Snow is here and so is ice skating: Grab your skates and hit those natural ice rinks! Here’s all you need to know about natural ice skating in the Netherlands.

It is no surprise that the Dutch are big fans of their ice skating and the good news is, from the recent icy weather and snow we can all go for some natural ice skating just like a true Dutchie!

Where are the natural ice skating rinks in the Netherlands?

Natural ice skating occurs most years in shallow water, lakes and, sometimes, the canals freeze up as well. Some farmers even flood their fields in order to allow people to ice skate on them.

However, it’s not always safe to skate on your local lakes and this is why you need to keep tabs on where is safe to ice skate naturally in the Netherlands.

Sprint is the app where you can see exactly where you can skate on natural ice. This app is made possible by the KNSB: the authority in the field of natural ice in the Netherlands.

On this app, there are only natural ice skating rinks and tours that have been approved by the ice skaters of the KNSB. With Sprint you can see the natural ice skating rinks in your area and whether they are okay to go to (fingers crossed! 😉 ).

There are also several websites to guide you with natural ice skating news, weather, and information from around the country.

There is also the option of ice skating on the canals. The canals can freeze if temperatures stay -4 degrees celsius for four consecutive nights. The municipality will then give the green light if it is safe to ice skate on the canals.

Where can you buy ice skates in the Netherlands?

If you want to ice skate on natural ice, you need your pair of skates. It’s normally easy to find sports stores around, or Decathlon provides a range of them at reasonable prices.

If not, you can always go to your local indoor ice rink arena and rent a pair for a couple of hours.

Wait a minute: there’s a pandemic going on! Buying ice skates is currently a bit harder than normal, but check online or second-hand websites too.

What to bring with you before going ice skating in the Netherlands

Natural ice skating has its perks but being prepared before hitting those rinks is always a plus. Here are some things you should not forget before your ice-skating moves.

Warm clothes

A no brainer, but those warm clothes and extra layers can help. A thermal shirt will undoubtedly keep you warm, but also thick socks (or extra socks), gloves, a scarf, and a beanie will assure you won’t catch a cold. In case of extreme freezing cases, use windproof clothing, a ski mask, ski goggles and petroleum jelly on your face.

Snacks

All that ice skating will get you hungry and thirsty, so make sure you pack plenty of food and drinks. Think sandwiches, a thermos for hot beverages such as coffee or hot cocoa. It is also smart to bring a towel or a blanket to have your hot cocoa on.

READ MORE | Koek & zopie? Let’s talk Dutch ice skating food — the fail edition

First aid kit and protection

If you are a clumsy one, like me, make sure to bring some patches of bandage for you and perhaps for others in the ice skating rink. Better watch out for those not so smooth ice rinks!

Plus, knee protectors, wrist guards and most importantly a helmet can go a long way. True, it is not so Dutch to have a helmet on, but safety first if you are new to the natural ice skating rinks.

5 of the best man-made ice skating rinks in the Netherlands

photo-of-girl-ice-skating-at-dam-square-amsterdam-rink
A girl skates in the Dam Square ice skating rink in Amsterdam. Image: Irena Carpaccio/Pexels

If you’re not a big fan of ice skating on the raw natural ice of the Dutch lakes or canals, you can also visit the indoor or outdoor man-made ice skating rinks to have added some fun in your time.

Let op! These ice skating rinks may be currently closed due to coronavirus.

1. Jaap Eden: Jaap Eden was a famous Dutch athlete, and he was admired for his speed skating skills. The rink is named after him. It covers 400 meters of ice making it the biggest arena in Amsterdam. If you are keen on learning skating, Jaap Eden offers ice skating lessons as well.

2. Ice* Amsterdam: Open till the start of February each year, this ice skating rink in the Museumplein is a great place to meet up with friends and family and enjoy an excellent ice experience.

3. Schaatshaal Leiden: an ice skating rink in the cosy city of Leiden. There is an inner track and an outer track of about 220 meters. This rink also provides ice skating lessons and hot cocoa! ☕️.

4. Ijsbaan Haarlem: The ice rink in Haarlem is excellent for the new skater also for the diehards out there (respect). Open till late March.

5. Schaatsbaan Rotterdam: The ice rink in Rotterdam is one to put on your priority list! Many ice skating activities are possible for both youngsters and adults.

Dutch food to eat after ice skating

After a good ice skating session, the Dutchies traditionally like to enjoy a cup of hot beverages (mainly cocoa or coffee), poffertjes (those mini pancakes with melting butter and sugar on top). Some even grab a typical Dutch pea soup. These types of snacks are thankfully usually served around the many ice rinks.

The Elfstedentocht or the Eleven-Cities ice skating tour

If you sit with the Dutch crowd, you will hear all sort of stories of the Elfstedentocht. It is more of a historical ice skating event for them, perhaps because it rarely occurs. Journalists from all over the world traveled to Friesland to catch a glimpse of this race.

So, what is The Elfstedentocht exactly? The Elfstedentocht is a long-distance skating event, almost 200 kilometers long, which is held both as a speed skating competition and a leisure tour. All this happens on natural ice!

It takes place in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. The tour is held at most once a year, only when the natural ice along the entire course is at least 15 centimeters. Unfortunately, this race is a rare one. It has only been completed 15 times since its official start year of 1909. The last one to occur was in the year 1997. Efforts were also made for a race in 2012, but due to safety issues, the event was cancelled.

READ MORE | Why the Netherlands will never have an Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Tour) again

Check out those crowds! Image: Rob Bogaerts/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Have any favorite natural ice skating rinks in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments!

Feature Image: Robert Esser/Unsplash

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