Active Travel



SKATE at Somerset House

Dec 4, 2015 | Uncategorized | 6 comments

Tom and I love Christmas, so aim to fit in a few Christmas traditions during December to make the most of the festive season. As well as taking on Advent Running, we’ve also got a cycling tour, nighttime at Kew Gardens, a wedding, a Pantomime, and afternoon tea booked in the next few weeks. On Wednesday we went on our annual ice skating trip to SKATE at Somerset house.

skating at Somerset House Londoner

Photo from The Londoner  because sadly I do not have a photographer boyfriend

A little known fact- if you go to SKATE before the 4th December then you can take advantage of the ‘off peak’ discount, this also applies during some daytime slots in January. Plus they give a student discount during some of these sessions.

I was running really late after a meeting (ok, coffee with a friend) ran over so there was a bit of a queue for bag drop and skate hire when we arrived but luckily they all moved swiftly. We were out on the ice within 15 minutes of arriving for our 4.15 skate.

As always, I hit the ice and felt like Bambi. The first few laps are spent finding your feet and avoiding the corners where the real beginners congregate. There seemed to be a lot of people falling, with one woman hitting her head hard against the ice and being assisted by medical staff. I took it a little more conservatively after seeing her accident.

Tom and I stuck to the crowd moving anti-clockwise at a decent pace near the perimeter, watching out for those losing control for fear of being brought down with them.

Of course we had to pose for some photos with the Christmas tree and the SKATE sign. One day I’m going to get Christmas cards like this printed, despite risking ridicule from everyone I know.

Skate at Somerset house

If you’re a Londoner and want to go for a date, enjoy a skate with a group of friends or think it would be a fun festive family activity, here’s my round up of the best outdoor ice skating rinks in London:

5 Best Ice Skating Rinks in London 

  1. SKATE at Somerset House – in my opinion this is the most festive skating experience in London, with sponsors Fortnum and Mason really getting you in the Christmas spirit with a giant tree, sweet treats and a sparkling gift shop to decorate your house in a similar style.
  2. Natural History Museum – with Swarovski as the title sponsor, this is the twinkliest of skating rinks. The surrounding trees, not to mention central Christmas tree are bedecked in lights making the evening sessions rather special. The actual rink is a little smaller than at Somerset house so can become slightly crowded for those that see themselves as experts.
  3.  Hampton Court Ice Rink – I’m not sure when iceskating was introduced to the UK, but I’m pretty sure Henry VIII would not have been a skilled skater. Set within the Tudor palace, this place is steeped in historical glory.
  4. EyeSkate – zip around beneath the impressive London Eye and watch as the wheel floats gently past into the sky. For a truly magical evening, book a skate followed by Champagne experience on the London Eye!
  5. Tower of London – another historical fave, within the grounds of the infamous Tower of London, this ice-rink provides impressive views of the Tower of London, Shard and on a clear day, down to Canary Wharf. The ideal location for a post work trip, tourist activity for those visiting London or a weekend jaunt into the city.

What are your favourite Christmas traditions in your family? Can you ice skate? I actually had lessons when I was about 8, although I can just about propel myself forwards and cannot remember any of the ‘tricks’ I used to attempt!


  1. Nicole

    What is advent running?

  2. runningprincess78

    This looks great.
    Our first date was ice skating in December, so my husband and I continue to go every year. Yes, we look like Bambi, but it’s great fun. We’ve also since added the tradition of at least one Santa run and we also like a short Xmas morning run together as throughout the rest of the year we train separately. It wouldn’t be Xmas without these things.

  3. Cathryn

    I need to do this!!! There’s a rink in Union Sq in San Francisco which is pretty fab (if a tad warm) and up near Lake Tahoe there are a few rinks. I kind of love skating although I’m always seriously terrified I’ll fall and someone will skate over my fingers or skate INTO my head and there will be blood everywhere on the ice. And I also like recreating the end of ‘Bolero’ with my husband if he’s had enough to drink beforehand 🙂

  4. fionajarrett

    Wow, it’s a gorgeous setting and it all looks very atmospheric and Christmassy. I haven’t been ice skating in years but hope to bring my niece this year 🙂

  5. Beauty in Christ (@Emily11949309)

    Oh wow that looks like a dream! <3 I like ice skating, as long as it's low key. I'm not very athletic, so it takes me about 10-20 minutes to get my bearings. 😀

  6. Steph

    I am a proud member of the beginners’ corner! I’m the kind of “skater” that, if I can get on the ice without falling over (a victory in itself), I can only skate in straight lines. I’ve long held the belief that there is a “northern gene” – I went to uni in Sheffield, and everyone north of Birmingham seemed pretty good – the southerners though. Well. 😀



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