Get ready for Winterlude!
After the cold snap we just endured, having a fun way to celebrate winter is coming just in time. Marking its 41st year, Ottawa’s iconic Winterlude festival is right around the corner. Beginning Friday, Feb. 1 and running weekends until Family Day on Feb. 18, there are a ton of things to do and see. Best of all: most of it is free!
All the events we’ve grown to love are back, of course — skating on the Rideau Canal, sliding at Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques Cartier Park, snow and ice sculptures — but there are also new activities and some you may not have realized before.
So, aside from the biggies, here are 10 ways to enjoy Winterlude this year:
1) Market wagon rides: Head over to William Square and enjoy complimentary wagon rides in the ByWard Market. Rides are first come first serve, and generally last about 15-20 minutes. The tour isn’t a set route and takes you through places in the ByWard Market you may have not yet explored.
2) Server games: Watch the hilarity unfold as ByWard Market servers race around tables, balancing full trays while wearing oversized ski-doo suits and snowshoes; busboys test their skills wearing oversized mittens. Cheer on your favourites from winter patios and seating areas along Clarence Street.
3) Zip lining: Get your thrills as you zip line over Snowflake Kingdom, an experience you won’t want to miss, with a spectacular view to boot. There is a charge for this activity.
4) Wanderlust: This is an exciting and prize-filled scavenger hunt that runs through Winterlude’s festival grounds. The hunt will enlighten participants on everything related to Canada and winter, as well as provide fun and exploration for all ages.
5) Snowmania in the Glebe: Legend has it that snowmen ruled the world during the last ice age, or so Winterlude’s organizers say, and each year in the heart of winter they plot their return. The Glebe thwarts these plans by building a brigade of friendly snowpeople to save all of humanity. Snowmania is a show of snow for the whole family.
6) Pow Wow: Immerse yourself in the culture of First Nations people and learn the histories of the dance and drum. The event features First Nations drumming, dancing and food, with seven styles of dance in full regalia.
7) Gatineau Winter Beerfest: The eighth annual festival invites you to discover even more Quebec and Ontario beers. Find various activities, workshops and opportunities to discover spirits such as the sour beer and oyster bar station. Takes place in the Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of History.
8) Ice Dragon Boats: The winter version of Ottawa’s popular dragon boat races is back on the canal. Cheer on the competitors and enjoy a unique experience.
9) Bed races: A little goofier than the ice dragon boat races, the annual bed races on the canal are a treat. Fifty teams race modified beds in heats down a 50-metre course. There are also competitions for the best fundraiser, best costumes and best decorated bed.
10) Triathlon: This great event is one of the oldest Winterlude activities and exemplifies what winter in Canada’s Capital is all about — skating on the canal, coupled with cross-country skiing and running.
Want to find out all the other events and activities? Check the Canadian Heritage website.