Enlightened Venturer

Winterlude-Highlights of Ottawa’s Winter Festival

Canada’s Capital region comes alive during its winter festival. This year, Winterlude is celebrating 40 years of winter fun and timeless memories. The festival is from February 2-19, and it is packed with many things to do. Here are some highlights of the festival not to be missed.

Rideau Canal Skateway

Canada’s largest skating rink

Lace up your skates and get ready to glide along 7.8km (4.8 miles) of the world’s largest outdoor skating rink. The Rideau Canal Skateway is open before, after,and during WInterlude. It is used for fitness, fun,and commuting. The gliding on Ottawa’s historic Rideau Canal with the crisp winter wind on your face is a truly Canadian experience. If you do not have your own skates, there are rentals available.  Looking to buy your own ice skating gear?  I have reviewed some essential ice skating gear. During Winterlude, there are a few events not to be missed:

  • Winterlude Triathlon: The trialaton consists  of a 8km skate, a 8 km cross country ski, and a run for 5kn. UPDATE: This year the triathlon consisted of a 12km skate and a 5km run because there was not enough snow to cross country ski.
    Date: February 3, 2018 at 8:00AM
    Location: Dow’s Lake
  • Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival:Come watch the world’s largest ice dragon boat festival. This is the second year for this up and coming event. Around 100 teams registered to compete. The competition is so popular that registration was full by October 2017.
    Date: February 10, 2018 at 8:00AM and the awards ceremony will commence approximately at 4:00PM
    Location: Dow’s Lake
Crystal Gardens

This is the main hub of winterlude and is the place for the 31st annual International Carving Competition, entertainment, and tasty things to eat. The theme this year is “Winter Fun! Timeless Memories!”. Crystal Gardens is located at Confederation Park which is along Laurier and Elgin streets.

International Ice Carving Competition

  • The 31st Annual International Ice Carving Competition
    Come and see beautiful ice sculptures created by competitors from all over the world. The intricate ice designs are beautiful to see during the day, but even better at night with the enhancements of lights.
    Awards Ceremony is Feburary 4th at 5:00PM
    Location: Confederation Park
  • Public Ice Carving Challenge
    Were you inspired by the International Ice Carving Competition? If so, test your ice carving skills and compete at the Public Ice Carving Challenge. The top prize is $100.00.
    Date: February 10 from 11:30AM to 2:30PM
    Introductory workshop: February 10th at 10:00AM (You must register for the workshop)
    Location: Confederation Gardens
    Registration and more information
  • SubZero Concerts
    On Fridays and Saturdays there will a series of FREE concerts at the Circle K Stage. Some highlights are on February 2, there will be a percussion parade to kick off the music. The Parade will start at 7:00PM at Marion Dewar Plaza and will head to the Circle K Stage. On February 9th, Canada’s country sensation Aaron Pritchett will kick off the night at 7:30 PM and February 10th Montreal’s DJ Abeille will close out the night with her lively music with hip hop and electronic influences. Click here for a complete list of artists and performance times
Snowflake Kingdom

Come over to Jaques-Cartier Park and experience lots of fun and interactive activities for the whole family. Try a ride on a dog sled and then warm up to some samples from Tim Hortons. In addition, there are other activities such as giant games, super slides, and introduction to downhill skiing or snowboarding and much more.
Location: 350 Laurier Street, Gatineau, QC
Dates: February 2-19th
Additional information

Winterlude Treats

There’s nothing like taking a rest along the Rideau Canal Skateway to warm up with a hot chocolate, or get a sugary treat to give you a sugar rush to keep you going.

Maple Taffy

Maple Taffy at Winterlude

Pouring hot maple syrup onto clean snow to make taffy

It is so much fun to watch maple taffy being made. Maple is heated up to a boiling tempature. From there, the hot liquid maple is poured on clean snow with a wooden popsicle stick. The rapid change in tempature causes the warm fluid to quickly change to thicker texture that is similar to taffy. The only thing more fun than watching the taffy being made, is eating it!

The BeaverTail pastry is a truly ottawa treat. Although the menu has expanded, the traditional BeaverTail is an oval shaped pastry served warm with your choice of sweet toppings. Choose from lemon and sugar, or splurge and get chocolate, candies, and more. Don’t worry about the calories because you can skate it off!


Other Winterlude Highlights:
  • Mosaïvernals 
    Explore beautiful illuminated snow sculptures of mythical icons like fairies, gods, and goddesses. Over 30 sculptures made of snow to view. Sculptures are made mostly from master sculptors from Harbin,China.
    Dates: January 26-March 4
    Time: Dusk to 10:00PM
    Cost: $10.00 per person (Kids 12 and under free)
    Location: Jaques-Cartier Park South: 164 Laurier Street (Corner of Laurier & Saint Etienne Street)
    More infomaion
  • The 38th Annual Accora Village Bed Race for Kiwanis
    Metal bed frames are modified with wheels and other various decor. 50 teams will race along the designated road in hopes of winning. The teams consist of four runners and one rider. The rider is definitely not napping! Proceeds of the race go to The Kiwanis Club of Ottawa’s Projects and The Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation
    Date: February 17th
    Location: Dow’s Lake
    Time: 12:00PM to 2:00PM
    Registration and more information

The event will commence with a parade of beds. Spectators can pick out who they think will win. Racing begins at 1:00PM and there will be an after party at The Hometown Sports Grill located on 1525 Bank Street, Ottawa, ON K1H 7Z1

  • Go Canada Zone- Confederation Park
    Are you excited for the Winter Olympics? Cheer on your favourite Canadian athletes at the viewing lounge!
    Visit the CBC Radio Canada Tent to write a good luck message to send off to Canadian athletes. More information and hours of operation

Winterlude has many activities for people of all ages.  It is a wonderful way to get out  and have winter fun and make timeless memories. Be sure to get out and enjoy one or more of the many activities Winterlude brings.

2 thoughts on “Winterlude-Highlights of Ottawa’s Winter Festival

  1. Jóhann H. Ragnarsson

    It has been for a long time on my bucket list to go to Canada. It has been excellent links between Iceland and Canada, both history and real and honest connection. That has made a significant interest for me about Canada.

    The Ottawa’s Winter Festival looks a great place to go to and enjoy. I like the events a lot, notably the Crystal Gardens and the Mosaïvernals. Is the distance between the event easy walking?

    1. Loresa Novy Post author

      Thhere are many beautiful places to visit in Canada. I lived in Ottawa for many years , and Winterlude is one of the many highlights of the area.

      As for getting around, the festival is in two places. If you stay in the central part of the city  you should be able to get to the Crystal Gardens, ad have close access to the Rideau Canal.  However, there are some parts of the festival inn Gatineau, QC.  If you stay in Ottawa’s city centre, you will need to take some sort of transportation to   Gatineau, QC.

      I do hope you get to experience Canada soon!

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