Arts & Culture

Polar Plaza opens Friday for skating in downtown Tacoma

When the sliding screen windows and aluminum mesh canopy of Tacoma Art Museum’s new Haub wing were thrown open for visitors last weekend, construction was busy across Pacific Avenue as the tent went up for the annual Franciscan Polar Plaza outdoor ice rink in Tollefson Plaza.

The museum-organized skating rink, now in its fourth year, will offer many of the same activities as in previous years — live music, broomball and an appearance by the Seattle Thunderbirds hockey team — plus all the new features of the Haub wing itself.

The rink is small but kid-friendly, with double-bladed skates that fit over shoes to let toddlers fly, lockable rink gates so no one escapes, and kids’ skate sessions from 10 a.m.-noon on December Sundays. There’s even face painting on weekends and a free photo booth. (Note: The ice is skateable but rather choppy on the edges for beginners.)

For older skaters, there will be live music from 7-9 p.m. Saturdays. The Seattle Thunderbirds will be on the ice at 1 p.m. this Sunday, and the broomball tournament returns 6-8 p.m. Dec. 1. Concessions include hot drinks, cookies, chips and beef jerky.

Finally, Tacoma Art Museum’s recent expansion means more post-skate options. Besides seeing the new Marie Watt sculpture “Blanket Stories” across Pacific Avenue, skaters have a free lobby to warm up in, with a revamped café and art studio, and the option to buy a ticket for the new Western art galleries.

Other nearby fun includes the Children’s Museum (1501 Pacific Ave.), Washington State History Museum (1911 Pacific Ave.) and art shop Tinkertopia (1914 Pacific Ave.), plus bookstores, cafes and restaurants, all within two blocks. You can also buy your Christmas tree on the Marriott side of the plaza.

The Polar Plaza is open Friday through Jan. 11 at 1700 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. This weekend, it’s open from 4-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. From Nov. 24-29, hours are 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday-Sunday (closed Thanksgiving). December hours vary; check the website for specific days and times.

Admission is $8 general; $7 seniors, students, military; $4 ages 5 and younger (includes $4 discount admission to TAM). Skate rentals are $2. For more information, call 253-320-3164 or visit or