Given the sheer number of rinks in this city, it’s hard not to spot the trend: Torontonians love skating. Here are some of the sweet spots to get your Christmas glide on.
The Barbara Ann Scott Skate Trail officially opened this past weekend. Located in College Park, it is named after figure skater Barbara Ann Scott, the Olympic gold medalist who won the Lou Marsh Trophy three times as Canadian athlete of the year. It's a five-metre-wide trail that loops through the downtown park. The trail is used as a three-season walking loop.
Union Station’s Sir John A. McDonald Plaza on Front Street will be home to a FREE outdoor skating rink . Nearly half the size of an NHL ice rink, Union Holiday Skating Rink, which opens Nov. 29 and runs until Jan. 4, will also provide skating lessons, skate rentals and helmet rentals. After a spin on the ice, venture inside to catch some music performances inside Union’s historic West Wing. Free gift wrapping is also available Dec. 9-Dec 24.
The Bentway: The Gardiner gets a holiday makeover with a huge figure-eight rink underneath, launching on Dec. 20. Located in the heart of the city, the icy trail drew over 55,000 visitors last year. A pop-up shop serving hot chocolate and warm (alcoholic) drinks help keep your insides warm – and when your feet start aching from the threat of frostbite – warming stations will be littered along the trail for those in need of a break. A Polar Bear Skate where brave millennials (actually, it can be anyone) can skate clad in a bathing suit. Highly instagrammable.
Ontario Place: You’ll never notice the polymer “ice” that you can skate on is actually fake! So what’s the advantage? Even if spring comes early and every other Toronto rink has melted into a puddle, this one will still be perfect. The Boxcar Social restaurant sits rink side and might be the best party in town on a Saturday night with its outdoor DJ.
CF Shops At Don Mills Skating Oval: Squeeze in some skating time post holiday shopping at the Shops at Don Mills, a sweet oval rink surrounding a strange patch of artificial grass. Set in the middle of several shops, the rink feels like the epicentre of holiday cheer (with free parking too). The good news is they don’t stop serving gelato at a nearby shop – even in the winter! Live musicians will be performing on the ice every Friday night, beginning January 25.
And of course, there's the iconic Natrel outdoor rink at Harbourfront, right beside the Toronto harbour. It's probably the most scenic rink in the city, and is already open. It's been running now for 30 years and has a heated indoor change room with lockers and washrooms. The skating is free and the hours of operation are Sunday to Thursday, 9am – 10pm and Friday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
As for Toronto's 54 artificial skating rinks, the opening dates vary slightly by location. Most, however, are expected to open for the season on Saturday, Nov. 30.
The remaining rinks will open on Dec. 7.
Please check online here to find out when your local rink opens its doors.