Skate through the heart of Ottawa! True to Canadian form, the winter pushes our creative buttons for new and exciting ways to get outside and enjoy the snowy wonderland. This creativity produced what has now become an annual tradition: gliding 7.8km (4.8 miles) along the Rideau Canal Skateway! Change huts, snack stations and hundreds of skaters appear on the canal when the historic waterway freezes over during the winter. Experience this Canadian tradition with a cup of hot chocolate, sold at one of the on-ice shops, in hand. And no worries if you didn’t bring your skates, as they’re available to rent here.
- The Rideau Canal Skateway is maintained and operated by the National Capital Commission. It is open to skaters daily January through late February (weather permitting) and is free of charge – although donations supporting the Skateway’s maintenance can be made at boxes at various entry points.
- The Skateway stretches over 7 kilometres from downtown next to the National Arts Centre, south to Dow’s Lake Pavilion.
- On cold nights, workers drill holes in the canal ice and pump water onto the surface.
- Change huts and snack stations can be found at various locations along the canal.
- If you don’t have skates, you can rent them here; you can also rent bright red sleighs and push those who can’t skate themselves.
- On beautiful winter days, skaters by the thousands fill the canal.
- The first three weekends of February, the canal is the focal point for Winterlude, the Capital’s annual celebration of winter.
- Many Ottawans who live near the canal actually skate to work in winter.