The beginning of the Winter semester is the perfect time to participate in various winter activities around Montreal. After all, it is only fitting to take advantage of add/drop period to get outside. One of the easiest and most common ways to unwind on a cool afternoon is to lace up and go skating. Here are some of the most scenic and interesting locations around the city.
(17-minute bus ride from McGill)
In the winter, the large U-shaped lake in Parc LaFontaine freezes over to make an icy playground. Lush, tall trees surround the lake, which creates a serene and naturally picturesque environment. It is essential to dress warmly, which means mittens, toques, scarves, and warm socks. In this case, layering up is the safest bet, because it has the double effect of cushioning falls as well as protection from Montreal’s harsh cold. There is plenty of room on the ice to accommodate both beginners and skilled skaters. A couple of speakers are located around the ice, blasting a mix of instrumental and classical music. At night, the lake is partially lit up and can still be enjoyed. However, because the rink is outside and the ice is not maintained, it is important to be aware that the surface tends to be bumpy. Freshly fallen snow may pile up and hide the bumps on the surface of the rink. Nonetheless, this location is perfect for a large group of friends. The lake has no admission fee, but skates are $9 per rental. If the exercise proves too tiring or the cold becomes unmanageable, there is a nice restaurant located in the chalet right beside the lake that is the perfect place to refuel.
The Quays Skating Rink
(25-minute bus ride from McGill)
The Quays Skating Rink is located on the edge of the Saint- Lawrence River, and offers a great perspective of the city. There are light decorations all around the rink, which makes it a prime location for photo opportunities. Moreover, there are music-themed nights, such as Urban Sounds Wednesdays or Retro Fridays. A zamboni glides over the ice every few hours maintaining a significantly smoother rink than any other natural rinks. The oval rink has alternating directions to skate in, which changes every hour or so. While most people skate around the edge, the small space in the centre of the rink is great for those who really wish to show off their moves. This location is extremely safe, with skate patrol on duty at all times. Beginners can stay close to the rink barriers as they skate, or even rent pylons to hold onto. Located in Montreal’s Old Port, this rink emanates a romantic atmosphere with beautiful glistening lights surrounding the rink, not to mention the scenic nature of Old Port. Because the Old Port is a popular tourist attraction in Montreal, the rink is usually packed with people. Admission is $7.40 and skate rentals are $9.
Atrium le 1000
(12-minute walk from McGill)
If the weather is just a touch too cold, the Atrium le 1000 is a beautiful and warm indoor skating arena that is the perfect alternative. The rink is situated at le 1000 de la Gauchetière. While the structure of the building reflects Montreal’s postmodern architecture, the rink inside is just as impressive. A high ceiling with modern glass panels allows sunlight to stream into the large rink and give it a very open feel. A zamboni also regularly maintains the rink. Every few months, the Atrium hosts a themed night where there are door prizes and live performances. The Atrium is a very popular spot in Montreal; the family friendly location is generally more suitable for beginners. Because of this, the rink tends to have more regulations, such as no racing or hand-held devices. For all the foodies out there, a food court with 15 different restaurants surrounds the Atrium. The cost of admission to Atrium le 1000 is $7.50, with skate rentals costing $7. There is also the additional service of skate sharpening available for $7 as well.