Warming up to Winter at Foxwoods

It seems like the earlier Christmas decorations start appearing in stores and the earlier stores open on Thanksgiving Day, the more of a grinch I become. As a family that celebrates Hanukkah at home and Christmas with my extended family, I don’t go all out for Christmas…but still, I do enjoy the holidays. At least, I used to. These days everything feels so commercial and all consuming. December gets so busy with events, shopping, baking, and latke making. Celebrating two holidays should be twice the fun, but sometimes all it feels like is twice the work. I find it very hard to get into the holiday spirit.

But you know how they say “seek and you shall find?” The same is true about getting in the holiday mood. Sometimes you need to seek it out. I found my holiday spirit this year at Foxwoods’ ice rink and outdoor patio.  Located in Mashantucket, CT, Foxwoods Resort Casino, run by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, is one of the premier hotel, gaming, and entertainment destinations in the Northeast. A casino resort may seem like an odd choice to find my holiday spirit, but sometimes you find things in the most unexpected places.

Ice skating at Foxwoods outdoor rink and winter patio

My family was invited to join in the season opening of their outdoor ice rink and patio, which is open from November 28, 2014 to March 8, 2015. Located behind the Fox Tower outside of the conference center, the outdoor rink is surrounded by trees illuminated with the glow of over 100,000 lights. Next to the rink there is a 30 foot, fully decorated Christmas tree, and giant holiday decorations including over-sized Christmas lights, presents, and tree ornaments — perfect for getting this grinch in the mood for some holiday fun. On the night of the opening, the chef had also created life sized ice sculptures to decorate the outdoor patio (although the chef’s true crowning achievement were the delicious cronuts available to skaters.)

Ice skating at Foxwoods outdoor ice rink and winter patio

The evening kicked off with a serenade of carolers in Victorian dress, followed by the appearance of Santa Claus and his skating elves. After the ribbon cutting, the ice was christened by none other than Olympic skater Brian Boitano, who was later joined on the ice by New York Ranger Dan Girardi. The press and public in attendance were then invited to go out on the ice.

You can bring your own skates or rent them at the ticket booth ($15 for adults, $8 for children) and strap them on and stash your stuff (cubbies only, no lockers) in the changing cabin. You can skate with Santa like we did every Saturday and Sunday from 3 – 5 pm on December 6 through 21st. Kids can also get their picture taken with Santa on December 7, 14 or 21st from noon through 3 pm at the singing Christmas Tree on the Great Cedar Concourse.

Ice skating at Foxwoods

The DJ cranked an upbeat blend of popular and holiday music to keep skaters moving. While the ice rink isn’t large, it also isn’t crowded so even unsteady skaters were comfortable and not worried about getting run over by more experienced skaters. While moving around the ice will probably keep you warm, you can also take a break off the ice and relax in an Adirondack chair set up at one of the four outdoor fireplaces or warm up under one of the heat lamps sprinkled throughout the patio.

Ice skating at Foxwoods outdoor rink and winter patio

We arrived that evening stressed from a busy day at work and school, worried that we were going to miss the opening after being stuck in rush hour traffic in Providence, and unsure of exactly where we were supposed to go. But after a couple of hours of outdoor fun and family bonding, we were able to not just put that behind us, but I truly found myself embracing the holiday spirit and yes, even winter, for the first time this season. Plus, winter hasn’t even officially arrived and we have already checked one thing off our winter to-do list. For the last couple of years, my daughter has been begging us to go ice skating outside but something has always kept us from it — it was too cold, we were too busy, someone was sick — so when we were driving home and my daughter told me how happy she was and how much fun she had, I was so glad we made the trip.

Ice skating at Foxwoods

The Foxwoods ice rink and winter patio are open Sundays from 11 am – 9pm, Monday through Thursday from 2pm to 9pm, Friday from 2pm-10pm and Saturday from 11am – 10pm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for kids ($8 for casino guests including skates.) If you are visiting Foxwoods’ winter patio, I also strongly recommend paying a visit to the impressive Pequot Museum next door, the world’s largest Native American museum, which takes you through 20,000 years of history.

Note: We were guests of Foxwoods Resort but the opinions are our own.


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2 Comments on “Warming up to Winter at Foxwoods

  1. This looks like a ton of fun! I have NEVER ice skated and need to try it!

      I am not very good but luckily the rink wasn’t too crowded so I felt comfortable.

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