DTLA – One of the benefits of living in a chilly and snowy climate is pulling out your ice skates during the holiday season and going with friends or family to the local ice rink.
One of the benefits of Downtown Los Angeles during the holiday season is being able to visit not one but two local ice rinks, and to wear shorts while skating.
That is in play once again as a pair of outdoor ice rinks in the heart of Downtown are open. The Bai Holiday Ice Rink returned to Pershing Square on Nov. 15 and will remain up until Jan. 21. A second rink at Microsoft Square at L.A. Live debuted on Nov. 10 and runs through Jan. 6.
This marks the 21st year that an ice rink has been set up at Pershing Square. It measures 7,200 square feet, and is expected to welcome more than 54,000 skaters during its two-month run.
Robert Keith, the ice rink general manager for Willy Bietak Productions, which sets up and operates the rink, has been there since the rink debuted in 1988. He said that the ambiance of Downtown’s towering skyscrapers provides a unique experience compared to other ice rinks found in the Greater Los Angeles area.
“Families, students, kids, they love coming to this ice rink year after year. When the rink opens, that kicks off the holidays,” Keith said.
The ice rink is open every day, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. General admission is $9 and skate rental is $5 (lockers are available for $3). The skating is broken into hour-long sessions.
Through Dec. 15, the rink opens at 11:30 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends. It closes at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday-Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday-Saturday.
While the main draw is skating — or, for the many newbies, wobbling like crazy while clutching the side of the rink — the Pershing Square attraction also hosts a number of events. This year that includes Wicked Wednesdays, inspired by the Tony Award-winning musical Wicked, which is at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood from Nov. 28-Jan. 27. On those days, lights at the rink will be tinted green and every third song played will be from the Wicked soundtrack.
Additional options include a DJ Night every Thursdays from 7-9:30 p.m. (excluding Thanksgiving), and Silent Skate Parties on Nov. 28 and Dec. 19.
“Usually you come to the rink and the sound system is playing music, but when you do the silent skate party, you put on headphones and turn to one of three radio stations,” Keith said. “When you come to the rink, you don’t hear anything but blades and ice.”
Also, if you’re pining for the Winter Olympics, curling lessons from the Hollywood Curling Club will be offered on Dec. 15 and Jan. 12 from 8:30-9:30 a.m.
South Park’s Ice Palace
The L.A. Live rink is larger than the one in Pershing Square, measuring 10,400 square feet. What also differentiates the rink from its Financial District counterpart is the massive 65-foot Christmas tree in the center of the rink (but protected from skaters).
The attraction’s full title is the L.A. Kings Holiday Ice. Fittingly, it is named for the hockey team that just plays across the street in Staples Center.
Ryan Golden, vice president of events at L.A. Live, said that a number of restaurants at the sports and entertainment complex are offering deals tied to the skating. The “Supper & Skate” offerings include 20% off lunch and dinner at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill and a 15% discount for lunch and dinner at Katsuya for those with ice skating tickets.
“With all of the games going on at Staples Center with the Lakers, Clippers and Kings, and then the events at the theaters, which already naturally bring people down, this holiday ice rink will allow people to come, do something early and have some fun,” Golden said.
The rink opened two weeks earlier than in the past, Golden noted. Still, he said, the crowds have had no trouble adjusting.
“It’s been great,” Golden said. “The first weekend, we saw the same sort of traction of people coming out as we did during our normal run. I think people are excited to gear up and skate where they normally can’t.”
General admission is $20 and includes skate rental. Seniors, kids under 6, and military personnel with identification pay $15. Fast passes that allow visitors to skip lines are available for $40.
The L.A. Live rink lacks the roster of special events at Pershing Square. However, Golden said that Bailey, the lion mascot of the Los Angeles Kings, will show up sometimes and might be found skating alongside the visitors.
“He was there opening weekend,” Golden said. “I’m sure we’ll see him a few more times.”
The rink operates in three different two-hour sessions each day. Hours are 5 p.m.-midnight until Dec. 14. From Dec. 15 until closing day, it opens an hour earlier at 4 p.m.