"Ice skating at the Natural History Museum?" My eight-year-old son was a bit confused when I told him where we were off to. Dinosaurs "and those yummy cakes in the cafe" are a familiar attraction, but their open air ice rink has somehow managed to pass us by, despite having run for six Christmases.
We were lucky to go on the opening night, so the rink was user friendly in terms of crowds (our skating companions being a cast member from The Only Way is Essex and former WAG Lizzie Cundy...) so we got a stress-free skate on the 1,000 square metre rink. Well, as stress-free as it can be with a terrified 38-year-old (me) and a small boy clutching a push along skate-mate penguin as though his life depended on it.
But fun it most definitely was - even if you are a rubbish skater, being out in the open air, under trees decked with gorge twinkly lights just makes it so magical. As my rubbish photo above shows - it is heavy on the twinkle! It can be a bit arduous if you are the only adult taking kids though - going as a family or group means you can all get a decent turn at skating rather than just supervising.
Alongside the main rink, there is a small 'children's only' area, so even the littlest visitors can skate in safety - and as mentioned above - those push-along penguins are an absolute God send if you have a nervous or novice child in your group (although I spotted a couple of grown-ups trundling along with them too!).
There is also a gorgeous old fashioned carousel alongside the rink, which we spent about half an hour going round and round on, but which my son would have happily stayed on all night...
Don't let the thought of 'just skating' put you off - there is a lovely Cafe Bar overlooking the rink which does a quality range of food at good prices (rather than just over-priced fried-up junk) with an open air balcony, which is lovely to just chill on with a drink or hot chocolate and watch all the skaters below. There's something very charming, old fashioned and totally magical about it.
I'll def be going back for another session - although this time with a group of friends - the small person's had his fun, now it's my turn!
The rink is open now until 8 January, and tickets prices vary from £8.50 peak / £8 off peak for kids under 12, to £13 peak / £11.50 off peak for adults. There is a family ticket deal for two adults and two children or one adult and three children at a cost of £34.50 peak / £31 off peak.
More info at: www.nhmskating.com
There are pop-up ice rinks across London. Click here for more info.