Winterlude is the Canadian way of honoring the cold winter season. This family event is held in Ottawa, Ontario, Gatineau and Quebec, Canada annually on three consecutive weekends from 5th February to 21st February and shows that even freezing winter can be fun. It one of Ottawa’s most important events.
Festival of Winterlude began in 1979 and is the brain child of the National Capital Commission. It attracts millions of visitors every year as winter sets in and the entire area is covered with snow. The Rideau Canal is the major crowd puller.
This 202km long canal freezes to form the world’s largest skating rink. Its 8 km stretch from downtown Ottawa to Carleton University provides a perfect venue for figure skating, skate races and relays. Skis and sleighs are available on rent from the venue. Rest areas, changing shacks, and food stalls are other facilities provided to the visitors along the canal.
Besides skating activities, snow sculpture competition is also a part of this winter festival. 13 Teams from all over Canada participate in this competition and are given 43 hours to create amazing snow structures. The Confederation’s Park is the venue of this competition.
Children can enjoy themselves at the Snowflake Kingdom in the Jacques-Cartier Park. It is the largest snow playground in North America and offers activities like the enormous snow slide, snow maze, tobogganing, dogsled and horse sleigh rides, and the Ice Hog Theatre. Ice Hogs are the official mascots of the festival.
Live music and fireworks are other features of the Winterlude. Except for the Snowflake Kingdom, the rest of the venues are open for public on weekdays as well. 1.6 million People attended this festival in 2007 setting a new record. The Winterlude Festival is organized by Department of Canadian Heritage.