So you’ve come to Ottawa, Canada’s beautiful snowy capital to take in all the joy and pleasures of the Canadian winter season. While you’re visiting, why not start your winter experience with a staple Canadian activity and go ice skating? Whether you’re brand new to the sport of skating or you’re a seasoned expert, Ottawa has a charming ice rink that will delight any level of skater. Head out to discover some of these great and in some cases, world famous skating spots!
Rideau Canal Skateway: The 7.8-kilometre (4.8-mile) Rideau Canal Skateway is Ottawa’s most famous skating rink, as it is designated by Guinness World Records to be the world’s largest skating rink. Glide along the ice at your own pace from downtown Ottawa all the way to Dows Lake and take in scenic views of the city as you go. And don’t worry about getting chilly along the way! If the weather gets frightful, just pop into one of the Skateway’s heated cabins. Cozy, warm and equipped with washrooms, these cabins are a great place to rest and change into your boots and/or skates. The Skateway is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week from roughly January to late February or early March. It is completely accessible and admission is free. If you didn’t bring skates with you on your trip, there’s no need to worry. Skate rentals are available on the Skateway itself in front of the National Arts Centre (NAC) and at the Fifth Avenue rest stop. Sled rentals are also available for non-skaters.
Sens Rinks Of Dreams: Located in front of Ottawa City Hall on Laurier Avenue in Ottawa’s downtown core, the Sens Rink of Dreams (named after Ottawa’s beloved NHL hockey team the Ottawa Senators) is great at any time of day, but it is at its most magical after dark when it is lit up with multi-colored LED lights. Glide along the smooth surface and if you need a break, sit down in the rink’s cozy changing cabin or at one of its picnic tables. The rink is open seven days a week in the winter and admission is free. Also, due to its refrigerated surface, the rink offers a longer skating season that stretches roughly from mid-November to mid-March. The Sens Rink of Dreams is a great option if ever the Rideau Canal Skateway is closed due to weather. This rink is also a great place to warm up with a hot chocolate and a BeaverTails pastry. Ottawa is where this delicious, deep fried delicacy was born in 1978! These whole wheat pastries are available in Ottawa’s ByWard Market neighbourhood year-round, but there is nothing more Canadian than enjoying one on a pair of skates in the winter. BeaverTails pastries can also be found on the Skateway. New this year: Skate rentals and skate sharpening is available at the Rink of Dreams on weekends.
Lansdowne Skating Court: Located in Lansdowne, just south of Ottawa’s downtown core, this refrigerated outdoor skating rink is the newest in the city! Like the Sens Rink of Dreams, Lansdowne’s Skating Court offers a longer skating season that stretches from roughly mid-November to mid-March. Free open skating sessions are available daily or you can learn how to skate through one of its skating programs. Skate rentals are not available at this site. And if you need a break, visit the rink’s BeaverTails concession stand for a delicious pastry and a hot chocolate.
Rideau Hall: If you have your own skates, visit the historic 1870s skating rink at the Governor General of Canada’s residence, located on Sussex Drive. Established in 1872, this charming outdoor skating rink offers free public skating sessions on Saturdays and Sundays from mid-January to mid-March. Skate to your heart’s content then rest and warm up in a cozy wood-heated changing cabin. During the mandate of Canada’s third governor general, the Earl of Dufferin in 1872, many skating parties were held at Rideau Hall by the governor general himself and his wife, Lady Dufferin!
You can also experience ice skating in Ottawa at any time of the year, as the city is home to several indoor arenas that offer affordable public skating sessions, skating lesson programs and skate rentals. Visit the City of Ottawa’s website for more information or to find an arena near you.