There is a defining characteristic of Danish culture. It’s called Hygge, (pronounced hoo-gah), and it’s “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” In other words, it’s how people in northern climates mentally survive the long, dark, cold, winter. It’s finding the magic in cozy, the sparkle in togetherness, the satiety in indulgence – and you know hygge when you feel it. This winter, there’ll be another way you can get your hygge on, and so much more, in downtown Olympia. Bundle up with family and friends for Oly on Ice, compliments of the City of Olympia and its sponsors.

Olympia ice skating Oly-on-Ice-Skate-Rental
Oly on Ice has everything you need to crystalize memories. Skate rentals and skate aids are available on-site. Photo courtesy: City of Olympia

Oly on Ice, the pop-up ice skating rink returns for its third season, November 19 – January 17, after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19. It’s the same rink you’ve come to know and love, but this year with a few extra COVID-style additions that enhance the safety of attending.

The City of Olympia partners with vendor, Ice Rink Events, to bring this seasonal rink to life. Ice Rink Events continued to operate throughout the pandemic and is focused on providing not only an enjoyable experience, but also a safe one. “Our policy is to always be in compliance with local COVID-19 guidelines,” says Kellyn Koepplinger, project manager. “Such procedures include, but are not limited to: frequent disinfection of primary touchpoints including handrails and service counters; disinfection of the rental ice skates immediately upon distribution and return of each pair; frequent hand washing by employees; as well as the use of proper protective face masks.”

The City has added additional safety measures as well, by using timed-ticket entry as a way to make sure the rink stays at a safe capacity. Skaters will be able to book their tickets for a specific time slot and also reschedule, if needed. Tickets may still be purchased at the door, there may just be an occasional wait to skate if the facility is at the maximum when you arrive.

The City of Olympia will also perform enhanced cleaning protocols, and masks and other COVID-related guidelines will align with state and county guidelines at the time of operations, along with being posted at the rink and on Oly on Ice’s website.

Skating Into the Season

Olympia ice skating Oly-on-Ice-Ben-Hvlaty
Ben Hlavaty had a great time skating at Oly on Ice and is eager to go again with friends this year!
Photo credit: Jill Walsh

“We cannot wait for Oly on Ice to return this year!” says community member Jill Walsh. “My son and I have enjoyed a winter activity these past couple years that gets us out of the house for some wintertime fun.”

Recreation is a great boost to health and well-being, and coming together as a community has proved to be good for us after this period of isolation, as shown by the robust participation in Artswalk opening weekend and the LoveOly Fest this past summer.

Attending the rink also draws people downtown, and then hopefully throughout, in support of our diverse multitude of small businesses and restaurants that make downtown vibrant. Keeping your dollars within our local economy makes everyone warm and fuzzy!

The Theme Nights will return again this year with events hosted by Olympia Downtown Alliance, SPSCC, The Bridge Music Project and more.

Entertainment takes place on select dates with chances to see Part of Your World Princesses, local figure skater Debbi Leung, Media Island & The Women of Color In Leadership Movement, Studio West Nutcracker cast members, and more fun to be announced. On-site food vendors are also in the works, and the Oly on Ice website is the best place to keep up with the rotation of offerings.

Sensory-Friendly Skates in partnership with South Sound Parent-to-Parent will return on Sunday mornings with low lights and no music for those who wish for a quieter skate experience.

Olympia ice skating Oly-on-Ice-Entertainment
Catch some live entertainment while you skate during one of Oly on Ice’s Theme Nights. Photo courtesy: City of Olympia

An additional Cheap Skate option was added this year, with Mondays and Tuesdays both offering reduced admission, (with the exception of Olympia School District Winter Break and holidays). There’s also a Season’s Pass available this year for those who want to skate in abundance.

And thanks to this year’s financial sponsors and an additional grant from Haggen, the City will be distributing 760 free passes to low-income community members through local agencies, because, hygge for all!

Maybe it’s the twinkling lights that do it for you? Maybe it’s the sheen on the ice, or pulling on your favorite winter hat and sweater, or maybe it’s gliding along, hand-in-hand with friends and family, supporting each other the way we do through the tougher times.

At Oly on Ice, you can let your worries go, if only for one fleeting moment, and work on your twirls, and your hygge.

For more information about the rink, visit the website, Oly on Ice, or contact olympiaparks@ci.olympia.wa.us or 360.753.8380 for more information about private parties or to reserve use of the party space.

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