REVIEW: Which Louisville skating rink should you go to during winter break?

Molly Gregory

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Ice skating is a popular pastime for students and their families during winter break, and there’s no question why– it’s an age-old winter tradition. Whether it’s the feeling of gliding on the ice you enjoy or if it’s watching your friends fall over that amuses you, ice skating is an indispensable part of winter. The Christmas music, the holiday spirit and the hot cocoa afterward all make for the perfect family experience, yet skating also provides an atmosphere in which high school students can have a good time and get some exercise.

The rinks

In Louisville, there are two indoor skating rinks: Alpine Ice Arena and Iceland Sports Complex. As of Nov. 27, Paristown’s outdoor rink is also open for business, but it closes on Jan. 5. Each rink has its own personality.

For example, Iceland, open year round, is host to most of Louisville’s hockey games. They are also the home rink of the Louisville Skating Academy, one of Louisville’s two figure skating clubs. The Louisville Skating Academy puts on “The Nutcracker on Ice” every year. For tickets to the show between Dec 21-22, click here.

Meanwhile, Alpine, open for the winter only, is less populated by hockey players and mostly markets towards public skaters. Alpine hosts the Louisville Figure Skating Club (LFSC). LFSC puts on seasonal shows, and their next show takes place on Feb. 8 for Valentine’s Day. Entry is free.

The Paristown rink doesn’t host a particular hockey team or figure skating club, but it does have lots of events of its own, like holiday movie showings and a laser light show. The Louisville Skating Academy is also doing a showing of  “The Nutcracker” at Paristown on Dec. 14. For tickets to that, click here.

Pricing

Alpine: At Alpine, the price for entry is $7 and skate rental is $3 for unlimited skating.

Iceland: Iceland’s price is also $7 for entry and $3 for skate rental for unlimited skating.

Paristown: For those without skates, Paristown charges $12 for a 60-minute skating session. For those with their own skates, they charge $9 for an hour.

Atmosphere

Alpine Ice Arena before a Louisville Figure Skating Club show. Photo by Molly Gregory.

Alpine
Pros: Alpine is not usually very populated, especially during weekdays. They have multiple party rooms and a few picnic tables in the front for guests enjoying concessions to sit and talk. They play non-stop Christmas radio during the holidays, which sets a cheery tone. There are windows all over the rink, so light comes in and reflects off the ice during the day, which makes for a beautiful, wintry picture.

Cons: The rink gets foggy after they run the Zamboni, sometimes, which can be off-putting at first, but you get used to it. It’s much dimmer in the rink during the night than in daytime, and they don’t usually turn on all of the fluorescent lights. They don’t run the Zamboni very often, so the ice gets scuffed up and difficult to navigate after about two hours, depending on how many people are skating.

Iceland
Pros: Iceland is a very big rink. There’s two rinks and a large lobby full of seating. They also have multiple hockey rooms and a full cafe-style area for people to sit and eat their food or just relax. Iceland also plays music during public skate, but not always Christmas music. It’s a fun atmosphere nonetheless. It’s bright and lively in the rink, and it has white fluorescent lights lighting up the entire area. They Zamboni the ice every hour or so, which keeps it easy to navigate.

Cons: Lots of hockey players skate for fun at Iceland, so you have to watch out for them. They often fly past you going a mile a minute. There are no windows in the rink, just fluorescent lighting, but the lighting is very strong so it’s not much of an issue. Iceland gets very crowded on weekends, especially when hockey games and public skate are going on at the same time, during which upwards of 100 people might be there at one time.

Paristown

Pros: Paristown is very holiday-centric. The atmosphere is cheery and bright. The outdoor rink is located, as stated previously, right next to a cafe, providing an easy place for lunch or dinner. There’s a laser light show right next to the rink, which provides after-skate entertainment if you’re willing to pay a little more.
Cons: The Paristown rink is smaller than Alpine and Iceland, and admission is more expensive.

Snack booths

Alpine
Pros: Alpine serves all the basic snack booth necessities for a good price. Basically anything that comes to mind for an ice skating session, you’ll find there; they sell canned soda, hot drinks, popcorn, nachos and more. The staff members who work the booth are also very friendly and will be happy to serve you.
Cons: Though Alpine serves a plentiful selection of drinks, they don’t have quite the variety of food choices as Iceland does. They also only sell hot chocolate in one size, and it’s rather small.

Iceland
Pros: Iceland has many different food choices (including ice cream) since they host hockey games. Their drinks come in all different sizes and are served from a soda fountain.
Cons: Though they have many different choices, only some are ready at a given time. If you request a less popular item off the menu, the employee working the booth has to get it ready and warm it up, which will take longer.

Paristown
Pros: The Paristown rink is located right next to a cafe which serves as their concessions stand.
Cons: This will be more expensive than food at Alpine or Iceland.

Locations and hours

Alpine: 1825 Gardiner Ln, Louisville, KY 40205
Monday: 3 PM to 6 PM
Tuesday: 3 PM to 5 PM
Wednesday: 3 PM to 9 PM
Thursday: 3 PM to 5 PM
Friday: 3 PM to 12 AM
Saturday: 12 PM to 5 PM, 7 PM to 12 AM
Sunday: 1 PM to 2 PM
No holiday hours listed

Iceland: 1701 Ups Dr, Louisville, KY 40223
Normal hours vary, check website
Monday to Thursday: 11 AM to 2 PM
Friday: 11 AM to 4 PM, 7 PM to 10 PM
Saturdays: 6 PM to 10 PM
Sundays: 1 PM to 6 PM
Holiday hours
Christmas Eve: 11 AM to 4 PM
Christmas Day: CLOSED
New Years Eve: 11 AM to 4 PM, 6 PM to 9 PM
New Years Day: 11 AM to 4 PM, 6 PM to 9 PM

Paristown: 720 Brent Street
Normal hours
Monday to Thursday: 4 PM to 9 PM
Friday: 4 PM to 11 PM
Saturday: 12 PM to 11 PM
Sunday: 12 PM to 6 PM
Holiday hours
Christmas Eve: 12 PM to 6 PM
Christmas Day: 3 PM to 9 PM
New Years Eve: 12 PM to 9 PM
New Years Day: 12 PM to 6 PM

So which is best?

Really, it’s up to you and your personal taste. Alpine tends to have the calmest atmosphere, whereas Iceland is bustling with excitement. Paristown is only open for the holiday season, so if you’re looking for a festive experience, that’s the way to go.

If you are going out with your friends, go to Iceland–  it’s the most popular among teenagers. However, if you’re going out with family, go to Paristown or Alpine. The more affordable of those two is Alpine, but Paristown offers a more unique experience.

Always remember when you go skating that you don’t have to dress like you’re exploring the tundra, but do wear thick gloves and socks. Rental skates are no friend to exposed ankles, and the ice will sting your skin if you fall and touch a bare hand down. Also, don’t purposely mess up the ice. It puts others at danger, and experienced skaters will judge you.

With this advice in mind, go forth and skate! All three of these rinks are wonderful local businesses, and you will have a great time anywhere you go.

Happy skating!