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Join in the celebrations for the 10th year of winter fun at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink
Warm up to winter in style at one of the most beautiful and iconic settings in the Capital, the Natural History Museum Ice Rink is now open throughout the festive season. If there is one place in the city to kick start your festive spirit and to start counting down to winter, here it is. The ice rink is set in the foreground of the stunning Museum and will be open to skaters through till Sunday 4th January.
Want to win the chance to go to ice skating at the Natural History Museum for free? See the bottom of the blog for more info.
Many ski area’s aren't open till mid-December, so if you are as ski crazy as us and cannot wait another few weeks to satisfy that snow urge this is one activity that will delight your winter lust. Set in a winter wonderland, surrounded by nearly 80,000 twinkling fairy lights and a huge glittering 40 ft Christmas tree, beginners and advanced skaters alike can enjoy the 1,000 square meter rink. As we can’t enjoy the slopes just yet, we have spent the build up to ski season trying and testing all the exciting winter and ski themed activities you can do in London. We were lucky enough to visit this festive haven in its first week of opening, and what a wonderful evening out we had! From exiting the underground, you are dazzled by the exquisite fairy lights and then stunned by the extraordinary architecture of the Natural History Museum before you stop and take it the atmosphere of this beautiful setting. There is something very special about being able to ice skate outside in the middle of London on a winter’s evening.
It is the perfect activity for friends and family alike, all ages were out on the ice and if there is someone in your group that isn't ice-ready, they can stand around the outside and take photos or enjoy a mulled wine from the café bar.
The marketing girls looking festive at ice skating
Here’s what we had to say on our adventure on the ice:
Chloe: "Ice skating at the Natural History museum was a magical evening out that helped throw me in to the Christmas spirit. I was mesmerised by all the lights, the decadent Christmas tree, and music. I was also impressed that the ice wasn’t too overcrowded. Followed by a mulled wine and festive nibbles at the bar, this is certainly an experience I would recommend anyone to share with your friends and family."
Laura C: "A fantastic location just outside of the Natural History Museum, the setting couldn’t have been better. The ice rink was the perfect size, and the big Christmas tree in the middle added the perfect wintery touch. I had great fun skating around (and trying not to fall over), and it’s safe to say that I’m definitely feeling festive and in the Christmas spirit now."
Iglu Ski on ice & the view of the ice rink from the balcony at the cafe bar
Where? Natural History Museum. Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD. Nearest tube – South Kensington
When? Thursday 30 October 2014 – Sunday 4 January 2014. Check the website for daily session times. How? Online: http://www.nhmskating.com. In Person: at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink Box Office. Phone: 0844 847 1576 Extra sessions The Ice Rink will also be offering ‘SK8’ sessions where all can take to the ice for extended skating periods. On weekdays in November, the Ice Rink will hold special sessions for parents and toddlers, and for students who present their NUS card at the box office. Parents with pre-school children can enjoy special rate skating sessions with complimentary drinks for both adult and child in the cafe afterwards. Students will also benefit from an exclusive special rate and complimentary drink. Visit the website for more details on sessions and offers www.nhmskating.com
Celebrate the festive season at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink, London’s most spectacular winter attraction. Whether you’re a novice or an expert skater, it’s a wonderful day out with family, friends or someone special. This Christmas one lucky reader will win two tickets to London’s most enchanting ice rink for an unforgettable Christmas experience in the capital. To win – Head to Facebook to like and comment on the image telling us who you would take with you, or go to Twitter and retweet this tweet. Terms and Conditions: Promotion closes at 23:59 on 30 November 2014. Winners will be notified on 01 December 2014. The prize must be redeemed by 12 December 2014 and is non-transferable and has no cash alternative. There is one prize of two ice skating tickets at The Natural History Museum Ice Rink. Advance booking is essential, and prize is subject to availability. Blackout dates may apply. The winner will be the first entrant selected at random after the closing date. Over-18’s only. Promoter: IMG (UK) Ltd. By Krystelle
With our first 2 après ski guides now out of date AJ Johnson, Iglu's Director of Sales, and resident après ski Black-Belt, has updated our best après ski destinations for 2014/15. Après ski is now as important as the skiing for UK skiers and riders. Those hectic (or chilled) hours between 3.30pm and 6.00pm when you celebrate a day of great skiing with your mates while still in your ski gear and often still up on the slopes can make or break your trip. The level of après ski is the most common question we get about resorts and I happen to agree that it is an essential part of my ski experience. I may not want to party every afternoon, but when I do, I want very good music, cold beers and cheap shooters, plenty of room to dance, and the option of a sunny terrace. If it’s inclement weather then an indoor area with strong tables for dancing on with ski-boots and lots of alpine memorabilia and style will do. The resort Councils also realise the importance of après ski to the UK market and last year Alpe d’Huez warmly welcomed Folie Douce with their 4th Franchise to great success and the brand keeps going from strength to strength.
