Any Natural Ice-Skating in Europe this Winter?
January 9, 2013 11:33 PM   Subscribe

I did some Ice-Skating on the frozen lakes in The Netherlands last February and it was a lot of fun and I was hoping to do it again this winter somewhere. Maybe Sweden, or Norway or somewhere in northern Europe where good ice is more likely. (Is the Elfstedentocht - 11 Cities likely to run this year?) Where are some good (and relatively certain) Natural Ice Skating spots in the Uk, Netherlands, Scandinavia region?

I live in London, so the UK would be neat but as far as I know there is only the Fens of East Anglia which used to freeze - but don't so much these days.

Is there a website with like an "Ice report" giving the likelyhood of Natural Ice in various regions?

Have you done any natural Ice-skating in Europe? If so where?
posted by mary8nne to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I doubt there'll be an elfstedentocht this year or much other natural ice skating in the Netherlands. It just hasn't been very cold.
posted by atrazine at 11:37 PM on January 9, 2013

I doubt there will be an Elfstedentocht this year. The Netherlands has had a warm winter so far and even with a very cold February last year, the Elfstedentocht was called off at the last minute. If it does happen, you need to register with the Koninklijke Vereniging De Friesche Elfsteden to participate. You can watch the @11stvereniging Twitter account for updates. If they start making noises about it being possible, then it's probably safe to skate in other areas (that's what happened last February, when it was even possible to skate on the canals in Amsterdam).
posted by neushoorn at 12:05 AM on January 10, 2013

Yeah. Not so terribly cold in Northern Europe this year - so far. You really need an extended period of -10C and even here in Stockholm - despite tons of snow - we haven't had any really cold weather.

In Sweden, pretty much all of the ice-skating is on natural ice. The best place to go skating is with långfärdskidskor in the Stockholm archipelago.

The längfärdskridskor have long blades and free heels which are perfect for skating long distances on the brackish water ice that forms in the archipelago. A small amount of salt makes ice flexible which means you can skate on thinner ice - the thin ice being at the edge of open water which is the most newly formed, smoothest, and fastest ice you can imagine. Calling it glass smooth does not do it justice.

It's a bit dangerous so you must go in a group and have some rudimentary safety equipment (hand spikes around the neck, safety line, thickness probe, and a dry pack with warm clothing inside.) But salt water ice cracks slowly and you are softly deposited into the water - not dropped - and your clothes and dry bag provide more than enough bouyancy to keep you afloat. A quick change of clothes once your mates haul you out any you're good as new.

There are regular tours offered in the link which I provided above (in Swedish) but if you call the number or send an e-mail in English it will be no problem.

Or mefimail me and I'll be happy to point you in to more resources.
posted by three blind mice at 1:11 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

When it's really cold enough, two places in southern England that provide first rate natural ice skating are Port Meadow in Oxford and the Somerset Levels. When it ices over properly, you can skate for miles between towns on the Somerset Levels. But I think now we're really talking once in a generation cold weather to get the ice safely thick enough.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:16 AM on January 10, 2013

I don't think it'll be cold enough for it this year, but when it is, the Loosdrechtse Plassen near Utrecht is great.
posted by tsh at 2:25 AM on January 10, 2013

Response by poster: Last February (2012) I was living in Nijmegen and we did a lot of Skating for that week of very cold weather. (the week that the Elfstedentocht was almost run - I was following it closely at the time).

I"m not interested in participating in the Elfstedentocht - I"m a very beginner Ice-Skater. But I did enjoy it last year and was thinking that perhaps there would be somewhere further north that is more consistently Ice Skatable.

I'll look into the Stockholm Archipelago - that does look interesting. But I was hoping for something less organised / less expensive.
posted by mary8nne at 2:42 AM on January 10, 2013

Last winter was quite cold ... I even managed to go skating on the canals inside Amsterdam ... that's like a once in a decade thing.

This winter so far is warm ... Look to Sweden or Austria
posted by jannw at 8:16 AM on January 10, 2013

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