Last week, we were lucky enough to attend the launch of the 2011 Royal Pavilion Ice Rink in Brighton and I’m happy to report that it’s at least as fabulous as last year. Now, between you and me, I’m no Jayne Torvill, so I sent my envoys out onto the slippery stuff, while I enjoyed the gastronomic delights of Feast bar and restaurant (lovely loungey feel). It took Alfie a while to pluck up the courage to go on the ice, but once introduced to the penguin skate helpers and shown the ‘special skates’ – double-bladed bob skates that strap on over your toddler’s normal shoes – he was won over. He proceeded to go happily ’round and round’ with Daddy and a penguin chum – little ones can either stand on the penguin and be pushed by an adult (great way to get them accustomed to the ice), or push the penguin themselves once their confidence builds.
It really is a delightful setting, in the shadow of the OTT Indian-inspired domes of the Pavilion, and even more appealing at night when the building is illuminated. My only criticism would be that for some inexplicable reason, the separated off mini rink for little ones is at the far end, so you have to cross the main rink to get to it, rather defeating the object of it in the first place. Festive family fun. Book now to go over holidays as I can guarantee it’ll get very busy. Open until 22 January. Adults: From £10. Children: From £7.
Here are a few more cool (ahem) rinks around the UK.
London has an array of locations, from the Tower of London, to the London Eye and the Natural History Museum, but my favourite is the fashion-fabulous Tiffany & Co’s Skate at Somerset House, above. If you’re still a little bit Bambi-like you can sign up for skate school, or join a storytelling session under the spectacular Christmas tree. Until 22 January. Adult: From £10.50. Child: From £7.50.
Another historic location is Hampton Court where your party can hire an ice guide for £32 per 15 people. Until 2 January. Adult: From £10.50. Child: From £8.
Or how about Winchester Cathedral, where the rink is situated in the middle of a Christmas market? Until 2 January. Adult: £9.50. Child: £5.
For a more modern vibe you can’t beat The Eden Project in Cornwall, where you’ll find parent and toddler sessions where your little one can play on the ice. Until 26 February. Tickets: £5 (plus admission ticket) and £3 to hire a penguin.
In Wales, there’s Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland on the lawns of the rather lovely City Hall, above. Until 2 January. Adult: £9. Child: £6.
Up North, why not try Spinningfields in Manchester, which has specific ‘Mums and Tots’ sessions (although I’m sure dads are made welcome too!) Until 2 January. Adult: £8.50. Child: £5.
In Scotland, you’ll find special 10-minute penguin sessions exclusively for under 7s at Glasgow on Ice. Until 3 January. Adult: £9.50. Child: £6.