Family Day

Best skating rinks across the country

Whether you're looking to play a game of pickup hockey or practise your figure eights, we've rounded up our favourite family-friendly rinks across Canada.

By Today's Parent

Best skating rinks across the country

Photo: iStockphoto

Best skating rinks across the country

Hit the ice

Grab the kids and lace up your skates because we've rounded up the greatest skating joints – inside and out – to make this winter a lot of fun.

A version of this article appeared in our January 2014 issue with the headline "All the best: Ice skating rinks," pp.77-80.

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: iStockphoto

YK: Canada Games Centre

November to April

The kids cannot utter the word “bored” with all the options offered at this sports complex in the city’s centre. There are drop-in and registered skating programs for every age, as well as special events. If you’ve got a family member who’s too small for skates, the Centre offers a child-minding service for kids ages two to five. There’s a child play area, aquatic centre and plenty of food options as well.

General admission, $4 to $7; family pass, $17; kids younger than two get in free. Memberships also available. Skates, $3.

Hamilton Blvd., Whitehorse. 867-668-8360

Get more information at canadagamescentre.whitehorse.ca 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: iStockphoto

BC: Robson Square

November 15 to February 28

This downtown rink in front of City Hall offers an outdoor skating experience, with the innovation of a glass roof. Strollers are welcome on the ice, and plastic walkers are available for wee ones just learning to skate. If the kids get too chilly, take them next door for a bonus cultural experience at the Vancouver Art Gallery (go to vanartgallery.bc.ca for admission rates). Evenings have a light show and sometimes live music. 

Free. Skates, $4.

800 Robson St., Vancouver. 604-646-3554

Get more information at robsonsquare.com 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: Inside Vancouver

BC-Grouse Mountain

November to April (weather permitting)

It’s a bit pricey for ice skating, but there’s a lot to experience on your way up to the 8,000-square-foot rink: To reach the pond, you ride up the side of the mountain in the Skyride tram, with views of the city and ocean beyond. The Peak Chalet offers lots of food options, from a quick cafeu0301 to fine dining. If the kids aren’t completely tired out, visit the wolf habitat at the base of the mountain.

Skating is free with Alpine Experience ticket, $14 to $40; family pass (two adults, two children), $106; kids younger than five get in free. Skates, $8; helmets, $3.

6400 Nancy Greene Way, Vancouver. 604-980-9311

Get more information at grousemountain.com 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: Grouse Mountain

AB: Lake Louise

December to April (weather permitting)

This isn’t your typical hockey rink – instead of battered boards and stadium seating, you’ll pirouette around the ice of Lake Louise with the Victoria glacier looming in the background. Staff from the nearby Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise set up a firepit and benches on shore, where there are also cubbies for stashing your boots. If you’re a hockey or broomball family, you can rent sticks and pucks in the hotel lobby and play a bit of shinny on an adjacent rink.

Skating is free with Banff National Park Pass, $5 to $10; kids younger than five get in free. Skates, $6 to $15; helmets, $6; hockey sticks, $5 to $8.

111 Lake Louise Dr., Lake Louise. 1-866-540-4413

Get more information at fairmont.com/lake-louise 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: Banff and Beyond

AB: West Edmonton Mall Ice Palace

Open year-round

Even if your kid’s birthday is in July, you can still head to North America’s biggest mall for an indoor skating party on this NHL-sized rink. When the novelty wears off, there’s lots more to keep the kids busy: Ride the indoor rollercoaster, splash around the water park, hit a round of minigolf, check out the sharks and penguins in the underground caverns, catch a movie, and then retire to the food court down the hall. (And maybe fit in a little shopping!)

General admission, $6 to $8; kids younger than three get in free. Admission to other attractions varies. Skates, $4; helmets, $2; sharpening, $4.

8882-170 St., Edmonton. 780-444-5300

Get more information at wem.ca 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: West Edmonton Mall

SK: Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink

December to March (weather permitting)

Next to the Saskatchewan River in downtown Saskatoon, you’ll find a rink that offers fantastic views of both the city and the water. Washrooms are available, and kids will enjoy the music and twinkling lights on the spruce trees at centre ice. There are no hockey sticks or pucks allowed, which makes for a relaxing family skating environment. 

Free. Skates free, donations welcomed; bring your own helmets.