The highest party town in the Alps
For a long time VT has been considered the poor cousin of its neighbours in upmarket Méribel and super expensive Courchevel but recent years have seen a transformation into a more mid-range resort. There are still the cheap and tiny apartments available but now there is a 5 star Hotel, some top quality chalets, upmarket self-catered apartments and this year sees Club Med launch their newest village right in the centre of town. We’ll be there for an early season ski in December. It’s a great resort for early or late snow due to its height. The Folie Douce here is just above the town so everyone gets to do a short ski back down on wobbly legs. It’s smaller than the rest of the Folies as it was not built to purpose but a restaurant taken over. I think it has a charm which puts it among the finest après bars in the Tarentaise Vallée.
Down in town there are more bars than you can visit in a night and the après starts early. The Frog and Roast Beef is the highest pub in Europe and draws a UK crowd. The Saloon bar is the Seasonaires favourite and is the rowdiest and most fun bar on the strip if you can take the crowds. VT is also home to the largest nightclub in the Alps in Malaysia, it may be cavernous but it fills up late and rocks all night. The place to stay – The New Val Thorens Club Med Sensations is going to be brilliant.
24/7 Ibiza (budget) Party Town
This big resort in the Grand Rouses mountain range has long been a favourite with the young hip crowd and offers an amazingly long season due to the huge glacier. It has a direct link access to the legendary La Grave free-ride resort, the best Terrain Park in Europe, and summer skiing. There are 45 bars along the main drag and 8 night-clubs. That’s not much less than the entire Trois Vallées and more than Val d’Isére and Tignes added together. On the slopes there is the amazing and huge PANO BAR that gives the 4 Folie Douces a run for their money. The beats are a bit dancier and recognisable and the crowd a little less reserved. After your Pano après session there are a series of bars at the foot of the slopes worth visiting. Just a little warning, the last run in to the resort called the Valentin is a serious run. Download on the Jandri Gondola if you’ve over-cooked it on Jaeger-Bombs. This direct Gondola access means injured or non-skiing friends can join you for lunch and après every day. At the foot of the slopes I like the Umbrella bar. The giant Umbrella can be closed for really cold days and opened for the sunny ones.
Ski Hard, Party Harder
St Anton is still the best of Austria but it is perhaps too popular and the famous piste-side bars are uncomfortably jammed to overflowing with plastered Brits, Dutch and Germans. It has fantastic off-piste routes like the Valluga and brings a lot of the best skiers in the world to party. It also claims to have the oldest ski school in the world and this brings a constant flow of new skiers and boarders to the noisiest après ski bars in Austria. I love the place and I’ve had some of my best après ski moments in The Krazy Kangaruh. Directly across the piste from the KK the Mooserwirt starts the party with ‘The Final Countdown’ at 3pm and then cranks out loud Austro/German pop and gets the crowd into a table dancing frenzy. They probably make the strongest tables in the World in the Arlberg region! Just seeing the beer servers who carry up to 30 full size drinks on doubled up trays is worth the trip. Those guys are seriously strong. This is a bit off subject but for Lunch on the mountain you must visit the Hospiz Alm down in St Christoph. It is easily the best on-mountain restaurant in the Arlberg region and has well-priced daily specials. You are served by staff in traditional lederhosen and there’s a great slide down to the loos inside. I can also highly recommend the Heustadl for live music on the slopes. It’s in a perfect suntrap just before you get to the KK on the skiers left. Recommended Hotel in St. Anton: The Nassereinerhof Every Austrian resort provides good après ski bars and special mentions go out to the resorts of Saalbach, Sölden, and Soll. They all deserve a visit that you’ll never forget.
