Harvard University will open a free skating rink in Allston on Friday (Jan. 15). The 40-by-60-foot temporary indoor rink will be open to the public Fridays and weekends through March 28.The Harvard Allston Skating Rink at 168 Western Ave. is a way to bring community-oriented uses to the University’s Allston properties while it looks for building tenants. The rink is part of the University’s commitment to strengthen the active stewardship of its properties and improve community vitality in Allston.“As we seek a long-term use for this building, we wanted to open up this space to the community in a creative way,” said Christine Heenan, vice president of Harvard Public Affairs and Communications. “We share the neighborhood’s desire for places that can bring the community together.”The indoor rink is housed in a former garage. An adjacent, glass-lined showroom has been transformed into the rink’s lounge.During the week, staff from Harvard Real Estate Services, the Allston Development Group, and Harvard Public Affairs and Communications put the final touches on the space — hanging lights, decorating walls, and arranging furniture.Starting Saturday (Jan. 16), visitors can go skating, watch skaters from the heated lounge, or get refreshments. Allston residents, along with Harvard and local officials, will celebrate the rink’s opening on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m.Visitors can bring their own skates or borrow free pairs. Skates are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and their numbers are limited.In the future, the rink will be open on Fridays from 3 to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be special hours on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 18), from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and during Boston’s school vacation week (Feb. 15-19), from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
President Xi Jinping met with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in Beijing on Monday, vowing to improve ties with Mauritania within the framework of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum. Aziz is in China for the second China-Arab States Expo, a key platform for promoting ties between China and Arab states, in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, northwest China.