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Skaters took advantage of a free session on the ice at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday (May 5) before the rink closed for a major six month refurbishment, which will see it with a new international-sized rink when it re-opens in the autumn.

They took a free turn, spin and circle on the rink before Managing Director Rebecca Kane and Ice Rink Manager Jeremy Walton wielded pick axes to cast the first strike to break the ice ready for its removal.

Long past its prime, the rink will be replaced a new 56 metre x 26 metre rink. Other work will include the installation of a more efficient and environmentally friendly chiller system, increased seating from 750 to 1,000 and an upgrade to toilets and changing rooms.

To provide a fun alternative during the summer while the main rink is closed, Alexandra Palace is seeking planning permission for a temporary ice rink in the grounds. It would be provided by former Dancing on Ice winner Kyran Bracken, who also regularly trains at the Alexandra Palace Ice Rink and whose company has previously run similar rinks around the country.

It is sad to see the old rink go, but it has served us well for nearly 20 years and the refurbishment is absolutely vital – the current ice has lumps, bumps and a slope or two and really isn’t up to the job any more. When it re-opens it will give both our regular and occasional skaters a much better experience for many years to come,said Rebecca.