Paul Martinka

Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Prospect Park

January 3, 2020

As we enter a new decade, Prospect Park Alliance invites you to join us for special Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities in Prospect Park. This holiday is a great opportunity to take stock of the world we live in and reflect on what we can do to make it a better place for all. It’s also an ideal time to fit in those special winter activities you didn’t quite get to in December.

Freedom Songs and Stories with Tammy Hall
2 + 3 pm
Lefferts Historic House, $3 suggested donation, Registration Required

While Martin Luther King Jr. Day is specific to the United States, the struggle for freedom and self-determination is a universal experience across the world. This holiday, join Prospect Park Alliance at Lefferts Historic House for Freedom Songs and Stories with Tammy Hall. A masterful storyteller, Tammy Hall weaves together diverse tales from around the world to create a rich experience for all. Space at this event is limited, so please make sure to register for the event and bring your ticket confirmation on the day of the event.

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Nature Exploration
12–4 pm
Prospect Park Audubon Center, Free

We hear you: it’s hard to get outside in the dead of winter! If you need a reason to get out there, consider joining Prospect Park Alliance at the Audubon Center. Designed to encourage children’s curiosity while teaching them about the plants and animals native to Brooklyn, these activities are fun for kids and caretakers alike.

  • Discovery Pack, 12–3 pm: Want to create your own Prospect Park adventure? Stop by the Audubon Center to pick up a Discovery Pack, a ready-to-go kit filled with nature activities for families, and explore the diverse habitats of Brooklyn’s backyard in whichever way you please!
  • Animal Encounter, 2–3 pm: Watch and ask questions as Alliance Naturalists tell you about the animals that live inside the Audubon Center. Found near and far, learn the animals’ favorite foods and the habitats they call home. This program starts promptly at 3 pm. Animal Encounters is made possible with generous support from Macy’s, Inc.
  • Winter Wilderness Walk, 3-4 pm: Curious about animal tracks in the snow, how trees survive without leaves, or how bugs stay warm? Join an Alliance Naturalist for a tour of Prospect Park to learn how plants and animals survive the winter. This program leaves from the Audubon Center promptly at 3 pm.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Tennis Program
Monday, January 20, 1–4 pm 
Prospect Park Tennis Center, $80, Registration Required

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a longtime tennis player or just learning the basics of the game. Geared toward both adults and juniors, the Martin Luther King Day tennis clinic features fast-paced drill stations that focus on specific skills, including serve & volley, ground strokes, approach shots and offense/defense strategies. Advance registration required.

Ice Skating at Lakeside
Monday, January 20, 9 am–5 pm
LeFrak Center at Lakeside, Admission: $11 on holidays, Skate rental: $8

An extra day to skate at LeFrak Center at Lakeside? Yes, please! Make sure to stop by on MLK Jr. Day for gliding, swirling and dancing on the ice to great tunes. When it comes time to refuel and warm up, grab a seat at Bluestone Café for lunch, snacks, and warm drinks. And for those that would like to brush up on their skating skills, make sure to check out Lakeside’s Skate School with instructors and Olympians (yes, Olympians!) Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov. See you on the ice!

Martin Seck

Ready to Skate!

November 19, 2019

The winter ice-skating season at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park will begin Wednesday, November 20, 2019, with open skating hours the entire family will enjoy.

The LeFrak Center at Lakeside is Brooklyn’s premier ice skating destination. The center welcomes the public for ice skating as well as lessons and leagues in a range of winter ice activities, from figure skating to hockey and curling. 

This season, Lakeside is updating its fleet of ice skates with brand-new skates for rent, which will roll out in the coming weeks. In addition, world-renowned Olympic figure-skating athletes Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov have been appointed as Directors of Sports Programs for Lakeside’s growing Skate School.

Gregory and Petukhov represented the United States in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, and claimed six consecutive U.S. National Championships medals. They won the United States Olympic Committee “Rings of Gold” award for innovative sports programming and youth development, and continue to represent the United States Olympic ideals. Along with Hockey Director Greg Vaslet, the team will further strengthen Lakeside’s commitment to the community by providing exceptional coaching and expanded learn to skate programs. 

Learn-to-Skate and Learn-to-Play-Hockey classes will kick off the week of December 2, 2019. Interim booster classes for all ages will be available the weekends of November 23/24 and November 30/December 1 at 9 am for hockey, and 10:30 am for skating. To register, please contact skate@lakesidebrooklyn.com.

