This temporary ice rink in a historic New Town location, is one of the big attractions of Edinburgh's Christmas. The George Street ice rink was introduced to the Christmas festival in 2021 as an open air rink (read our review).
Dubbed "Liddl on Ice", after the German grocery chain who is sponsoring it, it returns to the west end of George Street, between Charlotte Square and Castle Street in 2022, between 26 November and 3rd January.
In 2022, the temporary ice rink is in the same George Street location, but has a different, more traditional configuration. The rink is open at the sides but completely covered on top, offering protection from the elements, although perhaps not quite the same unimpeded views down the street of the New Town setting.
Christmas Ice Rink 2022
Skating on the "Alpine" rink in 2021 was along a wavy, elevated track, with a double pedestrian bridge over the middle of the ice. Stalls and bars on a rink-side platform offered drinks and hot food for non-skaters to enjoy while watching the skaters travelling back and forth.
Where the Belgian, ice rink in 2021 had a pleasing, whimsical design, it was quite narrow. The 2022 covered ice rink has a wider, rectangular configuration with fenced-off islands down the middle of the rink, around which people skate. This allows for safer uni-directional skating as opposed to the two-way skating track which beginners found disconcerting in 2021.
The Lidl on Ice rink 2022 rink measures 65m (213 ft) by 15m (49ft) and, is more akin to the elliptical ice rink of yesteryear, around the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square.
The islands in the middle encourage people to skate in a circle, in the same direction, and make it impossible to cut across the ice. The wider, rectangular ice rink design moves the main viewing area from alongside each side of the rink (with the bridge over the top of it) to a seating area at the East side of the rink looking towards Charlotte Square. There is also a brightly lit carousel beside the seating area. The skate and changing area is at the west end of the rink as before.
Tickets (2022 prices)
Book online via Showcatcher. Time slots are for 40 minutes between 10am and 10pm, from 26 November to 3rd January 2022.
Prices vary depending on whether it's a peak (e.g. Saturday evening) or off-peak time (e.g. weekday afternoon). Edinburgh residents with an EH postcode get a discount.
There are special times for toddler and relaxed sessions.
£10-£16: (£9-£15 concession)
Resident (with EH postcode): £8-£12.80
Penguin skating aid: £5
Christmas Ice Rink 3.0
Edinburgh's Christmas festival has had an ice rink in previous years, originally Winter Wonderland in East Princes Garden and then an "elliptical" rink that circled the Melville monument in St Andrew Square.
The ice rink moved from Princes Street garden to make way for an enlarged Christmas Market.
The new location at St Andrew Square lasted til 2018. In March 2019, due to the environmental impact and damage to the trees in the garden caused by the weight of the rink, stalls, and crowds, the business body representing owners of the garden, Essential Edinburgh, decided not to renew its contract with Edinburgh's Winter Festivals organisers Underbelly.
After an absence of two years, the third iteration of the Edinburgh's Christmas ice rink was established at the west end of George Street in 2021. More of a track down the middle of the street than a rectangular "rink", it was very different from the elliptical rink of St Andrew Square. But like the previous rinks it made use of the iconic New Town setting, and as it was in the open air, it was less of a Covid-19 risk.
In 2022, with pandemic fears easing, a covered version of a re-configured ice rink was introduced. As with the St Andrew Square elliptical rink, the "Lidl On Ice" rink was established in partnership with local business association Essential Edinburgh.
Edinburgh also has a longtime, purpose-built ice skating rink, Murrayfield Ice Arena.