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Somerset House gets skates on with an 'ice-cool'makeover

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Somerset House is entering into the Christmas spirit by transforming its eighteenth-century courtyard into an ice-skating rink, writes David Taylor.

The rink, for use between 14 December and 6 January, will be assembled in the southern half of the restored courtyard at a cost of £300,000. It will, at 20m by 30m, be a slightly larger version than the other main openair skating attraction in the capital, at Broadgate. It will be rectangular, not circular as at Broadgate's, and will partially cover new fountains for the square designed by Jeremy Dixon.Edward Jones, which is advising on the rink's appearance.

Somerset House director Duncan Wilson said: 'We want to make this an annual Christmas treat for Londoners and hope it will add to the character of the city, in much the same way as the ice rink that has become a traditional attraction at the Rockefeller Center in New York.'

The rink, which will be illuminated after dark, will be able to accommodate 200 skaters per hour and will feature 'traditional hot snacks'by restaurateur Oliver Peyton around its perimeter, while a 'magnificent' Christmas tree will front the scheme at the courtyard's Strand entrance.

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