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!
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-up rink in Amsterdam's Museumplein, which offers a unique skating experience. You can skate with the picturesque Rijksmuseum in the background and watch others having fun in the wonderful atmosphere. This year in 2019, the ICE*Amsterdam is held between 16 November 2019 and 2 February 2020. Tickets are available here.
Enjoy Dutch and other international dishes in the Brasserie, close to the rink.
ICE*Amsterdam is packed with activities that can be enjoyed as a group, family or a couple; such as curling, sledge slaloms and human ice bowling. You can also play ice hockey with your family and friends. Teams are formed by registering a minimum of 12 players and you need to be over 8 years old to participate. Or what about ice sculpting? You can try something creative with ice and learn some amazing tricks in the workshops. You need to be a group of at least 10 people. Alternatively, sign your kids up for the youth skating courses with Duosport.
The Ijsbaan Winterplaza is set to provide a beautiful ice rink on the Rembrandtplein, replete with ice skates, mulled wine, colorful lights and winter delicacies from mid November 2019 through to early January 2020. On the first day, the rink will be officially opened with a performance from figure skaters. The Ice Queen also leaves her castle to entertain visitors at Rembrandtplein. Parties are also welcome.
If you are living in Amsterdam, bring along your ID card or passport for a 50% discount on Mondays and Tuesdays.
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.
The Gelderlandplein, in the south of Amsterdam, has a small family-friendly pop-up rink in the Gelderland shopping centre. There are chairs and stability penguins for small children to push and, because it's indoors, it's nice and warm. You can buy coffee at the nearby Coffee Company. The rink is open from 9 October 2019 until 1 March 2020.
The Winter Village Stadshart Amstelveen, just south of the capital, has an ice rink for a month in the 2019 Winter, from early December 2019 through to early January 2020. Skating lessons and birthday party packages are available. The Stadshart shopping centre is turned into a charming winter village, complete with Christmas market chalets.
Once you are done skating, treat yourself with a hot cup of cocoa, some poffertjes and a thick pea soup. These typical Dutch treats are served close to the rinks and perfectly compliment the fun you had on ice!
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 2018-2019. The information is current as of the date of publication.
Moumita Bose is a freelance content writer and mother of a three-year-old child.
photo credit: Red Morley Hewitt on Unsplash