In many cities across North America, winter is a time when people stay indoors, but not so in Ottawa. Winterlude is the city’s annual homage to all things ice and snow. This year, it runs from January 29 to February 15.
Ottawa’s annual winter party floods the canal, the world’s longest skaing rink, with revellers, ice carvers dazzle with their crystaline creations, and kids race down slides at Canada’s largest snow park.
RIDEAU CANAL SKATEWAY
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Site of Canada, the Rideau Canal turns into the world’s largest skating rink when temperatures drop. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people skate its 7.8 kilometres, from Dow’s Lake in the south end of the city to the Mackenzie King Bridge in the north. Chalets and stove fires along the route offer the opportunity to warm up, while BeaverTails pastries and hot chocolate keep skaters fueled. Skates can be rented at several locations along the Canal.
• The Winterlude Triathlon on January 30 challenges athletes to compete in an 8km skate, an 8km ski, and a 5km run. Think you’ve got what it takes? Sign up at winterludetriathlon.ca. • Amateur hockey teams play four on four at The Great Canadian Beaver Cup Pond Hockey Classic from February 12 to 14 at Dow’s Lake. • Fifty teams of racers decorate themselves and a bed, then careen down the Canal in the annual Accora Village Bed
Race on February 6.
Dozens of sparkling ice sculptures, carved by masters from around the world, stand proudly on display at Confederation Park. You can watch those artists at work during the 29th annual International Ice-Carving Competition, which takes place over opening weekend, January 29 to 31. The finished products remain on display until the end of the festival. After nightfall, the sculptures take on a magical life of their own when they’re backlit by multi-coloured lights.
• The Winterlude Opening
Ceremony, which includes DJs, a massive dance party, roaming buskers, and maple taffy, takes place on January 29.
• Flora and Fauna, a series of light art installations inspired by Canadian nature, illuminate the night for the duration of the festival.
North America’s largest snow playground awaits the whole family at Jacques-Cartier Park during Winterlude. The kids (and the young at heart) can speed down the park’s 20 snow slides and check out snow sculptures themed after Canada’s North. Kicksledding, skiing lessons for kids, play structures, and mazes are all part of the Snowflake Kingdom’s charm.
Above and left: Ice sculptures at Confederation Park Below: Skating on the Rideau Canal