It’s winter in the Netherlands and that means skating! Permanent rinks, seasonal pop-ups and races on ice – there’s plenty to enjoy. Here is a compilation of our Mamas’ favourite spots for taking part in this quintessentially Dutch pastime. So get your skates on and join in! (This list has been updated for 2019.)
Ice Skating: A National Passion
The Netherlands, who bagged an impressive 20 medals for skating in the 2018 Winter Olympics, are unsurprisingly enthusiastic about the advent of winter and the opportunity to take to the ice.
The city of Amsterdam awaits news every winter of the ice on the Keizersgracht canal getting to 15cm thick. At this event, the Keizersrace takes place, a sprint on ice between the Leidsestraat and the Spiegelgracht. The last time this happened was in 2012 and crowds of Amsterdammers braved the harsh weather to cheer the skaters on.
Outside of Amsterdam, there is the famous Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Tour), an ice skating marathon and source of national pride. If the ice is thick enough, this event is held in Friesland where the participants skate along a natural ice course of 200 kilometres, covering 11 towns.
Where to Skate in Amsterdam
For local Amsterdammers, the best known winter skating attraction is ICE Amsterdam, a pop u rink in Museumplein. You can skate with the picturesque Rijksmuseum in the background and watch others having fun in the festive atmosphere. Tickets are available here.
ICE Amsterdam also offers curling, sledge slaloms, human ice bowling, and ice hockey! See website for details.
The Ijsbaan Rembrandtplein provides a beautiful ice rink on the famous Rembrandtplein, replete with ice skates,, mulled wine, colourful lights, and winter delicacies.
The Jaap Eden Ice Skating Rink, in the south-east of the city, is the largest skating centre in Amsterdam with an outdoor 400-meter rink, a beginner’s corner and an indoor rink. The rink is equipped with lockers, showers and restaurants. It is also home to the Amstel Tijgers hockey team. Please visit their website for instructions on how to arrange a time to skate.
The Gelderlandplein, in the south of Amsterdam, has a small, family-friendly pop-up rink inside the shopping centre. There are chairs and stability penguins for small children to push and, because it is indoors, it is also nice and warm.
The Winter Village Stadshart Amstelveen, just south of the capital, has an ice rink for a month, from early December until early January. Skating lessons and birthday arty packages are available. The Stadshart shopping centre is turned into a charming winter village, complete with Christmas market chalets.
The Figure Skating Amsterdam club is both an amateur and professional body that caters to all skill levels – for figure skating lessons from 3-4 years old all the way to 100! There are groups who skate just for fun and there are others who are at competition level and participate in international championships. There are plenty of opportunities and activities for everyone. As the club is very international, with both local and expat children and parents, the trainers speak Dutch, English, French, and Russian.
This article has been compiled from the recommendations of our members on the Amsterdam Mamas Facebook group and has been updated for winter 2022. The information is current as of the date of publication.
photo credit: photo banner image images © Koen Smilde, amsterdam&partners, all rights reserved.