Skating frenzy: Will there be skating on the canals this weekend?

Skating frenzy: Will there be skating on the canals this weekend?

It is a widely known fact that the Dutch love to skate, and the current icy weather conditions mean people up and down the country have been keen to get their skates on and enjoy the joys of skating on natuurijs (“natural ice”) as canals, lakes, and rivers across the Netherlands freeze over.

As an expat, you may not (yet) feel comfortable on the ice, but you can still take part in the winter fun by wrapping up warm, grabbing a hot drink to-go, and watching the rare sight of people skating along the iconic Dutch canals. The last time the canals in Amsterdam froze over thick enough for skating was in 2018, but all week people have been getting ready for it to happen again. But now that the weekend nears, it looks as though temperatures could rise again - what does this mean for the canal-skating dream?

Will there be skating on the Amsterdam canals?

The cold temperatures from the past week mean people across the country have already been making the most of the natuurijs, and temperatures are expected to stay below zero until Sunday morning. Just take a look at how many people donned their skated on the Veluwemeer on Thursday!

Saturday could be the best (and only!) chance to skate on the canals, but even that isn’t certain. On Thursday, many were left shocked and angry after a video of a man driving his boat along the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam was shared online, breaking the layer of ice that had already formed. “What are you doing, man?” onlookers cried. And with temperatures gradually rising, the big question is whether the ice will be thick enough for skating. So far, it looks as though the thickness on the Amsterdam canals is about one centimetre - not thick enough to skate safely.

Keep an eye on an app like Ijsmeester to see where you can skate safely in your area. In addition to this, remember to maintain 1,5-metre distance wherever you go - the Dutch police are concerned about possible crowds amassing in skating areas this weekend, and warn the public that if areas become too busy they may have to be closed off, in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Hopes of Dutch skating championships dashed thanks to coronavirus

The weather also means that the KNSB skaters union had started preparing for natuurijs championships, and hoped the Dutch government would allow for the coronavirus restrictions to be relaxed slightly in order for the Dutch Marathon Championships (NK Marathon) to take place.

But what would’ve been the first NK Marathon since 2013 was not to be. On Thursday, the cabinet announced that it could not give the championship the green light, deciding it would not be possible to hold the event in a coronavirus-proof way. “At the moment it is already very busy with people who are present on and around the ice,” the cabinet wrote in a statement. “We have come to the conclusion that, unfortunately, due to the pressure on healthcare, police and enforcement, it is now not possible to organise a coronavirus-proof marathon.”

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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