Wake County

Why there’s no outdoor ice skating rink in downtown Raleigh this year

Skaters enjoy the outdoor ice rink in downtown Raleigh on Dec. 30, 2013.
Skaters enjoy the outdoor ice rink in downtown Raleigh on Dec. 30, 2013. cseward@newsobserver.com

Downtown Raleigh will be missing the swoosh of ice skates this winter, thanks to nearby construction and scheduling snafus.

A popular outdoor ice rink has been part of the Winterfest celebration, put on by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, since 2009. This year, the scheduled construction of the FNB Tower, a 22-story building at 501 Fayetteville St., threw plans for the rink off track.

Bob Hagh, communications director for DRA, says that when the alliance was told the space was unavailable because of construction, it searched unsuccessfully for another spot.

“Throughout the year, we worked with our vendor to find another location to install the ice rink for the holiday season,” Hagh says. “Due to budget constraints, it was difficult to relocate the ice rink. As the FNB project timeline adjusted, the (original location) did come available, but too much time passed to secure the location for proper installation. We continued to search for alternative spots in downtown, including working with other vendors, but ultimately could not settle on a location due to time and budget.”

Raleigh Tree Lighting Celebration

The annual Winterfest celebration is changing this year, too, but the scaled-down event still centers on the tree lighting ceremony scheduled for 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2.

It will feature live music, contests, a giant Snowzilla super slide, a Carolina Hurricanes Slapshot Booth, an inflatable obstacle course, face painting, performances by Cirque de Vol and a free chance to snap photos with Santa.

“The Downtown Raleigh Tree Lighting Celebration is a new event that activates public space, gives the community a fun activity, and brings people down to enjoy all the restaurants, shops, and bars downtown Raleigh has to offer,” Hagh says. “It’s a smaller event, but we’re packing in many activities for families to enjoy as we kick off the holiday season.”

The tree lighting will take place toward the end of the evening’s festivities, Hagh says.

Holiday Hounds contest

There’s still time to sign up for the Holiday Hounds Costume Contest, which will award prizes for ugliest sweater, best pair (dog and owner both dressed up), and most festive. The deadline to enter is Wednesday, Nov. 29.


The Downtown Raleigh Tree Lighting Celebration takes place at City Plaza on Fayetteville Street, 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2.

Most downtown parking decks are free at night and before 5 p.m. Saturday and all day on Sunday.

Learn more at RaleighTreeLighting.com