The icy cousin of bowls, curling sees competitors slinging ‘stones’ (sculpted granite with handles on top) onto a target at the end of a long sheet of ice. It’s a game of precision and judgement and a safer option than heading onto the slopes. You can head to Sliders, and use one of their six curling lanes within their rooftop après-ski lodge-style set-up in Stratford. There’s live music, fantastic food and igloos for when things get too chilly. If East London is the wrong side of town for you then Queens, in Queensway, West London, offers a very similar experience.
London now offers a number of different skating options in some fairly spectacular locations. For those looking for a slice of history with their skates, the Tower of London, Hampton Court, Somerset House and the Natural History Museum all have ice rinks set up, with plenty of food stalls and bars close by for your annual mulled wine hit. For something a little more contemporary, Ice Rink Canary Wharf offers an option under cover thanks to its glass roof, meaning you can enjoy whatever the weather.
Skiing & snowboarding
Chel-Ski gives skiers and snowboarders the chance to hone their skills on their ‘slopes’. This indoor ski centre has what are essentially large treadmills, in which the speed and steepness can be adjusted according to the expertise of those on the slope at the time. For a full slope that’s in London (well, sort of), Sandown Ski Centre in Esher has an all-weather slope where you can ski casually or sign up for lessons.
Fans of ice hockey can head to the Lee Valley Ice Centre, home of the London Raiders and the Eastern Stars, while the beautiful Alexandra Palace hosts the Haringey Huskies, and the Streatham Redhawks represent South London. Most teams play across the different tiers of the English National Hockey League with tickets available for their fixtures. Those who want to get involved in playing are best advised to head to the English Ice Hockey Association to find their local club.
OK, so it’s not quite in London, but the Aldwych Speed Club offers everyone from beginners to experts the chance to improve their skills and fitness on their long and short tracks. While not specific to speed skating, the Lee Valley Ice Centre (mentioned above) hosts ice skating lessons, from classes for toddlers right up to private sessions.
The simple answer is anywhere with a hill once the snow has decided to fall enough to go out and enjoy it, rather than the usual brown sludge London gets. There are a number of parks and commons with fantastic hills that suddenly become ski slopes once covered in snow. Greenwich Park, Primrose Hill, Streatham Common, Brockwell Park and Hampstead Heath are probably the picks of the bunch.