Ice Skating

 

 

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and more so in Manhattan. Christmas in New York City is something to be cherished. Of course there are crowds, idling tourists, plunging temperatures, but then there are Fifth Avenue stores wrapped in bundles and blazes of seasonal lights, noses nipped and cheeks of scarlet, piercing blue skies and a white sun casting frozen shadows long into the city.

And there's ice skating in New York City, falling flight on your backside while surrounded by some of the most iconic sights on the planet. Some venues struggle to fight back the crowds, but there are others where you'll share the occasion with a handful of locals, especially if it's early. 

Most people head to one of two venues - either the Wollman Rink in Central Park, or Rockefeller Plaza with 30 Rock soaring high above. Both are heavingly popular for ice skating in New York City, although Wollman Rink is larger and arguably more picturesque with the instantly recognisable skyline of 59th St to the south. Prepare your purse-strings for an assault, though - Rockefeller Plaza will charge up to $21 admission and then $10 for skate hire. 

Bryant Park has a large seasonal rink, The Pond, just a block from Times Square at 6th Avenue and 42nd St. Admission is free, but you'll still have to pay $14 for skate hire. The Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District also has a temporary rink beneath the increasingly popular High Line park - it's a good excuse to check out the independent stores and boutiques in the neighbourhood. Admission plus skate hire costs $15 in total.

If you want explore somewhere new, there are a few other options for ice skating in NYC. Central Park has another ice rink that's off the radar of most tourists because it edges close to the border of Harlem. You'll find Lasker Rink between 106th and 108th street, a stone's throw from the picturesque Harlem Meer, a glorious lake in the top-right corner of Central Park that the crowds rarely stumble upon. 

Another option for outdoor ice skating in New York City means a trip on the free ferry from Manhattan's Battery Park to Staten Island, and then the S61 bus to the War Memorial Ice Skating Rink in Clove Hills Park. It's not really a trip for first-time visitors - it'll take a lot out of your day and there's plenty to see on your first trip round - but the park offers a rugged, natural landscape that's worth a visit on a later date.

Finally, Brooklyn's Coney Island is a little out the way for Manhattan-centric tourists, and the indoor Abe Stark Rink is hardly as picturesque as a Central Park setting. On the plus side, you're next door to the towering red skeleton of the Parachute Jump, a fairground ride that was originally part of the 1939 World's Fair in Queens - and you're only footsteps from the beach and the Atlantic Ocean.  In all cases, check times and conditions before visiting any ice rink in NYC; opening times vary significantly from venue to venue, and unseasonal weather isn't uncommon in New York - an unlikely thaw will quickly scupper your plans.

  

   
"Twitchhiker – How One Man Travelled the World by Twitter" is Paul's book about his social media adventure around the world, published by Summersdale and available on Amazon.
 
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