Skating reaches a new high: rooftop ice rink opens in Rotterdam

Credit: Mei architects and planners
Image: Mei architects and planners

Dutch enthusiasm for ice skating reaches a new high today with the opening of an ice rink on the roof of the Bijenkorf department store in Rotterdam.

The installation on Rotterdam’s Coolsingel promises a ‘Swiss winter atmosphere’, and a ‘unique experience in the city especially for the festive season,’ Bijenkorf spokeswoman Claudia Kasteel, told Dutch News.

The rink itself is largely unaffected by the weather as it is not made of frozen water, but from self-lubricating polymers known as ‘glice’.

‘We chose glice because it’s more sustainable than ice,’ explained Kasteel. ‘It’s made of a synthetic material that looks, feels and slides like real ice, but it doesn’t use any energy or water.’

Three floors up, the rink and winter garden offer impressive views of the city as well as close encounters with the season’s low temperatures. ‘It is quite cold up there,’ admits Kasteel, but insists that this only adds to ‘the real wintry feeling’. A snack bar selling hot chocolate, soup and sausages helps keep visitors warm.

The glice rink is the latest in a series of innovative rooftop conversions in Rotterdam, showcased since 2015 in the annual Rotterdam Rooftop Days festival, which in 2023 will run from 1-4 June.

‘Everybody would like to have a Central Park in their city centre, with greenery and, for example, a skating rink,’ the festival’s director, Léon van Geest, told Dutch News.

‘Obviously that space is not there in most cities [at ground level], but we think that space is there in most cities on the rooftops. So this time we do not give the example by greening the rooftops, but by adding an ice-skating rink − just like Central Park − adding a really nice Christmas atmosphere to inner city life.’

The 12 square metre rink is open to the public from 12pm on Friday and will remain on the roof until 13 January 2023. Skating starts at 12:30pm each day and finishes between 19:00 and 21:00 depending on store closing times. Tickets cost €10 for 45 minutes.

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