Temperatures may still be in the 60s, but the iconic Wollman Rink in Central Park is ready for its transformation into a winter wonderland. The ice skating rink will open for the season on Sunday, October 23 with a free skate day featuring marching band music, a synchronized skating performance, skating clinics and ice sculptures.
Since it opened in the 1950s, the rink at the southern end of Central Park has delighted locals and visitors alike who cherish skating under the stars with the backdrop of the city’s skyline. To get in on the fun, general admission tickets range from $15 to $35 for adults, depending on date of entry; children and senior tickets cost $10 all season. You can rent sakes for $10. Tickets are on sale now.
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Here’s what to expect at the rink this year.
A massive opening day party
Opening day, held on Sunday, October 23, will be free for all (including skate rental) with eight hours of programming.
- Music by the award-winning Cardinal Spellman High School marching band from the Bronx
- On-ice performances by Figure Skating in Harlem; Camden Pulkinen, a current member of Team USA; nationally-ranked Skating Club of New York competitor, Jake Mao; the Skyliners synchronized skating team; and Ice Theatre of New York.
- A demonstration of skating elements from the choreographers and skate instructors behind the cast of Broadway’s Kimberly Akimbo
- A skating soundtrack by DJ Rob Dinero
- Free clinics for those learning to skate or interested in learning a new skating skill
- Demonstrations from a rising New York chef
- Live ice sculpture carving by Ice Miracles
- Cambodian Khmer cuisine demonstrations by Brooklyn-based Chef Chinchakriya Un
- The unveiling of new decor for the space by students from The Art Students League of New York and The High School of Art and Design
After all that, there’s a Sound Bath Skating event (this one is ticketed), offering a meditative ice skating experience with guided breathwork and movement, along with the sounds of singing bowls, gongs and chimes.
New food options
There are two dining options on site: The Café, located in the clubhouse and operated by Great Performances, and Chef Melba Wilson’s standalone restaurant, Melba’s, located on The Overlook above the rink and open through February.
A build-your-own chili bar is coming to The Café this season, along with Melba’s Chicken Sandwich.
As the temperature drops, rentable, heated igloos will adorn the Overlook in “Melba’s Igloo Village,” offering seasonal accommodations for dining on classic dishes and drinks, including a “Taste of Melba’s” offering.
Warm up at the rinkside Hot Toddy Tent with beverages such as Pumpkin Spiced Hot Chocolate (Tito’s Vodka topped with whipped cream and cinnamon) and Irish Apple Cider (Jameson Black Barrel topped by an orange wheel and cranberries).
An emphasis on accessibility with free admission
Accessibility is a huge focus for the rink’s leadership this year.
For the first time this year, the rink is partnering with Culture Pass, a New York Library-run system for reserving free admission to dozens of NYC cultural institutions.
In partnership with Culture Pass, they’re expanding their Wollman Rink Access Program (WRAP), which helps provide access for New Yorkers who have not historically been able to afford a visit to the rink. WRAP will make monthly batches of free skating admission tickets available online starting November 1 and lasting throughout the season, with 60 percent reserved for those living in underserved New York zip codes.
Skaters can also show a New York City Library or idNYC card at the box office during public skating hours to secure an on-site WRAP package on a first-come, first-served basis. These in-person tickets provide discounted entry, skates and a hot cocoa for $14.
In addition, there’s a series of free skate days for members of specialized groups and their families, including veterans (November 11), teachers (January 16), public sector employees (February 20) and first responders and essential workers (March 11).
“Central Park is one of the most democratic spaces in New York; ice skating here is a must-do winter activity, which is why during our second ice skating season we’re deepening our programs and partnerships to ensure we’re reaching more New Yorkers than ever—including adding Culture Pass to make free tickets more accessible,” Stefanie Tomlin, general manager of Wollman Rink and vice president of Wollman Park Partners, said in a press release. “Every New Yorker deserves to experience the joy of being out on the rink under the skyline in Central Park, and we can’t wait to show New Yorkers and visitors alike what’s in store this season.”
This is the rink’s second year under management by Wollman Park Partners, a joint venture between Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Related Companies and Equinox.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.