Ice-skating at Christmas may conjure images of the rink alongside the Rockefeller Centre that features in so many Hollywood films. But Britain has its own iconic architecture, and you don't need to go so far afield to enjoy a turn on the ice this Christmas.
Natural History Museum London
The rink set up at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, one of London's monumental gems, is rated among the best in the city. Not only does it enjoy the backdrop of the museum's wonderful Victorian façade, but also has a Christmas market alongside. If you're with the children, you can combine your winter sports fun with a trip to the museum itself - entrance is free - where they'll be delighted by the dinosaur skeletons, minerals, plants and animals on display. If you're alone or with your partner, though, why not pop into Harrods, which is just up the road.
Tower of London
Another monumental setting is the rink set under the towers and battlements of this spectacular Norman fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Safe under lock and key inside, with the Beefeaters guarding the entrance, are the kingdom's crown jewels.
Somerset House, London
The grand neoclassical building, erstwhile home of the General Register Office, has served as the backdrop for the filming of several movies, including The Duchess, with Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes, and Guy Ritchie's new Sherlock Holmes starring Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. Over the Christmas period, though, centre stage is taken by the ice rink that occupies the courtyard. There are activities including DJ sets and the Penguin Club, which offers special skating tuition for children up to age eight. If you're feeling cold, why not pop into the Tiffany Tuck Shop for some mulled wine?
In the heart of the Scottish capital, at the foot of the ancient fortress that dominates the skyline from its perch on a rocky outcrop, you can skate on one of the biggest open air ice rinks in Europe. Don't miss the view of the city from above, sparkling with Christmas lights. The Winter Wonderland includes festive fairground rides, a children's corner and a Bungy Snowdome.
Eden Project, Cornwall
Alongside the igloo-like greenhouses of the Eden Project, there's the chance not only to get in some outdoor skating and enjoy the winter landscape, you can also try your hand at 'curling', a kind of bowls on ice!
The ice rink at Winchester is located right alongside the city's eleventh century cathedral. The Ice Rink Cafe is offering special seasonal food, including warming soups and casseroles and sweet and savoury strudels. Wrap your hands around a glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate to take away the winter chill.
The Christmas activities in the Welsh capital centre around the ice rink. As well as taking a turn on the ice, you can enjoy a drink on the heated terrace or ride the Ferris wheel. There's a traditional carousel for children, and they can also meet Bjorn, a life-sized animated polar bear who is in attendance with his Inuit helper Ursula.
Throughout the year, York, with its historical monuments and gardens, is one of the most visited cities in England. At this time of year, though, the big attraction is the real ice rink where skaters glide around an illuminated oak tree against the spectacular backdrop of the thirteenth century Clifford's Tower, the Law Courts and the Castle Museum. If you don't fancy the ice, you can still enjoy a Christmas drink at the Ice Bar & Cafe.
Until January 3, 2010 you can go skating at Glasgow's elegant George Square under a stunning Christmas tree. In addition to the ice rink, there's a complete free entertainment programme with activities for all the family, ranging from film nights to live music, theatre and carol singing.
Not far from the bustling heart of Manchester, the aptly-named Spinningfields outdoor ice rink is the perfect place to take a turn on the ice. The North Pole Bar offers a variety of hot cocktails including the spiced Winter Crumble, made with vodka and caramelised apple juice.
Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
On the banks of the Thames, around twenty kilometres from London, Hampton Court was a favourite residence of Henry VIII. Surrounded by gardens, it's hard to imagine a more romantic setting for showing off your skill at pirouettes and twirls.