The ISU celebrated its first World Ice Skating Day ©Getty Images

The International Skating Union's (ISU) first World Ice Skating Day has featured events in 45 countries, aiming to make the sport as widely accessible as possible in a fun and safe environment.

The initiative was first announced by the ISU in September, billed as a festival to celebrate ice skating.

Registrations were left open until the day prior to World Ice Skating Day in a bid to maximise participation, and organisers said they have received "a truly overwhelming response".

New Zealand was the first country to celebrate the Day with activities in Auckland, Botany and Dunedin.

Earlier this week, the ISU confirmed a partnership with Planet Ice to open the 14 rinks it operates in the United Kingdom.

Events around the world included free skating lessons for kids and beginners, coaching sessions on skills and injury prevention for amateurs and skating exhibitions.

The International Olympic Committee took part in celebrations through its 'The Olympic Games' Twitter profile, including asking followers to name their favourite figure skating performance in Olympic history.

The Best World Ice Skating Day Award to mark celebrations are set to be announced on February 20 2023.

ISU President Kim Jae-youl expressed hope that World Ice Skating Day would lead many participants to "discover a love for skating and embrace the values of inclusiveness and diversity that the ISU aspires to".