Lace up your skates: It’s ice skating season

by Amie LaSalvia Contributing writer

Winter is approaching quickly, and it is truly one of the most beautiful and magical times of the year. All around Germany, Christmas markets begin to open and ice rinks are set up. Exploring the markets and going ice skating is a budget-friendly way to spend an afternoon or evening with family and friends. What could be better than gliding around the ice with loved ones while listening to Christmas music and enjoying the holiday atmosphere? Here are some of the best places to go ice skating this season:

“Gnomes’ Winter Fairytale” – Cologne

Open through Jan. 6, 2016 (closed on Dec. 24 and 25) 

As the temperatures begin to drop in Cologne, Germany, locals and visitors from all over begin to strap on their ice skates. Located in the old town of Cologne, about a 15-minute walk from the Cologne Cathedral, is where you can find the “Gnomes’ Winter Fairytale” ice rink. Once you put on your skates, the ice is all yours as you glide down the long straight runs or execute elegant turns and loops on the spacious ice. The skating rink itself is embedded in Cologne’s old town Christmas market which is one of the biggest, most attractive Christmas markets in Germany. This fairy tale experience is perfect for the whole family and is one not be missed.

Opening times: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Sunday

Prices: €3 for children and teens up to 15 years old; €4 for adults, 16 and older

Skate rental: €3

Kaiserslautern on Ice 

Open through Feb. 14, 2016

If you are not a fan of ice skating outside in the winter and are looking for something fun to do that is closer to home, Kaiserslautern on Ice is the place to go, located in the event hall at the Gartenschau. This ice skating rink is always full of life, and there are many great shows that are held here. You can skate until your heart’s content and enjoy time with the whole family. There is a small bistro inside that offers great food and refreshments. Conveniently, right next door is Das Brauhaus, a nice restaurant to enjoy a meal and socialize after a few hours of gliding around on the ice.

Opening times: 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 3 p.m., 4 to 6 p.m., and 7 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday; 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 3 p.m., 4 to 6 p.m., and 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 9 a.m. to noon Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve; 1 to 3 p.m., and 4 to 6 p.m. Dec. 25, 26, and New Year’s Day

Prices: €2.50 for children and teens up 15 years old; €3.50 for adults, 16 and older; €2 for school classes and students

Skate rental: €3.50

Karlsplatz Heidelberg

Open through Jan. 10, 2016 (closed on Christmas Eve)

This ice rink is located in Karlsplatz, known to be one of the most beautiful settings in Germany. People of all ages come to skate on the open-air ice skating rink; the real-ice surface is overlooked by the Heidelberg Castle. If the adults don’t want to skate, the kids can have fun on the ice while parents relax and enjoy the atmosphere in the covered guest area. Once you have worked up an appetite, Karlsplatz has food and drink stands surrounding the rink, or you can take advantage of the Heidelberg Christmas Market taking place through Dec. 22, also perfect for buying small, beautiful gifts.

Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Sunday; noon to 10 p.m. Dec. 25 and 26; noon to 1 a.m. New Year’s Eve; noon to
10 p.m. New Year’s Day

Prices: (for 90 minutes) €4 for adults, €3 for children

Skate rental: €3

During the first 90 minutes after opening (10 to 11:30 a.m.), school classes and kindergarten groups may use the rink without charge.