When I knew I was going to New York City just before Christmas, I knew I had to go ice skating at The Rink at Rockefeller Center in front of the Christmas tree. But I didn’t think one time would be enough, so I thought – how cool would it be to go twice! That way, I can see it in the daytime and at nighttime! You have to reserve a time slot in advance for $20 to go ice skating +$2 for skate rental, and you get about an hour to skate which is regulated with a color-coded sticker system. I knew I would have to plan that part of the trip quickly to make sure I could get decent time slots. Even though I planned it over a month in advance, I ended up getting a late nighttime slot at 10:30pm which was nice because there were less children to make me nervous.
Daytime ice skating.
I have to admit that though I was a bit nervous about skating since it had been something like 25 years since the last time I went ice skating. I think I was about 8 or 9 years old when I first went to New York City with a youth group from church and we all went ice skating at night. Back then, you had to wait in line to go ice skating. I think we waited nearly 2 hours! So it’s so much better now reserving a time slot and showing up to skate for an hour instead of waiting.
The only other time I went ice skating was when I was around 12 years old in 6th grade. Every year at that school during the winter, they hosted what was called “Health and Fitness Day” or something to that effect in which you can choose one of three activities to do for a day – indoor swimming or ice skating; I forget the third choice. That was the second and last time that I had been ice skating. I was so excited to get to again and in New York City!
So now at 36 years old, as soon as I stepped onto the ice, I felt an instant rush of panic, but only for a few seconds. I knew the only way to get over it was just to skate and see what happens. If you fall, you fall. Do your best to be careful and not injure yourself too badly. I was a little shaky at first, but quickly got the hang of it. There were a few times I felt wobbly and one moment that I thought I might be going down. But I never fell! There were people falling all around me though. A woman about my age had fallen and took a few minutes to get up because it knocks the wind out of you when you hit your tailbone. One elderly man fell and hit his head on the ice and was taken away in a wheelchair by the blue coats with Santa’s help. He seemed fine by then, but it was a safety precaution. I left the ice just as they were clearing the rink for the Zamboni. I was proud of myself for not falling and having so much fun!
Skating with Santa.
Santa took a break from the North Pole and came skating at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree! He would help children trying to skate or people who were struggling or who had fallen. If you were a little shaky, Santa would skate a lap or two arm-in-arm with you. I did fine but I stopped to take a break for a second at the railing with my friend for a few photos. I stuck my leg up in the air like a Rockette and tried to hold it up there for a photo. Just as we were taking the photo, Santa skated up behind me totally surprising me and stuck his leg up there too. I was so caught off guard and trying not to laugh in the photo, but it was so funny!
Nighttime ice skating.
For my nighttime skate, we walked from our hotel in Times Square and showed up at 10:30 sharp. I was a little bit surprised to see the rink still full of people and that there were still people coming in when I left, but that’s the time slots are for. Around Christmastime, everyone wants to skate at The Rink! Once I had my skates on and made my way to the rink, I still had that moment of apprehension as I stepped my skate up onto the ice. But the moment I glided forward onto the ice this time, it felt more natural. I felt like I had already gotten a little better at it. I have to say, I did a lot better on my feet this time! It was a lot smoother and more graceful, and I enjoyed myself more. It was so beautiful in the cold, brisk night with the bright moon above, the twinkling lights of the Christmas trees, the colorful spotlights in the dim night air on the glimmering, white ice, and Christmas music sprinkled in with 80s, 90s, and 2000s jams. It was such a dreamy, magnanimous experience. I enjoyed myself so much, I was glowing inside. 10 out of 10. Can’t wait to do it again!
Photo credit to Alex Baranda.
They cleared the ice every 45 minutes or so to run the Zamboni and smooth the ice. Since I was having such a good time, I didn’t want to leave yet. So we waited for the Zamboni to pass over the rink, about 15 minutes, and the ice looked so beautiful as the color wheel cycled through the spotlights on the ice. It was such a nostalgic and whimsical experience, I didn’t want it to end! But I knew I had to come to an end soon so I left the ice before it was over. Always leave ‘em wanting more. I floated back to the hotel and packed my suitcase to take a train to Boston the next day. If you get to visit New York City around December, a few laps around the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is a must!
It’s hard to stand still and steady my phone in ice skates!