Posh But Fun
Let’s get the hard bit out of the way first, it’s expensive. The Swiss Franc is on a roll right now and until it gets back to reasonable levels against the £ your après sessions are going bite like a Nile crocodile. Do as seasonaires do and follow the happy hours around the village. No visit to Verbier is complete without a session or two in the Pub Mont Fort, but my favourite is the Farinet Bar — with its sliding roof that opens to let the steam out when the party gets too hot. It’s an experience to remember when they open the roof when it’s snowing and you’re dancing to a Swedish cover band that is leading the shot taking between songs. Why is it that the Swedes seem to have an impossibly good looking cover band in every decent resort in Europe? I suspect it’s because the band members are chasing the best snow, just like you and me. Recommended chalet hotel in Verbier: Chalet Hotel De Verbier.
Glamorous and expensive, and worth every penny
VD is IGLU’s number 1 resort for sales and for staff love. We can’t get enough of it. The skiing in the Espace Killy (the area linked with Tignes) offers more easily accessible variety than any other in Europe. It has a very long season because it catches the storms as they hit the end of the Tarentaise Valley at the border with Italy. But what really sets it apart is the number of high quality bars on-piste and off. The original Folie Douce has got its Mojo back after a couple of experimental years and now offers a great afternoon’s entertainment. The price of a large beer has stayed at 7€ which a few years ago seemed expensive but now matches up with most bars in the Alps. Kelly Starlight still leads the entertainment but has toned down the cabaret aspect in favour of more DJ inspired singing and dancing. There are countless bars in town like the Petit Danois (après drink deals and 2 pool tables), The Morris bar, The Underground (very French), Victors (241 cocktails), and Bar La Rosee (nice terrace) in La Daille. The 2 biggest nightclubs are the legendary original Dicks Tea Bar with a mainly UK crowd and Doudoune for a French crowd (and corresponding appalling music). I could name another 20 bars but the names don’t really matter. You will never be more than a few metres from a party in this premier resort of France. Recommended Chalet in Val d’Isére: Chalet Yeti - get in early as it’s sold out by November.
Cheap & Cheerful
Over the last few years the rise and rise of the € against £ has hurt our back pockets during the après ski hours, particularly in the UK customer dominated über-resorts of the Tarentaise Vallée. For this reason a lot of my friends have starting heading to Alpe d’Huez. In this resort the cost of a sérieux will only be around €4.50. You always pay over €6 and probably much higher in Val d’Isére or Méribel. There’s loads of bars here to try, but no pub crawl would be complete without visiting O’Sharkeys, Smithy's, The Crowded House, and of course you must try the slide at Freeride. If you want to stay up until the sun rises then you’ll be at the Igloo bar that gets crazier and crazier all the way until the 6am closing time. This resort is now the most fun in France, it’s just a damned shame it’s a bit ugly. The skiing here is up there with the best and the 16km La Sarenne black run of the back of Pic Blanc down to Vaujany is world class. Personally I prefer the thrills and spills of the un-pisted Itinerary route through the famous tunnel. Not for beginners! Recommended chalet in Alpe d'Huez: Chalet Friandise – a little beauty.
Upmarket 24/7 Party Town
Okay, it’s not cheap compared to other Austrian resorts but it’s still better value than the big resorts of France and Switzerland. The Trofana Alm stakes a claim for the best après ski bar in the world. It encompasses everything you’d expect from that title. Classic Tyrolean décor, cheesy sing-along songs with silly dances that get everyone involved. Fantastic service from immensely strong waiters, carrying trays of beer and shots for you to choose from are never more than a few minutes away from another visit. The Schatzi Bar offers the added bonus of traditional bar top dancing girls and more modern music. I’d also throw in a vote for the Kuhstall, that plays more English music and fills to the brim with the younger crowd, jumping in their boots to the latest hits.
