As the temperature drops, ice skating in Beijing becomes a popular activity for people of all ages. Lakes in Beijing start to freeze and turn into natural outdoor ice rinks. They are usually open for visitors from late December or early January to early February, depending on the weather and ice conditions on the lakes.
One of the most famous spots is the Shichahai Skating Rink, which is composed of three parts—Qianhai (Front Lake), Houhai (Back Lake), and Xihai (West Lake). Qianhai would even open the night rink for tourists where you can enjoy skating at night with colorful lights.
At the Shichahai Skating Rink, you can have lots of fun not only being involved in traditional ice skating but also other amusing activities such as ice bicycle, ice slides, ice-castles for children, and others.
Kunming Lake covers three-quarters of the Summer Palace grounds. Kunming Lake Skate Rink is the largest one in Beijing that has an area of 70 hectares (about 170 acres). It usually opens later than other regions. There are other two main skating parts in the Summer Palace—one is at Suzhou Lake while the other is the ice slide at Xidi Wharf. All fun activities on ice are a great mix of exercise and amusement. Teenagers and children are the main visitors here. They can enjoy more than ten kinds of ice entertainment including electric iceboats and electric ice bicycle.
Lakes in parks also become popular skating rinks, such as Beihai Park Skating Rink and Taoranting Park Skating Rink. Primary activities are ice skating, ice chairs, and ice bicycles while Taoranting Park also offers a long ice slide. The opening dates for the outdoor rinks depend on the lake condition. For visitors' safety, they can only open when the ice is more than 15 cm thick. This usually occurs in late winter, namely January–February.
There are lots of other natural ice rinks across the city in places such as Zizhuyuan Park, Peking University, Yuyuantan Park, and Beijing Botanical Garden Ice Rink. Most of the lakes and ponds are available for skating as soon as the water freezes, but dates vary annually.