It was a somewhat frosty evening in the capital when I set out to experience the winter wonderland currently installed in the heart of the city.
Having chosen to attend the 7:00 pm Saturday evening session, we were unsurprised to see that the rink was extremely busy with people of all ages.
We arrived early to catch a 15-minute performance of Stars on Ice at 6:45 pm, where around six or seven extremely talented skaters wowed the crowd with either duo or solo routines.
The partner routine was definitely a highlight, and the lifts drew a fair few gasps from the assembled crowd – audible even with masks on.
And while masks are only mandatory while in the boot-fitting marquee, most attendees seemed pretty happy to just leave them on the whole time (ourselves included). After all, it was another layer of defence against the evening’s nippy temperatures.
Once on the ice, skaters tended to dutifully follow the anti-clockwise direction we’d been given to reduce the risk of collisions, and to make it easier for those of us who took a couple of laps of clutching the side railing before warming up.
It was a very busy rink and so this did mean that getting up to a good speed was made difficult, but it had the unexpected bonus of making it almost impossible to trip over. The ice was also a little chopped up and bumpy, but this was only to be expected given we had picked one of the last sessions of the day.
Instead of gliding, I think my movements on the ice can really only be described as a somewhat unglamorous shuffle. However, I can proudly attest that I did not fall over once.
A couple of skaters who were on the ice for the previous session were obviously undeterred by the cold as they attempted countless tricks, which saw them end up on the ground multiple times.
One of them was also wearing shorts. Whether that was brave or silly is for you to decide.
“Snow” falling on the rink was definitely a highlight, and while we were too cold to stay on the rink for the entirety of our session, we lasted a respectable 40 minutes.
Parents and spectators had no shortage of delicious food and drink to warm their hands while they watched on, with food trucks and a bar providing all the necessary goods.
Designed to provide a ‘wintervention’ and encourage Canberrans to get out and about despite the cold, the ice rink, markets and demonstrations in Civic Square are as popular as ever, perhaps more so as locals are unable to travel interstate.
A spokesperson for the City Renewal Authority said the first week of Wintervention recorded a strong turnout, with over 4500 tickets sold for the ice-skating, putting attendance on par with 2019.
“Wintervention is a fantastic way for people to get out into the open air and experience our city over the colder months in a COVID-safe way this school holidays.
“COVID has had a significant impact on the city’s foot traffic, which in turn has impacted local businesses and our community. These events make our public spaces more interesting and help bring people back into the city,” the spokesperson said.
The ice rink is open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm from Sunday to Thursday, and until 9:00 pm on Friday and Saturday with live music providing a sonic backdrop to the experience, too. Over the last weekend, performances from Stars on Ice and an Ice Hockey demonstration will delight both skaters and spectators.
Wintervention runs until 8:00 pm on Sunday, 11 July. Visit Wintervention to book your skating session.