Here's where to go ice skating outdoors in Vancouver and elsewhere

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      If you're looking for a seasonal public ice-skating experience but feel that it needs to be outdoors to be truly authentic, you have few options in the Lower Mainland.

      Vancouver has plenty of choices if you are satisfied with indoor skating (eight of them, in fact), but only one, at Robson Square, that features outdoor gliding, and even then it is hidden away below street-level.

      An outdoor alternative with a mountain view used to be offered by Tsawwassen Springs golf course in Delta during the holidays. Unfortunately, it shut down due to the pandemic in 2020 and will not be reopening this year, a spokesperson confirmed to the Straight by phone on December 2.

      That leaves two outdoor rinks in North Vancouver to round out the nearby open-air skate possibilities, one at the Shipyards and the other at the top of Grouse Mountain.

      (There is also the outdoor rink with great seasonal views at the Olympic Plaza in Whistler Village, if you are headed up that way, but Harrison Hot Spring's two-year-old outdoor Starlight Skating Rink will not open in 2021, according to a community-event website.)

      Here is some handy info and links for the three local rinks.

      Robson Square Ice Rink

      This free public outdoor rink, the only one in Vancouver, opened in 1982 and lasted for a decade before being shut down. It ws renovated and reopened just before the 2010 Winter Olympics, and it has opened every winter since (it opened today [December 2] at noon).

      Robson Square features live musical entertainment, a new indoor cafe and skate-rental area, and is open every holiday during the season, including Christmas Day and Boxing Day. (Helmets are available free of charge and are required for children 12 and under.)

      For COVID-19 precautions at the rink, go here. For skate-rental information and hours and anything else, go here.

      Grouse Mountain Skating Pond

      This mountaintop rink boasts unbeatable views and lots of snow, along with all the other seasonal attractions on offer (visitors must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.)

      This rink is free with mountain admission or a season pass, which include round-trip Skyride travel. Skate rentals are available. The mountain's Peak of Christmas event runs until January 3, and special family day passes are available, as well as a chance to meet Santa, some reindeer, and to take in a Light Walk.

      For more information, including hours of operation and current weather and snow conditions, go here.

      The Grouse Mountain skating pond.
      Grouse Mountain/Facebook

      The Shipyards Ice Plaza

      The City of North Vancouver's waterfront Shipyard Commons area is a covered outdoor splash park in warmer months and a 12,000-square-foot free public ice plaza (skate rentals available; helmets are free) during winter months.

      The views here are almost as great as those from Grouse Mountain, just closer, and a great inclusive attraction is that there are at least six local charitable organizations that will give a hand to those who might need help with skate-rental fees (phone numbers available at the following link).

      For hours, rink rules, and other info, go here.

      The City of North Vancouver's Shipyard Commons skate plaza.
      The Shipyards