One common aspect that I have always loved about stately older European villages that I’ve had the chance to visit in my lifetime has been the village squares or piazzas, that bustling common ground where everyone feels welcome. In Kelowna, that place (to me) is Stuart Park. In the summer time it’s a common meeting spot for everyone from skate-boarders to Roller Derby teams, visiting families to professionals on lunch break. But the real joy of Stuart Park comes in the winter when the rink is ready for skaters of every ability. And this is no small feat considering that there are not many parks and outdoor attractions in town that can claim equivalent or greater bustle in the cold months than in summer.
If there’s a prettier setting for a skating rink in all of Canada, I can’t think of one. With Okanagan Lake lapping up against the waterfront boardwalk, the lovely Spirit of Kelowna Bear twinkling with lights in the evening, and the boats bobbing in the marina, it would be a tough one to top.
Settings aside though, the rink’s magical vibe undoubtedly comes from the constant hum of activity every day of the week, from its opening at 8:00 AM to close at 11:00 PM. Skaters of all ability levels and ages come out to enjoy a push along the smooth rink surface. Just seeing the giant smiles and hearing the laughter is enough to brighten one’s whole day. And true to the village piazza concept, everyone is welcome and enjoying it is free.
So lace-up and come on out to Stuart Park for a skate. While there are no skate rentals at Stuart Park, we have plenty of shops where you can find a good pair of new or used skates in town – and with Stuart Park becoming a fixture of Kelowna’s winters, it would be well worth the investment!