Winterlude Visitors Guide

Winterlude, Ottawa
••• jvetterli/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

 

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Winterlude Overview

Winterlude is an annual winter celebration in Canada's capital city of Ottawa, Ontario, held over the first three weekends of February.

Winterlude is free to attend and particularly suited to families. Note that most activities are outdoors and include ice skating, snow sculpture contests, ice slides, tubing, dog sledding, concerts and more.

When is Winterlude?

Weekends, February 3 – February 20, 2017, including Family Day

Winterlude 2017 activities are held on on weekends between February 3 and February 20, and is open on Family Day.

Where is Winterlude?

Winterlude is hosted by Ottawa, Canada's national capital, which is about a 5 hour drive northeast of Toronto or 2 hours west of Montreal, Quebec. 

The many Winterlude activity venues are at various locations, including Confederation Park, Jacques Cartier Park, and the Rideau Canal Skateway and downtown Ottawa. Winterlude events and activities take place in downtown Ottawa. Event locations include the Rideau Canal Skateway, Jacques Cartier Park, Festival Plaza at Ottawa City Hall, and Confederation Park.

Winterlude Highlights

The Rideau Canal Skateway: Every winter, Ottawa's Rideau Canal becomes the The Rideau Canal Skateway and at 7.8 km (just under 5 miles) the world's largest skating rink.

Locals and visitors make the most of this frozen roadway in winter, using it both as a means of transportation and form of recreation.

In addition to skating, the Rideau Canal Skateway is the site for many other Winterlude events. For example, the American Express Snowball, an outdoor concert venue on the Rideau Skateway, hosts live music and other entertainment.

Live music and entertainment at indoor and outdoor venues

The Ice sculptures created at Confederation Park is one of the festival's biggest draws. 

Snowflake Kingdom at Jacques Cartier Park is a winter playground that offers horse-drawn sleigh rides, a snow maze and tobogganing.

Igloo building workshop.

Tips for Visiting Winterlude 

Ottawa is cold. Like, brain freeze, numbing cold with a wind that will brutalize any patch of skin that dares reveal itself to the elements. Dress accordingly and don't fool around about it: Water and wind resistant layers, proper boots, mitts, hat, etc. Here's how to dress so you don't wind up cold and miserable.

Take advantage of the free shuttle that transports people around the different locations. Activities are spread out over the city and not necessarily walkable. 

Don't miss trying a BeaverTail, an only-in-Canada pastry sensation, available at various stands around the city. 

Rideau Canal Skateway Fast Facts

  • The skateway generally opens in January/Feburary when the canal is sufficiently frozen and safe for skaters. Check Rideau Canal ice conditions.
  • Skate rental and sharpening and boot check are available.
  • Also available for rent are sleighs in which children can sit and adults can push along the canal.
  • Snack stands are located along the canal.
  • The skateway has wheelchair and stroller access points.
  • Check the Rideau Canal Skateway website for details.

Places to Stay

  • Official Winterlude hotels
  • Ramada Hotel & Suites Ottawa is centrally located in a quiet neighborhood and offers nice, clean, unfussy accommodation for Cdn$90 - 120.
    Address: 111 Cooper St. Tel: (613) 238-1331
  • The Business Inn is central - about a 10 / 15 minute walk to The Market / Parliament Hill or the Rideau Canal. The hotel used to be an apartment building so each room is equipped with a kitchen and eating area. The Business Inn has few frills but is especially convenient and affordable for families.

Places to Eat

Ottawa

  • Getting to Ottawa: Ottawa is in northeast Ontario, about a 6-hour drive from Toronto and 2-hour drive from Montreal. Ottawa also has an international airport.
  • Ottawa Tulip Festival