It is no wonder that Canada, with its accommodating winter climate, led the way in the development of outdoor public skating rinks – with Montreal having opened the first outdoor commercial rink in the mid-1800’s. Before that, frozen ponds and lakes provided us with the first natural rinks. Fast forward to today and many people can still be found skating for pleasure on frozen ponds and lakes – but for most folks living in our fair city, taking advantage of the many outdoor skating rinks offered closer to home is much preferable. And there are more than plenty to choose from!
Montreal’s boroughs and municipalities, from the East end of the Island to the Western tip, all offer plenty of outdoor skating rinks – some with an open skate area and others rinks with boards around them. You can actually check out the conditions of each of the Boroughs rinks by dialing 311 or going online to: http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page?_pageid=5977,94954214&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL
There are actually close to 275 outdoor skating rinks in Montreal, with some even being refrigerated – offering more consistent and reliable conditions. Here is just a partial list of some of the most popular and easily accessible ones:
– Accessible by car (parking fees apply) or public transit. Free skating near the area around the Chalet. Refrigerated rink.
– At the Beaver Lake Pavilion: Skate rental available for under $10 as well as lockers – use your own lock or rent one. There is also a café and some vending machines for snacks. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snow tubing also available on site.
– Easily accessible by public transit, right near the bottom of Mount Royal Park. Accessible by car, but finding parking in the area could be a bit of a challenge. Free skating.
– It is a recreational skating rink but also open to friendly hockey pick-up games.
– Bring your own skates as there are no rentals available. There is a chalet with bathrooms and an area to change into your skates.
OLYMPIC PARK *Opens only in Mid-January
– Easily accessible by public transit (Pie-IX Metro). Accessible by car but parking could cost you up to $20, there is free parking on the street, but it could be a long walk to the rink. Free skating.
– Restaurant and food stand on site. Bring your own skates.
OLD PORT SKATING RINK (Bonsecours Basin)
– Accessible by public transit (Champ-des-Mars / Place-d’Armes metro) Parking available with 25% Discount for Skating Rink clients – For Clock Tower Quay only.
– Admission: Adults, seniors and teens $6.95, Kids 6 to 12 $4.60, Kids under 6 Free, *Families $18 for 2 adults + 2 children/teen OR 1 adult + 3 children/teen There is a season pass or group rates available.
– Bistro Bonsecours on site. There are lockers available. Padlock rental $4.35 / Skate rental $10.45 and other services like skate sharpening and helmet rental – at a cost.
PARC LA FONTAINE *Tree Lined Paths
– Accessible by public transit and by car, but finding parking in the area could be a bit of a challenge. Free skating. The park has long, tree-lined ice paths as well as two standard boarded rinks.
– Equipment and locker rentals, bathrooms on site.
PARC JEAN-DRAPEAU *Forest-lined ice paths & open for a short period during January and February
– Accessible by public transit (Jean-Drapeau metro) and by car (via the Jacques-Cartier or Concorde Bridges) Parking available for up to $10 ($20 during the Fête des neiges).
– There are lockers, but they are outdoors. Skaters have to change skates outdoors. Sounds bleak, but nature lovers rate the experience highly.
It is always advised to confirm what services are available at the skating rinks and around them before heading out and to check if there are any changes due to weather conditions. Otherwise, tighten your laces properly, bundle up… and have fun!