Review: family-friendly festive fun on the ice in the idyllic grounds of Hampton Court Palace

Nothing says ‘Christmas’ like feeling a bit unsteady on your legs, being frozen to the bone and wishing you hadn’t eaten quite so much.

So what better way to get in to the festive spirit than taking your chances on the ice rink – to add to the mix, why not take a contrary toddler along for the ride too?

The ice rink at Hampton Court Palace is truly idyllic, with a view of the distinctive building once home to Henry VIII and a glimpse of the Thames now and then too. There are lights strung up round the edges and family-friendly tunes that you definitely won’t be skating in time to.

Throughout, I was doubting my decision to take the three-year-old along with me, wishing I was in better shape generally, and cursing myself for not wearing thicker trousers each time I had to kneel on the ice to assist aforementioned small child who, by the minute, changed his mind from loving to loathing his penguin skate aid.

The set up at the ice rink is perfect. You’re advised to get there half an hour before the start of your session (wise since the sessions last 45 minutes and you don’t want to miss a single one of them!) to collect skates and gingerly wobble your way to the edge of the rink. For tiny people there are skates a bit like those kids’ rollerskates that fit over the top of your normal shoes and are adjustable to fit even the smallest of feet.

You can hire a skate aid – we named ours Fred and found it invaluable, even if mid-tantrum he was, more than once, declared ‘horrible’.

By the end of our session, though, we’d all found our feet and were having a great time. Once you’re chucked off the ice you have to pass through the cafe area to exit and – would you believe it – I found myself heading straight for the counter and ordering a hot chocolate, taking a seat near the Christmas tree and laughing mirthfully as the ‘newbies’ out on the ice wobbled and slid their way around.

Like I said, nothing says ‘Christmas’ like a trip to the ice rink.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.hamptoncourtpalaceicerink.co.uk

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