PotashCorp Plaza, Kiwanis Memorial Park, Kiwanis 306-665-6887

Get more information at meewasin.com 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink

SK: Victoria Park

December 15 to March 31 (weather permitting)

Music is one of the highlights at Victoria Park: The Skate2Sask soundtrack features local talent, while live DJs host skate-dance parties throughout the winter. Families can also enjoy free hot chocolate in the warming hut, and a variety of themed events, including Family Fun Day. Borrow a pair of skates for free, and you’ll find friendly staff on hand to help tie them up. If you’ve got older kids, you can leave them to skate and take advantage of Snoga (snow yoga) sessions that happen as an occasional feature next to the rink.

Free. Skates, free; bring your own helmets.

Lorne St. and 12th Ave., Regina. 306-359-7541

Get more information at reginadowntown.ca 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: iStockphoto

MB: Arctic Glacier Winter Park at the Forks

November to March (weather permitting)

With a children’s museum, theatre and market, there’s lots to do at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. But in winter, it’s all about ice: Lace up your skates in one of five warming huts, then skate along the world’s longest naturally frozen trail (8.54 kilometres and holds the Guinness world record) or check out one of two covered rinks complete with lights and music. A recent addition is Snowman Lane, where kids can skate through a gauntlet of various-sized snowmen. Other winter fun includes a toboggan run and a snowboard park with ramps.

Free. Skates, $3 to $5; bring your own helmets.

123 Main St., Winnipeg. 888-942-6302

Get more information at theforks.com/winterpark 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: Arctic Glacier Winter Park at the Forks

MB: Manitoba Hydro Powersmart Waterfall of Lights Skating Oval

December to March (weather permitting)

This skating oval, near the Assiniboine River, will definitely light up any gray winter days: Kids will love skating through and around holiday- and winter-themed light displays, then huddling up in one of the warm-up shacks. Firepits are also available for keeping your fingers toasty or cooking up a wintry treat. The rink is unsupervised, but there’s music to keep you moving and washroom facilities available.

Free. Bring your own equipment.

McGregor Ave. W., Brandon. 204-729-2257

Get more information at brandon.ca 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: The Brandon Sun

ON: Rideau Canal Skateway

January to March (weather permitting)

It seems fitting that Canada is home to the world’s largest groomed outdoor ice surface – and that you can grab a Beaver Tail and hot chocolate from one of the vendors on the ice along the way. Heated chalets are available for putting on skates, which you can rent at one of three points along the canal. Staff trained in first aid and CPR patrol the ice seven days a week. During Winterlude (January 31 to February 17), check out the ice sculptures and play in Snowflake Kingdom, a frosty playground filled with slides and obstacle courses. 

Free. Skates, $9 to $12 (per hour); sleighs, $20; sharpening, $7; bring your own helmets.

Mackenzie King Bridge and Bronson Avenue, Ottawa. 613-239-5234

Get more information at ottawatourism.ca 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: National Capital Commision

ON: Storybook Gardens

December 7 to March 2

Visiting Storybook Gardens in the winter is a completely different experience: Skate the fully lit 250-metre trail through Storybook Valley, past the ever-popular Humpty Dumpty and the Old Woman’s Shoe from the classic nursery rhyme. Strollers and wheelchairs are permitted on the ice. Visit the cafeu0301 for a warming cup of hot chocolate. The animals on Old MacDonald’s farm can also be visited in winter. Check the website for free skating days.

General admission, $3 to $4; kids younger than two get in free. Skates, $6; bring your own helmet.

1958 Storybook Lane, London. 519-661-5770

Get more information at storybook.london.ca 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: iStockphoto

ON: TD Rink at the Brink

December 1 to February 28

You’ll get a frosty perspective of the famous water attraction while skating on the outdoor rink at the edge of Horseshoe Falls. One-on-one or group Learn to Skate programs are available. The ice can also be rented for birthday parties or other special events. During the CAA Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights, there are fireworks displays at night. There’s lots of parking and places to eat nearby. Check out the website for info on free skating days.

General admission, $8; kids younger than seven get in free with an adult. Skates, $6; helmets, free; sharpening, $6; locker, $1.

6651 Niagara Pkwy., Niagara Falls. 800-563-2557

Get more information at wfol.com 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: Winter Festival of Lights

ON: Nathan Philips Square

November 23 to March 16

Skating at this rink, in front of City Hall, is a popular winter tradition for many Toronto families. It’s got all the amenities of an arena rink: washrooms, change rooms, equipment rentals and coin lockers for holding your boots. Depending on the weather, you can grab a hot dog from a nearby street vendor, but the rink is also one block from the Eaton Centre, which has a newly renovated food court.

