As the days grow colder each July, I dream of experiencing a northern winter – where flakes of white snow float from the skies and land on my nose. I imagine wrapping my chilled hands around a warm mug of steaming hot cocoa and gracefully gliding on a nearby mirrored lake of ice. While not quite the Northern Hemisphere, that dream was brought to life when I attended the Skating At Festival in Brisbane.
I arrived in the city on the third morning of the festival, left Adelaide Street behind and made my way to the entrance of King George Square where signs led to the festival. Skating At Brisbane is an outdoor, pop-up ice skating rink located right in the middle of the City Square.
The rink emerged across the cold, grey paving bricks at the top end of the Square, where it will be a fixture for 3 weeks until 15 July 2018. The sun was out, as is often the case for a Queensland winter which made the day even more spectacular but reminded of where I was. This is not Austria. The sandstone pillars and World War 2 monuments of City Hall provide the backdrop to the ice-rink to take in some history while spinning around on your blades.
A Ticket Box is set up beside the rink. Once you are set to go, a white gazebo style tent beside the rink houses the multiple sizes of orange, single-bladed skates. Just wander up and trade in your shoes for a pair of skates and get ready to take to the ice. For those needing little more help to balance, blue kanga skating aids can be hired for an additional $10 to help keep you stay on your feet.
If you are still feeling unsteady, you can purchase a protection kit for $10 which includes a helmet, arm, knee and wrist pads.
It was reassuring to see a Skate Marshall patrolling the ice at all times and on the day of my visit showed a bit more skating skill and finesse on the ice than most of the visitors. A music soundtrack fills the air if you need even more encouragement to move and rows of lights hang over-head for night-time ambience.
The Run-way Ice Slide Ride For an extra bit of fun, a runway ice slide ride sits beside the ice-ring if you are game enough to jump on a tube (that looks like an inflated, oversized blue doughnut) and roll down the slope over a couple of gentle bumps. The Slide Ride costs $14 for one-hour unlimited ride ticket or $15 at the gate.
When all of that skating and watching others takes its toll on your appetite, food trucks line the path along the Square to offer some immediate sustenance. Slices of pizza, and light, fluffy doughnuts (my personal favourite at $3.00 each) are ready to answer the call. A bier garden and bench tables and seats is also set up.
What else? As a first time skater or even for the regulars, A First Aid tent is set up beside the rink just in case of an unexpected fall. Good to know that help was at hand if needed. Don't forget to grab a shot behind the selfie station before you leave to share with friends.
Tickets can be purchased online and a ticket box is also available onsite. Costs range from $10 for kids aged 3-7 years through to $88 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children.
Did I get hit of a northern winter experience I dreamed of? I sure did. Well, maybe without the snowflakes but it was fun just the same. If you can't make it to the snow this ski season, SkateAt Brisbane Festival may well be the next best thing.