Bournemouth International Centre (the BIC) has hosted its own Cool Coast winter ice rink (previously called The Rock) for a number of years, transforming the usually formal Purbeck Hall into a shimmering festive skating wonderland.
You’ll catch your breath as you enter the hall (and no, that’s not from the cold as it’s surprisingly temperate!) The room is beautifully decorated with a decent-sized ice pad so authentic you could mistake it for a permanent facility (how about it, BHLive?!) There’s plenty of space to take a seat and get acclimatised, put on your skates and steady yourself to tackle this fun winter sport. If you arrive just before your allotted session you’ll take interest in the professional Zamboni ice machine, used to resurface and maintain the ice to a proper standard – giving you and your trademark triple salchow the very best chance of success.
Horses (penguins) for courses
You’ve got two and a half months to master the sport over the chilly winter months in this excellent, real-ice facility, complete with penguin and seal ride-on / push-along ‘skate mates’ available for less confident skaters to hire. You can purchase your skating tickets from the BIC or any other BHLive outlet for 90 minutes of ice time and spectators pay just 50p for full access to the viewing area and bar.
If you don’t have your own skates, the for-hire hockeys are smart and comfy and available in sizes from a child’s 10. If your little one has even tinier feet than this, skate hire can provide special “sledges,” which strap to the bottom of your child’s normal shoes so they can join in the fun too. Anyone over the age of 4 years of age can take to the ice and all under 12s MUST be accompanied ON the ice.
During the Christmas holidays, every weekend and over February half term, the Cool Coast rink is open from 11am, giving you ample opportunity to perfect that axel jump before the Purbeck Hall defrosts for another year. In term-time, the weekday sessions start at 4pm – ideal for burning off that last bit of energy after school! Why not kick-start your post-Christmas fitness regime here with a unique workout on one of the later ice sessions – the last one starts at a reasonable 7:15pm. If you’re celebrating a family occasion or throwing an office shindig why not enquire about special group rates for bookings of ten or more? Call the BIC direct on 01202 055561.
Selected nights see the return of the popular Fire on Ice DJ sessions hosted by Bournemouth’s local radio station. Head down on 17 December, 19 January and 14 February (literally the coolest Valentine’s date?) to enjoy a traditional skating disco with a selection of hits and requests played live and on-air too!
If you’re happier wrapping up warm and watching the rest of your party on the ice from the safety of the rink-side bar, make sure you sample the Alpine Terrace menu, which was a popular addition to Cool Coast’s catering last Christmas. Can we tempt you with a festive hot chocolate, perhaps a naughty apple and cinnamon swirl doughnut or a Christmas dinner-inspired warm bap filled with turkey, stuffing, cranberry and bacon?
Bournemouth has a proud history of ice skating; it was previously home to the Westover Ice Rink in the town centre (closed 1991) and Ice Trax at Tower Park in Poole (closed 1996). Although the town has been lacking in permanent skating facilities for the last two decades, the popularity of the BIC’s rink – and number of people still using their own skates here – proves there’s still a demand for the sport in Bournemouth. Whether you’re a former fan of the ice follies, perhaps still rocking your Bournemouth Stags ice hockey shirt or you’ve been tempted to try skating by stories from older family members, Cool Coast is certainly an inspired idea that’s inspiring a new generation of ice skaters here.
The 2017-18 Cool Coast ice rink opens on Friday 15 December 2017 and runs to Saturday 17 February 2018 so you’d better get your skates on!