Winter is hiding. It’s out there somewhere. And it will eventually find us. Dreaming of camping does little to slow down its arrival. Regardless, we are grateful to have activities to do during the winter months in Ontario. And in being outdoors, we welcome winter with open arms. On our latest adventure we venture to Springbank Park and spend 90 minutes skating outdoors on the refrigerated skating path in Storybook Gardens. To skate outdoors in London is a real treat that we look forward to every year.
Ice Skate Blade Covers – TuffTerry’s – A&R Sports
With reinforced bottoms these offer protection from sharp blades while wicking away moisture to help keep skates rust free.
The Challenges of Skating Outdoors in London (Ontario)
To many people the concept of skating outdoors is not novel. If you’re surrounded by lakes (Hello Sudbury!) or even a massive canal (Howdy Ottawa!), you’re skating outdoors all season long. We’re not blessed with many bodies of water that allow us to skate outdoors in London and southwestern Ontario.
Sure, we’ve got massive great lakes flanking our region, but good luck skating on those. As the chart below describes, not once has Lake Huron frozen over in the last 50 years. And in some years, we saw as little as 12% of the surface frozen with ice!
In case you’re looking for real-time ice coverage data, you can view that as part of the NOAA Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis (GLSEA) imagery.
So when Storybook Gardens announced that their refrigerated skating path was open, we decided we’d get an early winter skate in!
Skating in Storybook Gardens
The process has certainly changed this year. You will need to register ahead of time and pick a 1 hour and 45 minute time slot to skate. You’ll also need to sign a health agreement for every person attending the park, but doing it ahead of time means it’s barely an inconvenience.
We chose to attend early on a Sunday, and to our surprise, the path was nearly empty half way through the session. This meant we could more freely skate and enjoy the path. Well, most of us. Our youngest took a serious spill and got a bloody nose, so his session ended early.
The cost of $3.00 per skater is very reasonable and by using their ticketing website you can reserve from the comfort of your own couch. To skate outdoors in London has never been easier to book!
Next, we’re planning on attending in the evening so we can enjoy the path lit by festive lights, and perhaps some hot chocolate.
Tips and Tricks to enjoy your visit
- Arrive early. We found a reasonable line-up of people when we got there exactly at opening time. We recommend arriving 10-15 minutes early to line up.
- Bring some good mitts or gloves. We love these so much that we featured them in an article on late season mountain biking. For the mitt lover, the Auclair Honeycomb glove is what you want. If you’re looking for affordable and functional gloves grab yourself a pair of the Auclair Pacer glove.
- Dress in layers. You may be chilly when you arrive, but that won’t last long. Our boys were quickly sweating as they skated around the path.
- Sharpen your skates. Don’t do like us and forget to sharpen the family’s skates beforehand.
- Get some skate guards. We recommend the modern version of what I grew up with as they are soft, soak up excess moisture and can be used to easily clean the blades. You can find the A&R Sports version of these skate guards for about $20 on Amazon.ca.