 – 16 January 2022 : Skate @ Somerset House
Take to the ice in the courtyard of the historic Somerset House. As well as general skating, they are also club nights on ice and skating lessons. Also in the courtyard will be gourmet dining at Chalet Barragiste with Jimmy Garcia and hot and cold drinks at the Skate Lounge by Moët & Chandon. Session times last 45 minutes. Tickets: Adults from £11, children from £8.50. Somerset House, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information and booking, visit the Somerset House website. Read the rest of this entry
Head to Wembley this winter to check out the festive light show, on until early January 2022.
This winter, Wembley Park’s festive light festival is returning to bring some neon and colour to the dark nights. Following the success of the inaugural Winterfest two years ago, the collection of installations is returning to the streets of HA9 for six weeks. Launching on 25 November 2021, the open-air light trail, themed ‘Reunited in Light’, will be open to the public seven days a week.
The launch of Winterfest will coincide of the switch-on ceremony of London’s largest LED Christmas tree on Wembley Park Boulevard. The 25-metre high, electronic conifer has been decorated with new digital artwork by local Brent artist Yoni Alter, including 100,000 kinetic lights which pulse to different rhythms.
Meanwhile, bespoke light installations will be peppered throughout the entertainment district, through trees, digital totems, lampposts and light banners. ‘Reunion’, a new light installation from Kumquat Lab, will have its world exclusive unveiling in Market Square. The structure features a series of light arches which visitors are invited to walk through and meet under. Joining the collection on 9 December 2021, will be the light installation ‘Reflections of the Future’, offering guests the chance to explore a multi-sensory journey walkway.
Along with the light show, Wembley Park’s new permanent outdoor gallery will launch on Olympic Way with the ‘Reunited in Light’ photography exhibition (25 November 2021 – 27 February 2022). The collection features work from 12 UK-based photographers, including Tami Aftab and Sophie Harris-Taylor.
- Winterfest runs from 24 November 2021 – 9 January 2022. Free admission. Open 10am-10pm (but best viewed after dark!). At Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.
Find out what else is on in London
Just a short blog post to wish Memoirs of a Metro Girl readers a Merry Christmas. Hope you get to spend time with your loved ones and ignoring your diet for a few days and enjoying some good food and drink.
This year, I am taking the rare step to actually leave London for Christmas. It will be strange as I always look forward to the city being so quiet after the mass exodus – this year I will be part of said exodus.
To those people staying in London for the festive period – or perhaps you’re a visitor coming to the capital for Christmas – here’s a few ideas of what’s on around town. Of course, most things are closed on Christmas Day.
– Visit the Winterfest light festival at Wembley Park.
– Check out the last few weeks of Olafur Eliasson’s interactive art exhibition @ Tate Modern.
– Follow the Snowman sculpture trail in London Bridge.
– Watch a festive film on ice at Big Screen on Ice at QUEENS.
– Enjoy the contemporary art at the Sculpture in the City exhibition in the City of London.
– Go skating on one of London’s outdoor ice rinks.
– Find out where London’s festive terraces, pop-ups and Christmas cocktails are.
– Check out one of London’s pantomimes, ballets and Christmas shows.
Wishing all readers of Memoirs of a Metro Girl a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
See you on the other side of the decade!
P.S. Or if you’re ready for January 2020, find out what’s on in London then.
As much as I love London’s Christmas lights, they can often be little more than some twinkling colours, the same ones from last year (sorry Regent Street, I’m looking at you!), or, even worse, covered in branding which strips out any festive sentiment.
However, this season, the Baker Street Quarter in Marylebone is doing something rather different for their first ever Christmas lights. The district will tell the story of its people and places of years gone by through a series of light installations. The spectacular lights will be featured in four different sites in the area, linked together by stunning illuminated lights along Baker Street. Designed by the Michael Grubb studio, there will designs lighting up Portman Square Garden, Manchester Square Garden, 55 Baker Street and at the Baker Street and Marylebone Road junction. The lights will be switched on on Thursday 21 November 2019, followed by a Christmas lights discovery walk on Wednesday 4 December (6pm).