Tax Free Party Haven
Livigno is a shopper's paradise as well as an après ski mecca. It has around 150 bars, which dwarfs any other ski resort in the world — I think Vail is second with 110. Livigno has belonged to numerous countries and empires over the centuries and now has a distinctly Austrian flavour to it. The Kuhstall, Mikey's Pub, Gulliver Pub, the Echo Pub, and for cocktails, Jpioca, are all recommended.
Here’s my top tip for Livigno and this one really will pay off. Right in the centre of the pedestrianised area of Livigno is a bar with a unique drawcard. The Baita Del Ghet offers every customer their 1st drink free. That’s every time you go there. Unsurprisingly it is extremely popular and worth heading to early. It has great food and it’s where the locals go with their families and dogs as well.
This resort has so many bars to offer, that there really isn’t much to say other than I bet you can’t visit them all. Recommended hotel in Livigno: Hotel Valeria. Italian resorts tend to be a bit more sophisticated and calmer during the après ski hours, but there are some pretty good traditionally loud and riotous gems to be found in the resorts of Cervinia and Selva.
Getting away and hitting the slopes on a big group ski holiday is a fantastic way for family and friends to get together. Here are our top 5 resorts that will keep any group of friends or family happy throughout their ski holiday.
If you love the choice of skiing and attractions of large French resorts, but seek for a more cost-effective alternative then look no further than Soldeu. The attractive Pyreneean resorts sits at the centre of the Grandvalira ski area with access to a fantastic 210 km of pistes, so there is enough variety to satisfy the most demanding skier. With large properties, numerous restaurants, shopping and bustling night life there is plenty to do off the slopes as well. Andorra is well known for its duty free status and drinks are not served in uniform measures but by the amount that you want. This all helps to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere on ski holidays in Soldeu.
Les Deux Alpes has an extensive ski terrain and is snowboard friendly, with one of the best freestyle parks in Europe. With an impressive snow record, the ski area peaks at a huge 3600m so is guaranteed snow throughout the season. This mixed ability ski domain lends itself to all levels of skiers and snowboarders alike with endless fun to be had both piste side as well as village side in the bars, restaurants and other sports facilities that this fun filled town has to offer.
Set in the beautiful Ziller Valley, Mayrhofen has long earned its place as one of the world's top ski and snowboard resorts. The ski area is large, varied and high. The terrain offers a good mix of cruisers and steeps and is well laid out for beginner skiers around the mid station of the Finkenberg. For advanced skiers there is the Harakiri piste, as well as some impressive off piste ski terrain. There are good quality and affordable accommodation options which makes Mayrhofen a top resort choice for families and large groups . Mayrhofen is famous for the legendary end of season blowout, Snowbombing and has some of the finest Austrian après bars to keep you entertained throughout your holiday.
Skiing in Tignes in so vast, it is great for all abilities. Joint with the just-as-amazing resort Val d’Isere, the 300km Espace Killy ski area is one of the most loved circuits in the world. Tignes is perfect for adult groups with the large selection of accommodations and après across the resort, and families will love this ski area with the fantastic beginner areas and excellent ski and snowboards schools. Children will love the activities in Tignes, with ice skating, bowling, swimming pool and Husky rides on offer. I have had amazing ski holidays in Tignes with both family and friends groups, and still consider it to be one of my favourite ski resorts.
There is no surprise that Sauze d’Oulx is a firm favourite amongst British skiers, with over 400km of pistes over the extensive Milky Way ski area there is excellent skiing available for all skiers. From the stunning tree lined runs of Sportina to the black runs of Mount Motta and Mount Sises. With long hours of sunshine you can ski all day long then party all night long in the lively town. Down in resort, Sauze d'Oulx's original village has retained its old world charm, while the newer part provides all you need for a fun-filled holiday. The transfers are short, the accommodation is good value and the food is delicious.
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