The LeFrak Center at Lakeside is a year-round recreational destination created by Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks, and operated by Upsilon Ventures, featuring ice skating and related sports in the winter months and biking, boating, roller skating and water play in the spring through fall. This 26-acre destination also includes a cafe and beautifully landscaped terraces and an esplanade to enjoy all four seasons. Lakeside opened to the public in 2013, and is the most ambitious project in the history of the park since its creation in 1867. It serves more than 250,000 people each year.

Visit our Lakeside page for hours, admission and additional information.

c. Martin Seck

Park Checklist: 7 Ways To Enjoy Winter

January 15, 2019

Every season is wonderful in its own way, and we love winter in Prospect Park! From snow-day activities to school break programs, here are 7 recommendations from Prospect Park Alliance to get you out of the house and into the park this season.

  1. Head to the LeFrak Center at Lakeside: It’s time to get out on the ice in Prospect Park. From a day of skating with friends, to  curling, hockey and more, visit the park’s state-of-the-art skating rink this season while the weather is still cold. 
  2. Enjoy family fun at the Audubon Center and Lefferts Historic House: Prospect Park’s beloved Audubon Center and Lefferts Historic House have plenty of exciting programming coming up this winter. Stop by both sites for Lunar New Year activities, including paper-lantern making at Lefferts, and a variety of activities during Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the Presidents Week school break.  
  3. Take a Winter Walk: If summer crowds aren’t your scene, the colder months are the perfect time of year to explore the park’s 585 acres of meadow, forest and lake. Take a look at our suggestions for winter walks that take advantage of the season. 
  4. Tennis, anyone? It can be hard to suit up for exercise in sub-zero temperatures, but the Prospect Park Tennis Center has you covered, literally. Heated, indoor courts are the perfect place to get a work out, with friends or in classes, while supporting Brooklyn’s Backyard.  
  5. Winter Birdwatching: Brush off the binoculars, because winter is the perfect time for birdwatching in Prospect Park! With the leaves off the trees throughout the park, spotting birds is easy–and Prospect Park is a world-renowned location to spot our avian pals. Learn more about birdwatching in the park, including upcoming birdwalks in January and February.
  6. Sledding in Prospect Park: While our winter is off to a mostly snow-free start, our fingers are crossed for flurries in the forecast and plenty of sledding days in the park. Check out our list of top Prospect Park sledding locations, and see you next blizzard!
  7. Take in our Prospect Park exhibition at Brooklyn Historical Society–last chance! An offsite checklist suggestion, head to the Brooklyn Historical Society to check out The Means of a Ready Escape: Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, an exhibition presented in partnership with Prospect Park Alliance that celebrates the founding vision of the Park, and traces its social and historical trajectories. Hurry, this exhibition closes February 10!

Learn more about upcoming events in Prospect Park.

Brittany Buongiorno

A Guide to Winter Activities in Prospect Park

December 14, 2016

Temperatures are hovering around freezing, the first snowflakes have fallen and here in Prospect Park, we say, “let it snow!” Are you ready for the cold-weather activities that we wait all year to enjoy? Here is our roundup of winter activities in the Park. 

Ice Skating
Strap on a pair of skates: the ice skating season at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside is in full swing! Come with friends for freestyle laps around the two rinks, or sign up for Skate School and learn the fundamentals of skating. Plus, Prospect Park Alliance members at the Supporter level or above can take advantage of Member Wednesdays and skate for free.

Sledding
When the city gets more than a few inches of snow, head to the Park to be among the multitudes that get a rush from sliding down our steep slopes. Bring a sled, toboggan or whatever your preference and check out a list of our top sledding spots in Prospect Park

Curling
Ready for a round of… curling? Believe it or not, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside is home to the official Brooklyn Lakeside Curling Club, which offers classes and tournaments. This sport, best known as an event in the Winter Olympics, is played in teams by players wearing shoes with grippers. Learn more about curling at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside

Figure Skating 
In addition to regular ice-skating, figure skating has found a home at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside. Figure skaters are encouraged to take to the ice in freestyle sessions, classes or during one of the shows, such as the Ice Spectacular, taking place Sunday, December 18. Learn more about figure skating at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside.

Cross-Country Skiing 
While not an “official” sport, cross-country skiing enthusiasts can’t wait for enough snow to strap on their skis and head out with smooth strides into the Park. Expanses like Long Meadow and the Nethermead are excellent locations to bring this traditionally rural pastime into city parks. 

