Skating in the sky, enchanted forests and a flurry of festive magic

The Crimbo fun just doesn’t stop in Manchester this year, does it? From the ever-expanding Christmas markets to outdoor dance floors and Christmas menus galore, we can’t get enough. 

Well, stick some sausage in a burger, smother it in Alpine cheese sauce and call it festive, we’ve got some more news for you. Manchester is hosting not one, not two, not even three, but four Christmas ice rinks this year. Each with their own exciting USP and each vying for your attention. 

With all this opportunity to get your skates on, which rink will you choose?

Ice Rink In The Sky At Escape To Frieght Island
The sky's the limit at Winter Island Image: Confidentials

Ice Rink in the Sky | Escape to Freight Island |12 November - TBC

You’ll be floating on clouds, walking on sunshine and skating in the sky at Escape to Freight Island this festive season. Not content with simply skating on the ground, the team over at Depot Mayfield have set their sights slightly higher for Christmas 2021. The sky, well, the mezzanine is the limit for this skating destination which is on the upper level at Escape to Freight Island with views of the entertainment on the stage below - like the Craig Charles funk and soul show or Huey Morgan and Twisted Tubes. Pre-order your lunch from the Winter Village downstairs and demonstrate a textbook triple axel before tucking into your hog roast sandwich with extra apple sauce. Tens, tens, tens across the board.

Ice Rink in the Sky is part of Depot Mayfield's Winter Island where you can find local artisans in markets stalls, plenty of festive activities like Christmas wreath workshops and breakfast with Santa himself.

Escape to Freight Island 11 Baring St, Manchester M1 2PZ

Skate Manchester Cathedral Gardens Manchester
When you're skating at 12pm but have to go round the markets at 12.45 Image: Skate Manchester

Skate Manchester | Cathedral Gardens |1 November - 3 January

Hot on the heels of Scare Skate which took place in the same spot over Halloween, Skate Manchester is the altogether less spooky version of ice skating at Cathedral Gardens. The ghosts and ghouls have been replaced with twinkling fairy lights and those funny penguin skate aids that supposedly stop you from falling over (don't forget to prebook them). Hey, it’s not quite skating in the air, but it’s good, freezing cold, family fun. And vicinity to the city centre markets means you can hop off the rink and have a mooch around the stalls afterwards too. And if you can't find the perfect Christmas present in our indie gift guide, you can even give the gift of skate with vouchers available to purchase online.

Cathedral Gardens Corporation St, Manchester M4 3BG

Snowstorm Show At Tinsel Town Ice Rink Trafford Centre3
Ice skating and circus gymnastics combine in SNOWSTORM Image: Trafford Centre Manchester

Tinsel Town Ice Rink | Trafford Centre | 13 November - 3 January

If you are quite simply looking to send your kids out onto 600 square metres of compacted ice at the “Winter Wonderland of the North” this Christmas, then Tinsel Town at Trafford Centre should definitely be on your list of festive stop-offs. Not only is it the biggest ice rink Manchester has to offer, but there’s a glittering ice skating show too - SNOWSTORM is 90 minutes of skating prowess and circus gymnastics that performs six days a week until 3 January. To put things into perspective, Old Trafford football pitch is a paltry 105m x 68m and only has a circus act on once every two weeks (boom boom). It seems that the Trafford Centre is going big on all fronts this Christmas with the UK’s longest toboggan slide and the world’s largest mobile bungee too. Blimey.

Tinsel Town Trafford Centre, Manchester, M17 8AA

Unreal Xmas Ice Rink In Manchester Trafford
A Christmas feast for all the senses at Unreal Xmas Image: Unreal Xmas

Unreal Xmas Enchanted Ice Skating Rink | Trafford Palazzo | 3 December - 3 January

An “immersive multi-dimensional experience” awaits at Trafford Palazzo in TraffordCity, which used to be Barton Square but isn’t part of The Trafford Centre anymore for some reason. Far from your bog-standard ice-rink, the Unreal Xmas Enchanted Ice Rink winds through a snow-covered forest where lights, sounds, colours and scents create a real challenge for all the senses. Once you’re done being an intrepid enchanted explorer, you can even shuffle on over to the skate-up bar for a themed drink which will probably be mulled wine, right?

Edit on 7 December: We have now been to this and you might want to read what we found when we went to Unreal Xmas.

Unreal Xmas Barton Square, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M17 8AS

Main image: Escape to Freight Island

Read next: Superbowl: 10 of the best soups in Manchester

Read again: The Whitworth to host a free weekend of festive fun

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