15 November– 6 January
Part of the city’s sparkling Winter Wonderland funfair, Cardiff’s open-air rink has a clear span roof so skaters can see the lovely City Hall and the night sky while being sheltered from the elements. A new ski-lodge-styled bar for 2018 will serve everything from grilled sauages to sweet crêpes.
3 November–13 January
Those summer scorchers at the seaside might be a distant memory, but there’s still reason to head to the coast this Christmas. Set against the city’s Indo-Saracenic-style former royal residence, Brighton’s rink has special free sessions for under-5s, and warming offers at the Rinkside Bar & Kitchen range from hot chocolate with marshmallows to ginger wine and craft beers.
16 November–5 January
It’s hard to choose between Edinburgh’s rinks, but St Andrew Square gets our money for its unique elliptical shape and the fact that it’s set around the Melville Monument, which makes it more of an ice-skating race-track. Another contender has to be Princes Street Gardens with its backdrop of the Scott Monument and iconic Edinburgh Castle. edinburghschristmas.com.
17 November– 2 January
Also open-sided but clear-roofed, this real ice rink has a gorgeous setting beside one of Europe’s finest cathedrals. For 2018, it will be centred on a huge Christmas tree for extra festive magic. More than 100 wooden chalets surrounding the rink — part of the cathedral’s Christmas market — sell treats including bratwurst, mince pies and Stollen, in addition to gifts and crafts.
14 November–13 January
The capital positively glitters with skating rinks over the festive season. The most magical is at Somerset House, where a skate school, the Polar Bear Club with under-8s slots and wheelchair sessions make the ice accessible to all, while the pop-up Fortnum’s Lodge offers suitably calorific Skate Extras including a sharing mince pie with clotted cream and chocolate fondues.
If you’re looking for some food-filled festive cheer, check out our pick of the best food Christmas markets here.
Published in the December 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)