We have just returned from our visit to Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink, which opened today and will be open until 17 January (extended from the initial 3 January end date). Except for Christmas Day, the rink will be open every day from 10am to 9pm. The last skate starts at 8pm. From 18 December, the hours will be extended to 9am to 9:45pm.
Pre-booking is required. Sessions last up to 45mins and guests are being asked to arrive at least 15mins early. Adults and teens pay £16, children £11.50. There are discounts for families. Food and drinks are available on location.
We prefer visiting during daytime. However, many guests choose to do their skating after dark, when the castle is covered in a stunning light show.
We were very pleasantly surprised to find the large (1,040 sqm) skating area almost empty, compared with our visit last year, when it was difficult to move around because of the crowds. The frozen surface is well-maintained, even, and fast. Different from some other ice rinks we have visited, most of the skaters are unambitious, many are just as clumsy as us. The majority of skaters were families with small kids. The wardens make sure no one is being too reckless.
London’s Most Beautiful Ice Rink
Is Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink London’s most beautiful ice rink? We know many people who would say so. For us, Somerset House might possibly be even more fabulous than Hampton Court, but it is close to impossible to compare the two. Both rinks are located in beautiful settings and offer a marvellous light show, but one rink goes with a castle and the other one does not. One rink is in the middle of town, the other one about the same distance from the City as Croydon or Dagenham.
Depending on where you live in London and as long as everything is running smoothly, it is possible that Hampton Court is easier to reach for you than Somerset House, just over 20mins from Vauxhall. This winter, we are unlucky, because there are construction works taking place. This means most of us have to take public transport to one of the main train stations like Waterloo, then change trains once. Most journeys will still be no more than one hour each way.
Should you have some time to spare before or after your scheduled skating session, then, rather than paying through your nose for Hampton Court Gardens, we would highly recommend Royal Bushy Park. It is only 5mins walk from the ice rink and it is completely free.
We do not know any other park in London where you can regularly see so many deer roaming around. In Richmond Park, for example, the deer population seems to spread thinly all over the large area, in Bushy Park you can usually always spot at least two dozen of them just west of the Diana Fountain. During our last visit we saw more than 60 of them gathered around the area, including several majestic sixteen-point-plus stags.
Looking for more fun things to do in London? Check out our posts about The Thames Rocket, The London Helicopter, Somerset House Ice Rink, and the Sherlock Holmes escape room experience. And why not have a look at our article about packrafting in Wales.