Hockey 
Grab your pucks and pads! You can get into the game at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside with clinics, open hockey sessions, and (new this season!) Youth and Adult league play. Don’t know how to skate, but want to score a goal? Try Broomball Friday nights at Lakeside, played in sneakers on ice. Learn more about hockey at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside.

A Walk in the Park
There is no easier way to enjoy the serene and snowy season than with a walk in Prospect Park, no special skates, sticks, pads or gear required. Wander through the Park’s 585-acres, or let our curated Winter Walk guide your way on a tour up Lookout Hill, with views only available during this time of year. Learn more about the Winter Walk. 

Indoor Tennis
Snow and ice not quite your scene? Don’t worry; the Prospect Park Tennis Center has got you covered with heated indoor courts through mid-May. Participate in a variety of classes and leagues, or simply book a court to use with a friend. The Center will also offer special holiday programs during the Winter Recess. Learn more about the Tennis Center

Brooklyn Historical Society

From the Archives: Skating through History

January 20, 2016

After an unseasonably warm finale to 2015, winter has finally come to Prospect Park. However, the warmer weather didn’t stopped countless Brooklynites from enjoying the classic cold weather pastime of ice skating. At the LeFrak Center at Lakeside’s state-of-the-art rinks, skaters can glide on the ice all season long, regardless of Mother Nature’s plans.

This wasn’t always the case. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, eager skaters were forced to wait for a complete freeze of the Lake before taking to the ice. Because of fluctuations in temperature, Prospect Park visitors were notified of the Lake’s ability to accommodate skaters through creative means: a red flag hung at Grand Army Plaza, as well as signs on the fronts of the trolleys that used to traverse Flatbush Avenue and Prospect Park West.

An article from the Brooklyn Eagle on December 18, 1882, describes the scene on the first day of skating that year: “Boys who were on their way to school suddenly began to feel sad and wondered if their father’s [sic] physicians would not order fresh air and exercise instead of the usual intellectual cramming.”

In those years, the first day of four-inch-thick ice was cause for celebration borough-wide, and led to peak crowds of as many as 20,000 skaters. With so many folks flocking to the ice, and with periodic warm spells midwinter, the scene at the Lake was understandably chaotic and unpredictable. Collisions between skaters and slips through thin patches of ice were not uncommon; all the while, “keepers,” uniformed in blue, tried often fruitlessly to instill a sense of order on the ice amidst the commotion.

Fortunately for Brooklyn skaters, crashing through the ice or being trampled by a renegade toboggan are concerns of the past. In 1960, under the guidance of controversial master planner Robert Moses, work began on the Park’s first skating rink, Wollman Rink, on the site of today’s LeFrak Center. Gone were the days of watching trolleys to figure out the afternoon’s plans. Park-goers could skate at any time during the season on the Park’s first skating rink.

And of course, things only got better in 2013 with the opening of the LeFrak Center, the Prospect Park Alliance’s contribution to Brooklyn skating. Its two modern rinks provide even more space to glide and an improved experience for skaters. If you haven’t paid the LeFrak Center a visit yet this year, be sure to stop by and check out the variety of ice-based programming this season – no need to look for a red flag in Grand Army Plaza! 

Michael Moran/OTTO

Ice Skating Season is Around the Corner

October 20, 2015

The fall may be just underway, but ice skating season is around the corner at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside. Slated to begin October 31, this season enjoy expanded programs and clinics on the ice. There will also be opportunities to try these new offerings for free.  

The skate school is back, offering lessons, hockey clinics and an expanded figure skating program, including a slate of performances and showcases. Ice skating lessons are available for all ages, from special Parent/Child and Tots classes to beginner to advance levels for youth and adults. Lakeside’s Hockey Academy teaches the fundamentals of this ultimate winter sport, including beginner hockey lessons, and youth and adult clinics.

Love curling? Last year, Lakeside introduced this Olympic sport to Brooklyn for the first time in more than a century. This year, curling returns with an expanded schedule of introductory sessions and league play. The center is also introducing another sport—broomball, a hockey-like game played with brooms and sneakers. Ice skating skills are not required, anybody can play!

Not sure which of these fun, seasonal activities is the best fit for you? Try them for free. Lakeside will offer free lessons and clinics this season. Stay tuned for more details.

The LeFrak Center at Lakeside will feature a new seasonal menu at the Bluestone Café. Stop in for a hot chocolate and other tasty treats, and enjoy the view of the rinks from a table indoors or outdoors.

Learn more about skating programs.