Ice skating season returns to Chicago as the city glides into winter

By Kristen Gesicki and Abra Richardson

V Pasiskevicius, a frequent ice skater during Chicago’s winters, said having the ice rinks closed last year was heartbreaking. Pasiskevicius was a regular at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink for many years before it was shut down in 2020 but said he is glad to be back.

“[I came] to see all the veteran skaters because we have a group up here,” Pasiskevicius said. “There’s about 40 of us, that we skate every year with each other, so it’s mainly to see the friends and the Christmas tree.”

The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park, 1 N. Michigan Ave., opened to the public on Nov. 19 for its 20th anniversary, along with the Ice Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, 337 E. Randolph St. The ice skating season will go until March 6 for the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink and March 13 for the Ice Skating Ribbon, weather permitting.

The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink offers free admission, and the Ice Ribbon has free admission at select times. Skate rentals are available for $13 to $22 — depending on the rink, time and date of reservation. Each rink requires reservations to adhere to the maximum capacity on the ice, with the Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon having a capacity of 500 people per time slot.

Sarah Moran, a sophomore film and television major, said until this year, she had never been to the Ice Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park.

“I’ve [gone] ice skating pretty much every year since middle school for my birthday, so this seemed like a great opportunity, and it looked cool,” Moran said. “[Skating in Maggie Daley Park] was different from your normal rink — it’s a ribbon.”

Patrick McArdle, a junior film and television major, skated with Moran to celebrate her 20th birthday on the rink’s opening day.

“It’s fun. I haven’t been ice skating in a long time, so it’s nice to be able to go out with friends and do something like this that you only really get once a year if you’re lucky,” McArdle said.

This year, the Ice Skating Ribbon is sponsored by the Immersive Van Gogh Experience at the Germania Club Building, 108 W. Germania Place. Skaters can glide around on Van Gogh’s brushstrokes as his artwork is reflected onto the ice.

“What we are excited about this year … is that we have decals on the Ribbon itself,” said Jackie Guthrie, park supervisor for Maggie Daley Park. “It offers more of a unique experience for those people skating.”

The partnership between Maggie Daley Park, the Chicago Park District and the Immersive Van Gogh Experience allows ice skaters a unique experience under the city lights with decals of Van Gogh’s artwork underneath the ice.

“This is such an added treasure for Chicago, so we encourage everyone to come out,” Guthrie said. “People are able to get a really cool experience here downtown, having a wonderful skyline, but also having a great opportunity for some outdoor exercise.”

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events will present free skating lessons at the McCormick Tribune Plaza rink on most Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. The lessons teach beginner and intermediate ice skating and hockey skills. Ticketed reservations for lessons are required.

“[Ice skating is] a must-do,” Pasiskevicius said. “It’s one of the biggest and best attractions, [and] it’s quite easy to get a ticket and a spot. … People should definitely come out and have the experience.”