Ice skating is one of those activities that you assume is limited to small towns with hometown hockey teams and their corresponding hockey rinks – but it turns out, there are plenty of places to ice skate right here in New York City. Soon after Thanksgiving, the city goes into full on holiday mode, and one of the perks (besides the famous Rockefeller Center tree, the holiday store window displays and the amazing Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall) is the plethora of ice skating rinks that open up around Manhattan. Some of the more popular rinks include Wollman Rink in Central Park, the rink at Bryant Park, and of course, the rink at Rockefeller Center, below the giant Christmas tree.
Says the Central Park website of Wollman: “ Skating on Wollman Rink is a winter tradition for New Yorkers and tourists alike – so many people have tied up their skates for the very first time on this very ice. Ice skating is a long-standing and beloved tradition here in Central Park – as old as the Park itself. The first part of Central Park to open to the public was the Lake, in 1858. That same winter, it filled with skaters. Soon after, skaters filled the 59th Street Pond as well. A century later, these water bodies closed to skaters. Wollman Rink opened in 1950, a 33,000-square-foot venue built with a gift from Kate Wollman. With its romantic backdrop, Wollman Rink puts visitors beneath the magical New York City skyline by day, and its twinkling lights by night. You can see why Wollman has been featured in films such as Love Story and Serendipity.”
Wollman is certainly one of the more famous rinks in the city, and for good reason, but the Bryant Park rink isn’t too shabby either. The Pond at Bryant Park, as this rink is called, is Manhattan’s only free place to skate. One of the city’s most treasured destinations, this rink spends the entirety of the holiday season twinkling with Christmas lights, encased by the beautiful Public Library. The Pond also boasts a Christmas tree around holiday time, and performances on the ice are a popular activity for families and visitors alike.
Last but certainly not least is the rink at Rockefeller Center – this too is a famous rink. The rink at Rockefeller Center typically opens Columbus Day weekend and stays open through early April. Ice skating at Rockefeller Center is a quintessential New York City winter experience. The Ice Skating Rink at Rockefeller Center first opened on Christmas Day in 1936. The Ice Skating Rink at Rockefeller Center can accommodate approximately 150 skaters at a time and the rink is 122 feet long and 59 feet wide.
While ice skating at Rockefeller Center is an experience that many New York City visitors desire, keep in mind that you’re paying a premium to be able to say you ice skated at Rockefeller Center — despite the small ice skating surface and the often crowded atmosphere.
Looking for a great place to stay while you visit New York for the holidays? The Mark Hotel is luxurious and comfortable, and is perfectly located just steps from Central Park’s Wollman rink and all the shopping and dining that the Upper East Side has to offer.