Frosty fun in Ottawa No end of winter delights to experience
Winterlude is the crown jewel of winter activities in Ottawa—it’s celebrating its 36th edition this year, after all—but there are plenty of other fun activities throughout the season.
- Winterlude runs January 31 through February 17 and most activities are concentrated on the weekend. Visit Confederation Park (aka the Crystal Garden) in downtown Ottawa for the magnificent ice sculptures and some fun evening DJ events. Gatineau’s Jacques Cartier Park (aka Snowflake Kingdom) is a big hit with families (and the young at heart): enjoy snow and ice slides, kids’ entertainment and an introduction to winter sports. Each weekend brings new programming, from bed races to pond hockey to a winter triathlon (ice skating, cross-country skiing, running).
- Skating along Ottawa’s Rideau Canal Skateway is on many people’s “bucket lists”—not much can compare with sliding along its world-record 7.8km (4.8-mile) surface. The ice must be at least 30cm (1 foot) thick to open and conditions are explained with a colour-coded system (green is best). Check conditions online or follow @NCC_Skateway for info
- NEW! The folks at Ottawa Rickshaws offer 15-, 30- and 60-minute guided sled tours of the Skateway for those who can’t (or who choose not to) skate!
- The Rink of Dreams, located just outside Ottawa City Hall, provides a free ice skating experience that is not dependent on the weather, as the surface is refrigerated.
- The historic (established in 1872) skating rink at Rideau Hall, the home and workplace of Canada’s Governor General, offers free public skating each Saturday and Sunday between January 6 and March 9, weather permitting.
- Gatineau Park and the Greenbelt surrounding Ottawa offer great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails. There are downhill skiing options in Gatineau Park as well. These are great ways to get out and explore the natural beauty of the area.
- The Canadian National Figure Skating Championships take place in Ottawa January 9-15, 2014, 100 years after the very first national competition of men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance events. The event serves as a qualifier for the 2014 Olympic Games.
- NEW! The Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association hosts Dine Wine Wintertime, a fundraising wine and food event on January 30, the night before Winterlude begins. Tasty treats from hotel chefs are complemented by wines from around the world.
- Interested in winter but afraid of the cold? Visit the Snow exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (soon to be renamed the Canadian Museum of History) to learn about how snow has shaped Canada—and Canadians—in this fun, interactive exhibit. You’ll stay warm doing it! The exhibit runs through September 28, 2014.
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