Ice skating

Somerset House, London

The first outdoor ice rink in London opened at Somerset House eight years ago, and you can still pirouette or fall on your bum to your heart's content in front of the outstanding neoclassical façade.

Adults from £10.50, depending on the time of day; children from £7.50.


Snowdome, Tamworth, Staffs

For all those British children who have never experienced the agony and the ecstasy of tobogganing, the Snowdome, with its real snow slopes, is a potential starting point: they clear all the skiers off the 250m slope, put on some music, and whoosh, you're off. You can also throw a few snowballs, pet a reindeer, ski, skate, or move into an igloo.

Adults £8.50, children £6.50, for 30 minutes,

Cresta Run

Chatham Ski Slope, Kent

This is one of the longest Cresta Runs in the country, at 650m, but calm your nerves: there is a brake on the cart and you can slow it down as much as you want. In the setting of the Capstone Country Park, Chatham's dry ski slope is also not a bad way to spend an afternoon: children love the snow tubes.

Two rides on the run £4, or five for £8,

Dry-slope snowboarding

Norfolk Ski Club, Norfolk

Unlikely though it seems, Norfolk has a ski club and has even produced a snowboarding champion (James Thorne). Founded in 1972, the club has grown and grown, and even managed to find a hill, which they've enlarged a little bit, with the help of local excavations for a shopping centre.

One year family membership £61, a day's £13; then an hour's open practice starts at £4.50 for children.


Ski Rossendale, Rawtenstall, Lancs

An even more chaotic version of tobogganing, snow-tubing involves sitting in a giant inflated tube and whirling off down the slope at high velocity. On Rossendale's 200m Dendex slope that's quite a long way to go, but the slope looks out over the beautiful Rossendale Valley. Stop for a coffee in the cafe, perched high up over the views.

One hour's snow tubing £6, but you need to book,

Dry-slope skiing

Llandudno Ski and Snowboard Centre, Llandudno.

One of the most picturesque settings in the country, at the base of the Great Orme, looking out over the Irish Sea and the slopes of Snowdonia. There's a 200m Perma Snow slope for skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing, and there's also an extra-long Cresta Run.

90 minutes open practice, including boots and skis is £13 for adults, £10 for children. You need to be able to control your speed to take part in an open session.

Skiing and Fondue

Bracknell Ski and Snowboard Centre, Berks

All right, so eating fondue isn't actually an olympic winter sport but the idea of a morning on the (dry)-ski slopes, followed by a warm bowl of fondue in the ski lodge is brilliant, even if you're half a mile from Reading instead of Chamonix.

One hour's skiing £30, followed by fondu.
Booking essential.

Ice Hockey

Dundonald International Ice Bowl, Belfast

The Belfast Giants - one of the top ice hockey teams in the UK - have played a big part in the sport's popularity here. Ice hockey lessons sell out fast, and you can also do a bit of ice skating.

Course of six lessons is £45 adults, £40 children.

Ice Skating

Winter Wonderland, Edinburgh

Beneath the brooding silhouette of Edinburgh castle you can practise your choctaws and spiral sequences to your heart's content. For 11 years Princes Street Gardens has held one of Europe's largest ice-rinks; this year Spiegeltent is setting up its La Gaiete tent alongside a row of enticing food stalls, so once you've twirled yourself out, you can get a drink from Speigeltent's all-day bar and fill up with crepes and crackling pork.

Adults starts at £7.50 (with skate hire), children £5.


Fenton's Rink, Kent

England's only dedicated curling rink. Built in 2004, Fenton's is an amiable sort of place: you can have a lesson, attend an open session, or just book a couple of lanes with your mates and have a laugh. They've got equipment too.

For two teams of four to rent a lane, equipment and a bit of coaching, costs £144; an hour's private coaching for one is £30,

Ice skating

The Eden Project, Cornwall

When winter comes along the world-famous Eden project sets up an ice rink (powered on a green electricity tariff, of course) next to their rainforest. "You can have a good skate and then go straight into subtropical temperatures," says David Rowe. "It's a pretty unusual experience".

£5 per person for a 40 minute slot. Booking advised.



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