a quick guide to winterlude

A Quick Guide to Winterlude 2016

Sick of the winter blues? Turn that frown upside down, because Canada’s winter celebration is finally here! Winterlude, North America’s largest winter festival, runs from January 29 to February 15 right here in the nation’s capital. Winterlude is a family-friendly festival that attracts tourists from all across the world and entices Ottawa residents to bundle up and head downtown to take part in the party. The action takes place all month long, but things really pick up on the weekends. We’ve put together a quick guide with everything you need to know about Winterlude.

The Rideau Canal

Winterlude action is centred around the Rideau Canal, which is transformed from a beautiful summer boating route into the world’s largest skating rink in the winter. The Rideau Canal Skateway runs from Hartwell locks at Carleton University to the Chateau Laurier, a distance of 7.8 kilometres. You can start at any point on the Skateway, passing iconic Ottawa landmarks like Dow’s Lake and Lansdowne Park. Take part in Winterlude festivities like the triathlon, pond hockey tournament, or Annual Bed Race. And of course, everyone can make time to stop for a hot chocolate and Beavertail! Admission is free, and skate rental is available for a small fee.

Confederation Park

Downtown Ottawa’s Confederation Park (at Laurier/Elgin) transforms into the Crystal Garden during Winterlude, and it is where you can find the ice sculpture competition. Incredibly talented ice carvers flock to Ottawa, turning ordinary blocks of ice into breath-taking works of art. The Crystal Garden is magical at any time, but it becomes even more special after dark as coloured lights illuminate the ice creations. Admission is free!

Jacques-Cartier Park

Across the river in Gatineau, Jacques-Cartier Park is home to the Snowflake Kingdom, North America’s largest snow playground. There is a giant snow slide, kicksledding, zip lines, dog sleds, a kids’ play zone, and so much more. Bring the kids to meet Winterlude’s cuddly mascots, the Ice Hog family! Admission is free, but please note that Jacques-Cartier Park is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The OLG Sno-Bus Shuttle Service

There is a free shuttle bus services linking the main Winterlude sites on weekends and Family Day (February 15), provided courtesy of OC Transpo and STO.

Please note: Almost all Winterlude activities are weather-dependent. For example when the weather is above 0°C, the Rideau Canal Skateway may be closed to skating for safety reasons. CBC maintains an updated map of ice conditions on the Rideau Canal.

For more information, visit the official Winterlude website. For up-to-the-minute updates, don’t forget to check the Winterlude Facebook page or Twitter before you head out.