17 Dec Why Outdoor Rinks Are the Coolest Winter Spaces
Earlier this month 50 outdoor ice rinks opened in parks and public spaces across Toronto. These rinks are free to use and nearly everyone in the city lives within a walkable distance of a skating surface. With the holidays arriving, now is the perfect time to dust off the blades, join a game of shinny, or learn to skate for the very first time.
Public ice rinks serve as important outdoor gathering spaces in many winter cities, but Toronto’s rink system is among the best in North America. In fact, Toronto has more outdoor artificial ice surfaces than anywhere in the world, which means we can enjoy winter activities without the frigid weather.
Many community centres in Toronto offer winter amenities beyond skating. A rink-side campfire at Dufferin Grove provides a warm-up spot for skaters and spectators.Dufferin Grove is also home to the Zamboni Café which serves cheap eats by volunteers. The revenue generated by the canteen each winter is used to support other park programs throughout the year.
The City of Toronto has also introduced great programming to ensure the rinks are accessible to people of all ages and abilities – whether you’re wearing the latest pro models or renting skates from the community club. Every rink has designated time-slots for free skating (no sticks or pucks) and for age-specific shinny – from 8 and under to 18 and over. Many rinks also assign specific times for beginners, families, and women. Before you go, be sure to check the City’s website for program hours.
Like all great public spaces, outdoor rinks provide a welcoming space for communities to gather, socialize, play, and be physically active. There’s is plenty of ice to go around in Toronto, so grab some skates and join in on Canada’s best winter pastime.
Lace up your skates and embrace shinny in Toronto: Edward Keenan wrote about the rare opportunity that rinks provide for spontaneous, self-organized fun with strangers.
The top 25 outdoor skating rinks in Toronto by neighbourhood: Blog TO conveniently notes which amenities can be found at each skating rink, including indoor change rooms, skate rentals, lockers, and women’s shinny hours.