Merrymaking in winter time

The very first snow of 2009 fell in early November in Beijing. Temperatures are once again starting to dip. This is good news for ice skating lovers, who can't to show off their stunning skill. In today's Style Watch, we recommend you to several places in the city, most of which have huge surfaces to skate on.

Shichahai Skating Rink

Winter chills cool the heat of the Shichahai area of the Xicheng District in Beijing. When it's freezing outside, the place becomes heaven for skaters and those who love the cold.

Their blades come in various forms, figure skates, speed skates and hockey skates. Some are beginners, others are professionals showing off their stunning twirls.

With the air suffusing with laughter, people of all ages can find time to relax, away from their routine existence.

Yanqing Skating Rink

Yanqing a north-western suburb of Beijing is a well known spot for ice skating. Its annual ice skating festival is gaining popularity among Beijing residents and visitors from afar.

Yanqing is a perfect place for outdoor activities during the chilly season. It boasts an abundance of resources for ice skating. Usually the temperature in Yanqing is a couple of degrees cooler than in the city. Visitors can always get their woollies out earlier and enjoy the seasonal fun here.

Longqingxia Ice Lantern Festival

The Longqingxia Ice Lantern Festival opens annually around the Chinese Spring Festival. The 2010 festival, which opens in mid-January, will be focusing on the theme of "The Splendor of the Flourishing Time".

The Longqingxia Ice Lantern Festival has all the ingredients for an ideal family day. Its lantern exhibition covers a spacious area of more than 100-thousand square meters. The lanterns, all made of ice, come in various shapes and forms: There is "the Great Wall" winding through the hill; and ice structures in the shape of kiosks and pavilions, with ice-made animals hiding in between. Ice sculptors are also invited to join the festival, creating their own works of art on location.

The festival is also interactive for visitors, who are encouraged to join the treasure hunting activity in the snow and take a ride on the stunning train that ascends the hills.

What are you waiting for? It's time to get your mittens on and head out to the snow parks around Beijing. Remember, outdoor activities aren't just for kids, it's for anyone who is young at heart.