Christmas ideas (Part III): Ice skating in East London

Plus there will be a four-day artisan market to enjoy

London City Island, the capital’s newest cultural destination, will unveil City Island Ice Rink from December 12-22. There is no ice rink in Canary Wharf this year. It is “taking a break” according to its website. So, City Island Ice Rink will provide East London with festive, but affordable, Christmas skating fun. Alongside this, there will be a four-day artisan Christmas market (December 12-15), and a host of festive workshops, including pre-ice-skating dance warm-ups (led by English National Ballet), wreath-making, seasonal cocktail masterclasses, wine tasting and much, much more.

Here is a line-up of the events:

  • Open-air, 45-person ice skating rink takes residence for first time at London City Island (December 12-22)
  • Special skating sessions for children, aided by skating penguins
  • Four-day artisan Christmas market will kick-off the ice rink opening, with festive food, drink and gifting vendors (December12-15)
  • Festive musical performance by English National Ballet’s Sinfonietta Orchestra on December 12 (7-9pm)
  • Pre-skate workshop warm-ups with dance artists from English National Ballet
  • Array of festive workshops, including wreath-making, seasonal cocktail masterclasses and wine tasting
  • Festive Winter Wonderland sensory classes led by Gymboree for children
  • Opportunity to buy or pre-order Christmas trees 

On Thursday 12 December, London City Island, the Capital’s newest cultural destination, will unveil City Island Ice Rink, bringing Christmas magic to the recently opened Hopewell Square with its first open-air winter ice-skating rink, running from December 12 to 22. The open-air, 45-person ice skating rink will host 45-minute sessions and will be open into the evening, offering skating under the glistening lights of City Island. Parents and carers can relax while their little ones take to the ice supported by fun penguin skating aids.

Hopewell Square will capture the season’s spirit with a four-day artisan Christmas market, from 12-15 December. Festive tipis will showcase a sumptuous selection of locally sourced food, drink and gifts from some of the Capital’s finest vendors, and visitors will be able to purchase their Christmas trees (pre-ordered or taken away on the day). Food vendor highlights include festive street menus from island residents Central Market Group and Espresso Room, burgers, fry-up classics and Christmas bratwurst sausage from Original Fry Up Material, cheese selections from The Urban Cheese Maker and plenty of sweet treats. Drink vendor highlights include festive tastings hosted by Wanderlust Wine and Real Kombucha will be providing a selection on non-alcoholic brews and tastings. An exciting range of Christmas gifts will be available to purchase, including ethical chocolates by Tosier Chocolatemaker, hand-knitted children’s clothes by Milk and Black, luxury skin care items by Soapsmith and JoJi Natural, jewellery from Chalk Jewellery and Christmas bouquets and wreaths from Henrietta Hinkling.

City Island will also host a series of craft-led workshops and festive experiences between Thursday and Sunday, December 12-15. The iconic English National Ballet, which took up permanent residence there in September, will mark the opening of London’s newest ice rink with a Nutcracker-themed musical performance from the English National Ballet Sinfonietta Orchestra, as well as offering Nutcracker themed pre-ice-skating dance warm-ups during December, led by English National Ballet dance artists.

Additional Workshop programme highlights include:  

Thursday December 12

‘Wine Not’ hosted by Wanderlust Wine: Top tips and wine tastings to ensure you have a very Merry Christmas. Timings: 20.00-21.00. Cost: £20p/p (25 spaces)

Friday December 13

Festive wreath-making workshop with Henrietta Hickling: Learn how to create your very own Christmas wreath in this two-hour course. All materials and beautiful fresh foliage will be provided for you, and you get to take your creation home. Timings: 19.00-21.00. Cost: £25 p/p (25 spaces)

Saturday December 14

Gymboree Baby & Toddler Class – Festive Winter Wonderland class for children under five years old and babies. The class will be a sensory experience packed full of music, movement, singing and dancing. Timings: 10.30 – 11.30am. Cost: £8 for the first child, £3 for siblings. Adults go free. (12 spaces)

‘Shake Your Pom Poms’ hosted with Little Dots Loves – Learn how to make pom pom baubles for your Christmas tree. Timings: 15.30-16.30. Cost: £20 p/p (20 spaces)

‘Wine Not’ hosted by Wanderlust Wine: Educational and interactive France VS England wine tasting session focused on lesser known wines VS classics. Timings: 17.00 – 18.00. Cost: £20 p/p (25 spaces)

Christmas Day cocktail masterclass with Soul Shakers: Learn to make a selection of Christmas cocktails to see you through the festive day, from breakfast to the big lunch, through to your evening turkey sandwich. Timings: 19.00 -21.00. Cost: £35 p/p (40 spaces) 

Sunday December 15

Gymboree Baby & Toddler Class – Festive Winter Wonderland class for children under five years old and babies. The class will be a sensory experience packed full of music, movement, singing and dancing. Timings: 10.30 – 11.30am. Cost: £8 for the first child, £3 for siblings. Adults go free. (12 spaces)

Christmas Bauble Embroidery Workshop hosted by Wimperis Embroidery: Create your own 3” bauble for your tree, complete with washi taped embroidery hoop and red Christmas ribbon to hang it with. You will be taught four leaf stitches as well as the ever-popular French knots. The leafy Christmas design is subtle and sweet, and you can choose from Hope, Joy or Peace as the inner text. Timings: 14.00-16.00. Cost: £25 p/p (12 places)

Christmas Cracker Workshop with Make and Create E17: Plastic free, planet friendly workshop where you will be guided through making your very own crackers, made from recycled tissue, card and eco-friendly gift. Timings: 16.30-18.30. Cost: £25 p/p (15 spaces) 

Festive Social Art-working: Join this fun painting party where you’ll learn to paint on canvas with step by step direction from your teacher. At the end of the class you will have a beautiful festival painting to take home with you. It’s the ultimate form of relaxation. Timings: 19.00 – 21.15.  £25 p/p. (12 spaces)

Thursday December 19 

Nutcracker pre-ice skating dance warm up with English National Ballet, welcoming all levels and ages, guaranteed to warm you up before you hit the ice. Timings: 18.30-19.15. Cost: £15 p/p. Location: Mezzanine in ENB’s building at 41 Hopewell Square. (30 spaces)

(Please note all workshops may be subject to change and must be pre-booked)

City Island Ice Rink and workshops sessions are available now here. For 20% off tickets use code: EARLYBIRD20 – valid until November 19

To register your interest in the English National Ballet Sinfonietta Orchestra performance on the opening night, please visit here.

Key information 

Prices: Market entrance – free; ice skating tickets – £8pp (adults), £5.50 (children); workshops – £10-35pp (dependent on activity). 

Getting there: Tube – Canning Town station, on the Jubilee and DLR, is a three-minute walk to Hopewell Square; Buses – 115, 309, 5 all go to Canning Town Station

London City Island will comprise 1,706 new homes set on an island of 12 acres, with independent artisan restaurants, shops, creative hubs and al fresco spaces. The development takes its inspiration from the area’s maritime heritage, with bold primary colours and making use of its waterside surroundings with river walkways. Additionally, all Island residents will become members of the City Island Arts Club, the island’s own private residents’ club which includes a striking red swimming pool of bright, seafaring red tiles – the trademark hue which appears throughout the island. For sales enquiries please call 0203 944 9346.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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