News & Politics

What to Know About the White House Holiday Ice Rink

Spoiler alert: it's invitation-only.

Last night's reveal of the White House Ice Rink. Photograph by Erin Scott and Oliver Contreras Cruz.

There is an ice-skating rink on the White House’s South Lawn for the first time in 43 years this holiday season. First Lady Jill Biden unveiled the rink last night, after revealing the executive mansion’s decorations earlier this week.

In 1980, former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter also erected an ice rink on the South Lawn. At the White House Christmas receptions that year, the 1968 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Peggy Fleming performed for Secret Service and White House staff and military aides.

Peggy Fleming performs on the South Lawn ice rink, December 22, 1980. Photograph courtesy of Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum/NARA.

The Wednesday night event included skating performances by 1988 Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano, Capital Theatre on Ice, and Snoopy. Dr. Biden’s remarks centered on her memories of skating on frozen lakes while growing up in Pennsylvania: “What’s more magical, and wonderful, and joyful than being on an ice rink on the South Lawn of the White House?”

The rub: the rink, which will be on the grounds through December, is invitation-only. The White House plans to reach out to “children of military families, frontline workers, first responders, educators, and local school children,” according to the First Lady’s press secretary Vanessa Valdivia. The rink will also be used for the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association’s Learn to Play program, which will offer coaching and free equipment to first-time participants.

Even if actual skating might be off-limits, you could catch sight of the rink from certain vantage points. Adjacent to the South Lawn is the Ellipse, where the National Christmas Tree display is on view.

Brooke Spach
Editorial Fellow