Winter's Wonders Never Cease What makes Ottawa unique in the winter?
This winter marks the 43rd season of organized ice skating on the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway, which snakes 7.8 km (4.8 miles) through downtown Ottawa—kids skate to school, people skate to work along its surface! It’s the equivalent in size to 90 Olympic-sized ice rinks, giving it the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink.
For your convenience, kiosks and warming huts are strategically located at several locations along the 24-hour, free-to-use Skateway. You can rent skates or even a sleigh (if you’d rather be pushed over the ice) as well as buy a hot chocolate or famous BeaverTail pastry. Verify ice conditions here.
Skating on the Canal is the centrepiece activity of Winterlude, celebrating its 35th edition this year February 1-18, 2013. Each year, during the first three weekends of February, this celebration of Canadian winter offers outdoor fun, culinary treats and family-friendly activities. Best of all, most activities are free, including enjoying the ice sculptures at Confederation Park or playing on the ice and snow slides at Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau!
What’s new for Winterlude 2013?
- A gala opening event with the 2012 Canadian Culinary Champion, Chef Marc Lépine of Ottawa’s Atelier restaurant, and featuring outdoor pyrotechnics.
- A commemoration of 50 years of Canada-Korea diplomatic relations (featuring over 1,300 lanterns from the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival) and the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s passage through this region.
- The Sparks Street Mall welcomes WinterBrewed, a new craft beer festival with fantastic seasonal craft brewed beer (including hot beer), artisanal food, fun activities for kids and an on-site sugar bush on Canada’s oldest pedestrian mall.
- A new official site outside Ottawa City Hall, home of the new Rink of Dreams, offering skaters a refrigerated surface.
- The 30th annual Winterlude Triathlon: an 8km skate along the Rideau Canal, followed by a 5km cross-country ski race, then a 5km run.
Up for even more ice skating? For a grand and historic feel, make your way to Rideau Hall, the home and workplace of every Governor General of Canada since Confederation. An outdoor skating rink was built on the site in 1872 by Lord Dufferin (Governor General at the time) and gala skating parties were often held there. Nowadays, the rink offers free public skating on Saturdays and Sundays from January to March, as long as the weather cooperates! Tours of the residence, or a walk around the spacious (79 acres) grounds, are also great options.
If your interests tend more to downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or tobogganing, you’re in luck! Many city parks offer groomed cross-country ski trails as well as tobogganing hills. For downhill enthusiasts, Ottawa is like an urban resort, with challenging hills under an hour’s drive from downtown.
Just 15 minutes’ drive from downtown across the Ottawa River lies Gatineau Park, with 200km (125 miles) of groomed trails that are some of the continent’s best! You’ll get a great workout in beautiful surroundings with the added bonus of heated shelters along the way. Two annual cross-country events are hosted in the Park in February: the Canadian Ski Marathon and the Gatineau Loppet.
|« Back to What's Up In Ottawa||Next Story »|