The first installation in Portman Square Garden is ‘Lady Montagu’s Blue Stocking Parties’ – a nod to the wealthy philanthropist and literary critic’s fabulous bashes she hosted in Montagu House for her 18th century intellectual circle. Next up in Manchester Square Gardens, it will be a classic installation inspired by how the garden would have been lit in the mid 18th century as a ‘Marylebone Pleasure Garden’. Meanwhile, at 55 Baker Street will be memories of the ‘Baker Street Bazaar’, a popular attraction on the very spot which showcased the weird and wonderful from 1822 to World War II, when it was bombed. Finally, at the Baker Street and Marylebone Road junction lights will be inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Four lamp columns on each corner of the junction have been inspired by Sherlock’s sole Christmas tale ‘The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle’.
- Baker Street Quarter’s Christmas lights will be on from 21 November 2019 – 6 January 2020. From Baker Street Station to Wigmore Street and Portman Square), Marylebone, W1. Nearest stations: Baker Street or Marylebone. For more information, visit the Baker Street Quarter website.
- The Christmas Lights Discovery Walk takes place on 4 December 2019 at 6pm, starting at 55 Baker Street. Free. Participants can also enjoy 20% off drinks at the Churchill Bar & Terrace.
For a guide to what else is on in London in January 2020, click here.
At this time of year, a rooftop bar isn’t always a natural choice for a night out. However, this season, City of London drinking destination Madison have given their terrace a winter makeover. Their outdoor space has been turned into an enticing, cosy festive hideout, with a special winter drinks menu of hot aperitifs.
Last week, I went along with a friend to check out Madison’s new seasonal menu and to try their winter warmers. Madison is a restaurant and bar spanning the top floor of the One New Change complex and boasts amazing views of neighbouring St Paul’s Cathedral and the capital skyline. I’ve previously visited the bar for summer alfresco drinks and have always enjoyed their cocktails so was looking forward to seeing what they could do with the changing season.
The night of our visit was pretty cold, but fortunately Madison are well prepared with patio heaters and cosy faux fur and tartan blankets to snuggle up under. Their rooftop space features a series of alpine-inspired chalets with twinkling lights, which really gives it a Christmassy atmosphere.
As well as their usual wine and cocktail list, Madison’s bartenders have curated a special Hot Aperitifs menu featuring a selection of six warm cocktails. My friend and I both have a sweet tooth so the Chocolate Delight (Bulleit Whisky, chocolate and salted caramel) seemed like a good place to start. There was just a hint of the whisky’s smokiness, but it was predominantly sweet. The cocktail did remind me of a boozy hot chocolate and was very easy to drink. As a regular gin connoisseur, I also couldn’t resist trying the Aromatic Genever (Gin and green apple), which was pretty strong with a hint of fruitiness. Meanwhile, my friend went for a more traditional Christmas drink – a Vin Brule (Italian Mulled Wine), which she really enjoyed.
Aside from our hot concoctions, we also ordered a sharing platter from the bar menu. We ate a selection of warm snacks, including tallegio and walnut arancini (my personal favourite), buttermilk chicken, sautéed mini chorizo sausage and smoked tomato hummus with seeded crackers. There was a good, tasty variety of food and the selection was a great accompaniment for a cocktail session.
Overall, we had a great evening. The service was friendly and attentive, while the atmosphere was very festive. Despite the cool outside temperature, we felt very cosy during our few hours on the roof thanks to the heaters and blankets. The cocktail menu had something for everyone’s tastes, although I particularly loved the Chocolate Delight, which really lived up to its name. I’ll definitely be returning for some Christmas drinks.
- Madison (rooftop terrace), 1 New Change, City of London, EC4M 9AF. Nearest station: St Paul’s. The rooftop terrace chalets is open from 7 November 2018 – 28 February 2019. Open daily 4pm until late. To book a chalet, contact the Madison London events team on email@example.com . For more information, visit the Madison London website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in Febuary, click here.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.