This year saw an outdoor ice rink join the Manchester Christmas Markets for the first time. Based opposite the National Football Museum, close to Manchester Victoria Station, the Christmassy addition has been a hit and is complete with fairground rides, stalls and a bar.
For date night, my boyfriend and I decided to book a slot and join in the fun. We zipped up our coats, put on our gloves, grabbed our skates and made our way onto the ice.
As soon as we entered the rink, we heard Christmas songs playing and saw red and green lights flashing, which instantly made it feel like a winter wonderland. The ice was not as smooth as we expected, but this helped the blades grip onto it and actually looked quite a bit like snow. The organisers had clearly put a lot of thought an effort into making the square fit in with the markets, and have a magical appeal.
Priced at £7.50 for students, but more for adults, it is an affordable 45 minutes that will undoubtedly get skaters (and spectators) in a festive mood.
Whether you opt to edge your way along the perimeter firmly gripping the barrier, or zigzag your way around the rink, ice skating is an enjoyable experience. People of all ability levels can join in the fun and spend the duration of their slot trying to stay upright, all the while not taking themselves too seriously. There is no need to worry if you do fall though, because colleagues are always on hand ready to help skaters up and make sure they are okay.
Luckily, Andrew and I had a few close calls, but managed to stay on our feet. It helped that we tended to hold hands, as that meant we were supporting each other and not flailing our arms about and consequently losing balance. After about ten minutes, we both felt confident to whizz around on our own, and this made me especially proud (see below).
I would definitely recommend the outdoor ice rink to anyone wanting to add that extra something to their travels around the Manchester Christmas Markets, and also to anyone wanting to have a good laugh with their friends, family or partner – just remember to wrap up warm!
Note: The ice rink will be open until Sunday January 8.
Have you been to an outdoor ice rink? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!