Free. Skates, $5 to $10 (two-hour rental, helmet included); sharpening, $5.

100 Queen St. W., Toronto. 416-203-2600

Get more information at nathanphillipssquareskaterentals.com 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: Benson Kua

QC: Bonsecours Basin

November 30 to March 9

Themed musical evenings and matinees, featuring every style (from classical to ’80s) are the draw at this open-air skating rink next to the Old Port. At night, the ice and surrounding buildings are lit with colour. There’s plenty of parking and places to eat in the area. (Bonus for teens- it also has a free wi-fi zone.)

General admission, $4 to $6; kids younger than six get in free. Skates, $8; helmets, $4; sharpening, $7; strollers, $6; other equipment available.

Rue de la Commune Ouest., Montreal. 514-496-7678

Get more information at oldportofmontreal.com 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: Vieux Port de Montre

NB: Officers' Square Skating Rink

December to February (weather permitting)

In the Historic Garrison District, you’ll find this outdoor rink bordered by trees with twinkling lights. For four weekends starting on January 24, the square becomes part of FROSTival, the city’s winter celebration: Enjoy the Old-Fashioned Skating Party  (January 25, 1 to 2 p.m.), which includes a live band and hot apple cider. Every Saturday during the festival, you can warm up from 5:30 to 7 p.m. with the Campfire Sing-Along. While there’s no equipment available to rent on-site, there’s an indoor change room and washrooms.

Free.

585 Queen St., Fredericton. 506-460-2129

Get more information at fredericton.ca 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: iStockphoto

NS: Emera Oval

December to March (weather permitting)

One of the best things about this accessible outdoor rink is the fact that helmets, skates and even sleds are free to borrow while you’re there. Once you’re equipped, you can sign up for a free Learn to Skate program. Wheelchairs are allowed on the outside lane, and there’s a spectator area so you can have a seat and enjoy a cup of coffee while the kids burn off some energy. Further amenities include a warming trailer, benches for changing your skates, and public washrooms.

Free.

5741 Cogswell St., Halifax. 902-490-2347

Get more information at skatehrm.ca 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: OptiMYZ

NFLD: Bannerman Park

Opening dates dependent on weather

Bannerman Park, in the heart of St. John’s, is currently undergoing a multi-million- dollar rejuvenation project that will see the creation of a new playground, splash pad, pavilion and Garden of Memories, as well as this brand-new ice skating trail that will turn into an in-line skating and cycling trail in summer. Washrooms are available.

Free. Bring your own equipment.

10 New Gower St., St. John’s. 709-576-2309

Get more information at bannermanpark.ca 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: iStockphoto

PEI: Founders' Hall

January to March (weather permitting)

The waterfront rink in the field outside “Canada’s Birthplace Pavillion” is a popular spot for skating families because of its size. While there are no washrooms or concessions available, the rink has benches around the edges, and it’s just a short walk from the downtown core with restaurants perfect for grabbing a bite to eat post-skate. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference, and as “The Birthplace of Canada,” Charlottetown will be hosting free family-friendly celebrations throughout the year.

Free. Bring your own equipment.

6 Prince St., Charlottetown. 902-368-1025

Get more information at city.charlottetown.pe.ca 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: iStockphoto

Nunavut: Arctic Winter Games Arena

Open year-round (skating rink converts to turf May to August)

The city offers several outdoor rinks in the city, but they’re unsupervised, so if you’ve got little ones who want to lace up, head to this arena, which also offers lots of other activities to keep kids busy. Skating is just one part of the Spring Break Camp for ages six to 12, which also includes crafts, baking and other sports. Three-month skating passes ($150 for a family pass) are available for those who plan to get their skate on regularly.

General admission, $2 to $5; family pass, $10; kids younger than six get in free. Skates, $2; bring your own helmets.

Niaqunnqusiaq and Abe Okpik, Iqaluit. 867-975-8544 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: iStockphoto

NWT: Multiplex Arena

Open year-round

Head to the Multiplex for plenty of space (there are two rinks), plus lots of special family- focused sessions, including a parent and tot skate for little ones who need time to practise, and a family skate session that doesn’t allow hockey sticks.

General admission, $4 to $6; family pass, $14; kids younger than two get in free. Bring your own equipment; helmets are mandatory.

41 Kam Lake Rd., Yellowknife. 867-669-3457

Get more information at yellowknife.ca 

Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: iStockphoto

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Best skating rinks across the countryPhoto: iStockphoto

This article was originally published on Dec 19, 2013
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