Even with our lower winter temperatures, Phoenix will never get “cold” as those who live north of us understand the term. In the Valley of the Sun, the temperature might dip below freezing once or twice and that’s about it.
For the rest of the country in the sub-zero grip of Old Man Winter, “freezing” would be a welcome improvement — a big reason more than 300,000 snowbirds temporarily relocate here each year, and a decent number choose to make it permanent.
Still, there are some perks to the extreme cold that would be nice to experience, such as freshly fallen snow, snow days off work and ice skating. No matter what, we won’t get the first two in the Valley — a move or visit to Flagstaff would be in order — but, surprisingly, we can ice skate.
Now, we do realize that the Valley offers several indoor ice rinks that operate year round — they’re a good way to cool off in the scorching summer, in fact. However, we mean outdoor ice skating.
An outdoor ice rink seems absurd in the face of our sometimes 70-degree winter daytime temperatures, but a few organizations do undertake the expense and technical difficulty to make it work. Here’s where you can enjoy the fruits of their efforts.
CitySkate Holiday Ice Rink
Smack-dab in the middle of downtown Phoenix you will find a decently sized outdoor ice rink, complete with holiday lights, a huge Christmas tree and other winter-ish accouterments. It makes for a nice backdrop while gliding — or, if you’re like us, teetering — across the ice.
If you skated here in the past, be aware that CitySkate handles admissions differently now. It breaks each day into multiple two-hour sessions — two sessions on Mondays to Thursdays and three sessions on Fridays to Sundays — with a limited number of passes per session to cut down on crowding and lines.
Where: CityScape, 1 East Washington Street, Phoenix
When: Nov. 26 to Jan. 8, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Special hours for holidays.
Cost: Passes cost $15 at the gate, or you can buy a $25 Express Pass online that lets you skip any waiting in line. The pass does include skates.
More info: http://www.phxicerink.com/
Desert Ice Skating Rink
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess pulls out all the stops for its winter experience, including 3 million lights, an Enchanted Plaza with a four-story tree, Santa’s Secret Headquarters, holiday character appearances and more.
Also, it offers the Desert Ice Skating Rink with a 6,000 square foot surface that provides plenty of room for fun. Plus, each night there’s a magical rink-side snowfall.
Where: Scottsdale Fairmont Princess, 7575 East Princess Drive, Scottsdale
When: Nov. 22 to Jan. 1
Cost: $20 per person, $5 skate rental, $35 parking
More info: http://www.scottsdaleprincess.com
Holiday Ice at The Wigwam
The famous Wigwam luxury resort offers a modest outdoor ice rink to the public during weekends in December. Don’t expect to pull off any fast or fancy skating, but casual skaters and families will enjoy it. And it happens to be the least expensive rink on the list.
Where: The Wigwam, 300 Wigwam Blvd, Litchfield Park
When: Nov. 25 to Jan. 7, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Cost: $8 adults, $5 children 10 and under. Includes skate rental.
More info: http://wigwamarizona.com/event/holiday-ice/
Ice Skating on the Farm
During December, Schnepf Farms transforms into a Winter Wonderland with fresh Christmas trees, snow sledding and a 3,400 square foot outdoor ice rink. Aside from general skating, “Pond Hockey” games take place — contact Schnepft Farms to reserve the rink — and there is even a Winter Classic Pond Hockey Tournament.
Where: Schnepf Farms, 24610 S. Rittenhouse Road , Queen Creek
When: Dec. 1 to Jan. 15, Daily except Tuesdays, Noon to 8 p.m.
Cost: $12 per person, includes skates (or you can bring your own)
More info: http://www.schnepffarms.com/
For 2016, Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale will keep its usual Thanksgiving-only ice rink open all December. You can find it in Fountain Park next to the giant Christmas tree. Certain nights offer special deals, discounts, various entertainment options and more, so check the website before you go.
Where: Westgate Entertainment District, 6751 N. Sunset Blvd., Glendale
When: Nov. 22 to Jan. 8, Times Vary based on day and part of the month
Cost: $13 for 7 and up, $10 children 4-6, students, seniors and military, free for children under 4. Includes skate rental.
More info: http://westgateaz.com/skate/
Winter Wonderland Ice Rink
In December, Main Street in Mesa lights up with Merry Main Street and offers plenty of holiday activities, including the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink in City Plaza. The 4,000 square foot rink holds 125 people at a time, and you can enjoy plenty of holiday lights, Santa’s sElfie Village and more before and after.
Where: Mesa City Plaza, 20 E. Main Street. Mesa
When: Nov. 25 to Jan. 1; 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, Noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Special holiday hours.
Cost: $10 per person for one hour of skating. Includes skate rental. Groups of 20-50 pay $7 per person.
More info: http://merrymainst.com/icerink/
– Justin Ferris, Phoenix.org