Today forecasts predict snow in some parts of Beijing, but we want to remind you that Beijing’s snow is not crystal clean like the snows of our youth, nor will they close down schools on Monday, even if the snow sticks for days.
Though snow can bring in blue skies the following day, as writer Ruth Silbermayr-Song has pointed out, the actual snow could be just as dirty as acid rain. Beijing Meterological Bureau warned the entire city that snow can pick up pollutants as they drop through the air in response to Thursday’s snow falls.
Those of you who are from the warmer climates of the world where snow literally shuts down society, you can be thankful that milk and bread won’t run out at your local supermarket even with the expectation of dirty snow. However, this means when Monday rolls around, even if roads are still iced over, you will still need to take your children to school and lug yourself to work. Beijingers can, apparently, drive in snow, ice, hail, and sleet, though fog tends to freak everyone out. (This is purely circumstantial evidence based on last Wednesday’s social media reactions.)
For those who are accustomed to happy, busy snow days, we suggest not letting your children lick snow off of poles and avoid snow angels in deceptively white hills. But we assume if a child is wearing a mask and you are sure to wash outer layers, sliding on a sled should be OK.
We would also warn you not to skate on any bodies of water in Beijing, unless they have been confirmed to be safe. On the upside, there are plenty of ice rinks in Beijing to help you still enjoy the perks of winter without the potentially nasty snow.
- Indoor and Outdoor Ice Rinks
All Star Rink
Located in Solana mall, this charming indoor rink is popular with families and even private lessons (in Chinese only) from national skating team coaches.
Open year round, 10am-9.30pm. RMB 50 for an hour and a half. Lessons cost RMB 135 for 40 mins. 1/F, Solana Lifestyle Shopping Park, 6 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu, Chaoyang District (5905 6328)
Century Star Club
If you want to go for a leisurely skate, then this is not the place for you. However, serious skaters will enjoy the high quality lessons offered at this rink, though the number of students and teachers leave no room for more recreational visitors.
Open year round, 1.30-7.30pm. RMB 120 for a half-hour lesson. B/F, Capital Gymnasium, 54 Zhongguancun Nandajie, Haidian District (6834 6346) www.centurystar.com.cn
From hockey tournaments to post ice team window shopping, this shopping mall housed rink has a wide spectrum of options for visitors.
Open year round, Mon-Tue 10am-9.30pm, Wed-Thu 10am-10.45pm, Fri 10am-8.30pm, Sat 3-7.30pm, Sun 1-7.15pm. Mon-Fri anytime and any duration before 5pm RMB 60, after 5pm RMB 70. Weekends, RMB 80 for two hours. 7/F, Joy City Mall, Chaoyang North Road No. 101, Chaoyang District, Beijing 7F (8552 6871, 8552 6695) www.championrink.com/en-us/events/champion
It may be a small rink, but the skaters at Le Cool give it plenty of personality. Thanks to its central location, it draws a crowd that is both vast in size and wide in variety, making it one of the liveliest and most downright fun rinks in town.
Open year round, Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-7pm. Weekdays RMB 30 for 90 min (10am-6pm), RMB 40 for 90 min (6-10pm). Weekends: RMB 50 for 90 min. Skate rental included. B2/F, China World Shopping Mall, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (6505 5776, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.lecoolicerink.com
Paradise Walk Mall (Tianjie Shopping Center)
This mall also boasts its own skating rink, with virtual reality shops, and a large indoor playground.
Mon-Fri 10am-9.30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm. 5 Yongxing Lu, Daxing District. (5280 3300)大兴区永兴路5号院
While many popular local skating venues are bustling hubs of activity, this outdoor rink will satisfy many foreigner’s longing for the quieter ice rinks of their hometowns. Indeed, Dulwich’s rink is perfect for timid children looking to better their balance, along seasoned adults looking to skate in peace.
Open for the season from Nov 22. Weekends, 3:30pm-7pm (not open to the public on weekdays, opening time sometime change due to special events, call beforehand). RMB 50. Dulwich College Beijing, Legend Garden Villas, 89 Capital Airport Road, Shunyi District, Beijing (64549150) www.dulwich-beijing.cn
Glide across the ice with hutong rooftops as your backdrop. Nothing else will ever give lifelong laowai skiers such a simultaneous taste of both home and abroad.
Open to the season from Dec 20. 10am-dusk. Prices TBC. Qianhai, north side of Beihai Park, Xihai Beiyan, Xicheng District. (6612 5717)
Like Houhai, this historic site will give your ice time a distinctively Chinese feel. Better still: the lake is huge, giving you plenty of room to attempt to make figure eights.
Qinglongqiao Jiedao, Haidian District (6288 1144). This season’s opening times and prices not available at press time (we suggest calling ahead). In years past it was open from Nov-Apr and priced at RMB 50.
If you can’t bare to have the snow flirt with your winter-loving heart, you could also take a day trip to cleaner slopes. Check out options here.
Photo: Anathea Utley (Flickr)