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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 March 2021

Ice skaters take to Europe's frozen lakes and canals as temperatures plummet – in pictures

Parts of Amsterdam's historic canal became a makeshift ice rink over the weekend

As plunging temperatures sweep across large swathes of Europe, people are lacing up their skates to take to the ice.

Frozen lakes, ponds and canals have been transformed into ice rinks as temperatures continue to plummet across the continent, resulting in many people taking a break from national lockdowns to make the most of the rare conditions.

In Germany, which is currently experiencing its second national lockdown following a surge of coronavirus cases in the country, dozens of people took to the frozen Landwehr Canal in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin to skate and walk.

In the Netherlands, several people ignored warnings not to skate on the thin ice of a rarely frozen pond on Friday, only to plunge into the chilly waters.

The country was hit by its first proper snowstorm, dubbed Storm Darcy, in more than a decade at the weekend, sparking excitement in the country, where almost everyone is said to have a pair of skates ready for when the canals freeze over.

But the Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte has warned against mass skating, to avoid the risk of spreading Covid-19 as well as injuries potentially clogging the already under-pressure hospitals.

The city council of The Hague issued a more specific warning for no one to skate on the Hofvijver pond because the ice was too thin, after several people had already fallen in trying.

But that didn't stop many amateur enthusiasts on Friday, who promptly broke through the ice into the freezing water beneath.

Emergency services rescuers in special protective gear eventually escorted them to the shore, as hundreds of curious onlookers surrounded the pond, which is in the centre of the city.

This week's cold snap briefly raised hopes that a famous ice-skating race could be revived for the first time in nearly a quarter-century. Global warming has meant the Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Race) hasn't been held since 1997.

But Rutte ruled the race out, saying skating must be limited to pairs because of anti-coronavirus restrictions.

"And please don't fall and have to go to the hospital because it is already so busy there," he warned.

However, skaters were able to take to a small patch of Amsterdam’s historic Prinsengracht canal, which had frozen just enough between two bridges to allow for safe skating.

See more pictures from Europe’s big freeze in the gallery above.

Updated: February 14, 2021 03:47 PM

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