Two things: winter and New Years, always mark the beginning of Winterlude in Ottawa. The 29 year old tradition continues to grow every year and this year is no exception for the well known and loved Canadian winter festival, held in the country’s capital.
This year, Winterlude begins on Friday, February 1st and goes until Sunday, February 17th. That’s 3 weeks and 3 weekends of prime winter activity fun for local Ottawa-ians, as well as other Canadians and tourists from all over the world. And the best thing about Winterlude – is that almost all the activities are free!
Museums, art, cultural activities, institutions, events, and attractions are littered all over Ottawa and waiting for you to come and experience. Here are some highlights!
Skating on the Rideau Canal
As the biggest skating rink in the world, 7.8 km’s of Ottawa’s Rideau Canal is frozen over and ready for skating! Extending from the National Arts Center in downtown Ottawa to the Hartwell Locks historical site at Carleton University – the site will include a variety of activities including skating demonstrations, the 28th Annual Bed Race, the Winterlude Triathlon – and of course, skating open to the public. Facilities for sleigh and skate rentals, food, boot check, skate sharpening, rest areas, and changing huts are available all along the canal. Ice conditions are maintained and marked off daily.
Ice Sculptures in the Crystal Garden at Confederation Park, Sponsored by Casino du Lac-Leamy
Confederation Park is located in downtown Ottawa across from City Hall. This will be the site of the Casino du Lac-Leamy’s Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace will showcase ice sculptures that will take its visitors through the Arctic World. At night, the sculptures will be lit up. To celebrate Quebec’s 400th birthday, there will be a special sculpture devoted to Samuel de Champlain. The Ice-Carving Competition will take place Feb 1-3. The Ice-Carving Masters Showcase will take place Feb 7-9, and a Special Ice-Carving Exhibit will be on display Feb 8-17.
Snowflake Kingdom at Gatineau Jacques Cartier Park, Sponsored by Sun Life
Located next to the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec, this attraction is North America’s biggest snow play ground. It features 30 larger-than-life snow slides and forts! It is open throughout the festival except for Mondays and Tuesdays. Other shows, performances, and games will also take place.
Snowbowl Outdoor Amphitheatre, Sponsored by American Express
Located on the Rideau Canal Skateway near Rideau Street in downtown Ottawa, the American Express Snowbowl is an outdoor amphitheatre that is the venue for free shows and built for most weather conditions. Areas for spectators are set up on the ice surface, on the banks of the canal and on an adjacent hillside. The kick-off show on February 1 salutes the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City.
Taste of Winterlude
Between January 24th and February 10th, the Taste of Winterlude’s participating restaurants are offering special fixed price menus that will showcase the best of what those restaurants have to offer. There will also be events like a winter wine fair and a collaborative dinner with various chefs.
Great travel deals and family packages are available. You can get coupons, savings books, and free admissions tickets when booking with Ottawa Tourism. For more information on bookings, packages, ro Winterlude 2008, visit: http://www.ottawatourism.ca/en/winter/winterlude-23.html