A winter must almost always free of charge for those who bring their own skates, Montreal skating rinks offer an affordable, easy to learn activity great for all sorts of occasions, from first dates to family gatherings. A therapeutic way to fight off seasonal blahs, ice skating in town can be a lot
of fun, especially if it's your first year in Montreal's chilly embrace.
And, knowing Montreal's wonky weather, remember to check skating rink conditions online before heading out. It's a mess out there? Consider this top Montreal indoor skating rink as an alternative.
Finally, if you don't own your own skates, you might consider buying a pair if winter plans involve heading out to rinks without equipment rental booths or if you intend on skating more than three times in a season. It can be a worthwhile investment. Here's a list of Montreal shops that sell skates at different price points.
Photo © Evelyn Reid
My favorite outdoor skating rink in Montreal, Parc La Fontaine's charm in the free skating department is the park's characteristically long meandering ice paths, a welcome alternative to going round and round in an oblong-shaped arena, a format which is ideal for a hockey game, but borderline oppressive for freestyle skating. A great skating rink for just about everyone, from families to friends looking for a way to get active to nature lovers on the hunt for a more authentic woodsy skating experience to couples looking for an affordable (and if you have your own skates, free!) activity.
Photo by Flickr user craigemorsels
Right on the Old Port, just below Old Montreal's picturesque de la Commune Street
, the Bonsecours Basin outdoor skating rink ranks high in flash and visual value and is a great place to bring a date, friends from out of town as well as the whole family provided you're ready to pay admission fees, not including ice skate rental fees. Not exactly the ideal skating locale for speed demons, the Bonsecours Basin is, however, a great spot for casual Sunday strollers and evening skaters. Music played daily. A five to ten minute walk from several Old Montreal hot spots, including Philemon and Velvet.
Photo courtesy of Parc Jean-Drapeau
Consisting of a long, 1.5 km skating path situated along the St. Lawrence River
, Parc Jean-Drapeau's outdoor skating offers the kind of view of the city that rivals that of the Old Port's Bonsecours Bassin, and for a fraction of the price, even free if you bring your own skates. A great choice for families and nature lovers who need a break from the city without actually leaving the city.
Photo by Flickr user Aschaf
One of Montreal's more recently refurbished outdoor skating rinks, the Beaver Lake (or Lac des Castors) outdoor skating destination atop Mont-Royal is a hit with locals. With a tendency to get really packed on weekends, it's a great spot to bring kids and the whole family. However, speed skaters risk disappointment with the lack of maneuvering possible on the popular rink during peak hours.
Jeanne-Mance Park, just across the street from Montreal's quasi-mountain, Mount Royal, is yet another coveted spot for outdoor skating in Montreal. The crowds are lesser than on top of the mountain at Beaver Lake
and it's a little easier to get to with public transportation. But no ice skate rental service is available on site, so do make sure you and yours are fully equipped.
Photo courtesy of the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation
Made possible by the Montreal Canadiens' Children's Foundation, the Verdun skating rink Bleu Blanc Rouge is one of the latest outdoor rinks in Montreal to be equipped with a refrigerated surface that allows for a longer skating season. Costing $1 million to build, the rink stays true to the National Hockey League's official rink size requirements -- 200 feet by 85 feet (61 metres by 26 metres) -- identical dimensions to those of the Bell Centre's rink, the arena host to Montreal Canadiens home games. Welcoming hockey players as well as free skaters, Verdun's Bleu Blanc Rouge is not only a sure bet in the winter, it's open year-round: the rink is adapted to suit roller hockey in warmer months.
Angrignon Park offers free and affordable activities to Montrealers year-round, including free access to an outdoor skating rink. Parc Angrignon is accessible by public transit, within walking distance from Agrignon Metro. No rental services are available at Parc Angrignon though, so bring your own skates!