The Ice Rink and the Christmas Fair at the Natural History Museum are billed as 'London's most spectacular winter attraction'.
Well, what could be better for a cold November afternoon when the nights are drawing in and the park is out of the question? We took our two boys (five and three years old) and a couple of visiting family members to see if it lived up to the hype.
To a certain extent, it does. It's in a fabulous location right in front of the beautiful Victorian façade of the museum, and is prettily lit by twinkling white lights in the surrounding trees, so it certainly looked festive enough.
Our timed slot of an hour was more than enough (especially considering that, graceless elephant that I am, I only made it once around the rink, and not without falling over), and the check-in and check-out system were well-set up. Despite the numbers of people involved, it all went amazingly smoothly.
The rink itself, however, was very crowded. It's part of the fun, I know, avoiding novice skaters – like me – careering from one safe haven to the next, but it was a bit hazardous if you're trying to steer a nervous five-year-old around, as my husband was doing. There is a childrens' / beginners' area off in one corner, but you need to be able to navigate your way almost completely once around the main rink to reach it.
Luckily, my Dutch husband knew what he was doing on the ice, and had also had the presence of mind to request 'double bladed' skates for our son - that strap on over your shoes - rather than forcing him to deal with normal skating boots for the first time in such crowded conditions. Contrary to our expectations, he loved it, and has been asking to go back ever since.
The atmosphere was happy, relaxed, and cosmopolitan. Skaters consisted of the usual London mix of tourists, locals, and not-so-locals up for the day, with the odd supermodel thrown in to spice things up a little. Who knew Elle McPherson could skate?
Sadly the Christmas Market was not fully open when we visited, so there were no retail therapy opportunities to report on, but there was still the opportunity for a nice mug of hot chocolate or a glass of mulled wine – and at least now I have the perfect excuse to go back and check it out all over again without the inconvenience of having to pretend I might actually skate….
The Ice Rink at the Natural history Museum is open from the 6th November 2008 to the 18th January 2009. Check the Natural History Museum website for full details at https://www.nhm.ac.uk/index.html. For tickets, book online or by phone via Ticket Master, or visit the Ice Rink box office to purchase them in person.
This post was written by Potty Mummy, who blogs at The Potty Diaries, where she chronicles the trials of potty training her boys and tries to keep from becoming potty.
Photo credit: Just Tom
PS -- This photo is actually Somerset House, another ice skating venue in London, not the Natural History Museum, but you get the idea...