Free Ice Skating Returns to Vancouver’s Robson Square

The Robson Square Ice Rink during the 2010 Olympics. Photo credit: Tim Shields | Flickr

The Robson Square Ice Rink during the 2010 Olympics. Photo credit: Tim Shields | Flickr

One of the best deals for holiday fun in Vancouver is back.

The Robson Square Ice Rink reopens for its 2014-2015 season on Dec. 1. Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the covered rink offers free iceskating and $4 skate rentals (If you don’t skate, you can also rent special ice cleats for just $2).

So just how good of a deal is that? Let’s compare Vancouver’s Robson Square with another world-famous inner city ice rink, New York’s Rockefeller Plaza.

Photo Credit: Michael Kwan | Flickr

Photo Credit: Michael Kwan | Flickr

While skating in Robson Square is free, adult rates at Rockefeller Plaza start at $27 (rising to $30 during the holidays). Kids get in for the “bargain” price of $15.  If you need skates, that will set you back another $12.  Granted, the scenery at Rockefeller Plaza may be a bit more iconic than in Vancouver’s Robson Square.  But you pay dearly for it: A family of four that rents skates is looking at shelling out $138 for a holiday skate at Rockefeller Plaza versus just $16 at Robson Square.

Not to mention, Robson Square – which hosted more than 80,000 skaters last year – is hardly a slouch in the atmosphere and entertainment department.

Holiday music pumps from the speakers as skaters of all skill levels circle the rink – some showing off fancy footwork and pirouettes, others hobbling along on those special walkers for ice-skating newbies.  The rink is covered overhead from inclement weather by a kind of geodesic dome but open along the sides, allowing the sights and sounds of the city to flood in. Coloured lights add to the enchanted feel, while vendors keep skaters warm with hot chocolate and other snacks.

Photo Credit: Province of British Columbia | Flickr

Photo Credit: Province of British Columbia | Flickr

Plus, there’s a full line-up of special events and live entertainment this year.  On Dec. 7, kids can get photos taken with Santa from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. prior to the Santa Claus Parade. On Dec. 13, the Salvation Army is holding a festive food drive with great music from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

And from Dec. 13-Dec. 24 the rink hosts the 12 Days of Christmas: Each day from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. a different live band will serenade skaters, from the jazzy Phat Santa Swings to the Christmas Celts and even local salsa sensation Rumba Calzada.

Photo credit: JWPhotowerks | Flickr

Photo credit: JWPhotowerks | Flickr

The Robson Square Ice Rink is open seven days a week from Dec. 1-Feb. 28 (even on Christmas and New Year’s Day). Hours of operation are 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday (except Christmas, when the rink closes at 5 p.m.) and 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

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