Skate at Somerset House

 

 

When does Christmas start for you? When the garlands and decorations in the streets are lit up? When you eat the first mince pie? For me, it’s the opening of Skate at the Somerset House. Yes, I know, there are plenty more ice rinks in London… But I love the architecture, the beautiful yard feeling like a protective cocoon, yet allowing you to look up and enjoy the blue sky, a sense of space and freedom. I have claimed it before and will say it again – it is the most special place to slide on the ice in the capital!

I’m a terrible skater. I have no balance, no technique. I start from scratch every single time, the precious experiences having me taught nothing it seems. I advance cautiously, slowly. I know the sense of safety is a false one – if I stop focusing for just a few seconds, I will fall. That’s not why I’m here for. It simply doesn’t matter if you are good or not: everybody’s always happy here. Children laugh. Parents and kids, friends, lovers hold hands. You might be holding onto the fence for your life, unable to let go, someone will always give a few words of encouragement, a smile, help you out if you fall. I have seen the staff yesterday, carry hesitant little ones over the ice in wonderful swirls, their faces lighting up in pure delight. It symbolises the full spirit of the season: quality time with your loved ones, a kindness to stranger, enjoying the moment.

And the music’s always good! I love the Somerset House’s Club Nights, with DJs really making you feel alive with vibrant music. There will even be a Jazz Skate session this Sunday in parallel with the London Jazz Festival. But if you’re not a night owl, don’t worry! For the first year, Skate at Somerset House will collaborate with Morning Gloryville to provide morning raves, starting at dawn: think music, free hugs, yoga, a motivational dance team and surprise DJ guests…

Then comes the reward time. There are lots of cafés to choose from at the Somerset House, of course, with the addition of the Skate Lounge overlooking the ice rink. Kids will enjoy dipping their gingerbread in a hot chocolate crowned super high with whipped cream, adults will sip on a mulled wine and a mince pie, or maybe a festive cocktail like the Hunter’s Tea (tea based drink that includes Jäger, orange juice, marmalade and maple syrup).

As last year, Fortnum & Mason is part of the Skate ay Somerset House party and the giant Christmas tree features their iconic hampers and baubles mirroring the rink. If you fancy starting on your Christmas shopping, do visit the nearby wing, beautifully turned into a Wonderland. There is glitter and sparkle, scents of orange and cinnamon in the air. Each room is themed – for him, for her, tea and coffee, confectionary. It’s simply impossible to leave empty handed, even the Christmas decorations are irresistible. And have you seen their Buck’s Fizz Marmelade with edible glitter? Shhh – the perfect conclusion, trust me, is to indulge in the Fondue & wine for two in their Ski Lodge…

 

More info about Skate at Somerset House here – open from Nov. 17 to Jan 15

 

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