Winter is finally upon us, and the cold weather is truly here to stay. When it is chilly out, not only does it become harder to pursue your favorite outdoor sports and activities, but it makes it painful to leave the warm comfort of your home at all! Luckily, this time of year has its own charms and snowy-weather specific activities that help keep the season enjoyable, no matter the temperature. Skiing and snowboarding are two particular winter favorites. However, these can be difficult and expensive to participate in if you do not have the necessary equipment, or easy access to a ski resort. Ice skating, however, is an inexpensive winter activity that can be found right here in our own city, accessible by public transportation. This makes it an ideal sport to enjoy during the winter months.
Gwangju Family Land
Gwangju Family Land, the largest urban amusement park in Jeolla-do, already has a lot going for it with numerous rides and attractions to keep one entertained all-year round, despite its perhaps dated décor and machinery. But if the need to skate strikes you (whether inline or ice), Family Land has rinks to satisfy your craving. Of the skating options available, this might be one of the more expensive ones, with an adult one-day pass available for 25,000 won, which includes skate rental. However, there are the extra perks of rides, exhibitions and other sports facilities to enjoy beyond just ice skating. To get to the amusement park, take bus 26 from Gwangju U-Square Terminal to Uchi Park.
Yeomju Skating Rink
Another popular skating rink can be found at the Yeomju Gym, near the World Cup Stadium. This rink has been described as relatively busy, with skaters of all ages and levels of ability enjoying themselves on the ice. The rink is a decent size that can accommodate a large number of skaters. However, because it is busy you may find yourself navigating around other skaters more than you might like. Skating here is quite inexpensive, with adult admission only 3,500 won, and skate rental 3,000 won. An interesting facet of ice skating culture in Korea that I have not experienced in my home country, is that wearing gloves and a helmet are required to skate. Luckily, helmets are provided, but be sure to bring your own gloves. To get to the Yeomju Skating rink, take the 16, 20, 26, 47, 59, or 74 bus to Yeomju Gym bus stop. You can also walk from either Ssangchon or Uncheon subway stations, but it will take you about 20 minutes by foot.
City Hall Outdoor Skating Rink
While the indoor options listed above can ostensibly be enjoyed all-year around, the City Hall Skating Rink is unique in that it is Gwangju’s only outdoor rink. To my mind, this makes this location particularly special. For only a limited time during the coldest months (late December to late February), this rink is open to the public, and you can truly experience the magic of the season as you skate outdoors in the chilly air, sharing ample skating room with laughing children, families, and couples. This is perhaps the cheapest skating option, with an adult entrance fee of 1,000 won that includes skate and helmet rental. The rink is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week, with slightly extended hours during the weekend. In the past, free beginner skating lessons have also been available on certain days and times of the week, so if you have never skated and are interested in doing so, this might be a good place to start! The rink is located just outside of City Hall, and can be reached via bus 01, 16, 25, 38, 64 and 518 from the bus terminal.