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Edition 95, January, 2011

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Wold's largest skating rink

Join Canada’s Winter Celebration

Picture yourself skating on the world’s largest skating rink, gazing at remarkable works of art created by international ice-carving masters, playing on the continent’s biggest snow playground, and enjoying delicious fare prepared by some of the country’s best chefs…

All of these magical experiences and more happen in Canada’s Capital Region during Canada’s winter celebration, Winterlude. This family-friendly festival takes place each year during the first three weekends of February (the 33rd edition of Winterlude runs from February 4 to 21, 2011). Best of all, most of the activities are free! What better way to embrace winter in all its glory?

Let the fun begin!

This year, the celebrations start with the American Express® Winterlude Opening at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC) on February 4th at 7 pm. The artistic and musical multi-sensory experience will feature something for everyone including special museum programming, outdoor lighting effects, an interactive fire experience, amazing sound performances, a DJ dance party and, at 9 pm, a fireworks extravaganza to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada.

Other cultural organizations will also be offering programming throughout the festival, including the Ottawa Chamber Music Society, the Canada Science and Technology Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada.

Couple skating on the canal

Glide on the Rideau Canal Skateway

In winter, the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, turns into the Rideau Canal Skateway—the world’s largest outdoor skating rink, as designated by Guinness World Records, stretching 7.8 km (4.8 miles) through downtown Ottawa. (The full Canal stretches 202 km / 126 miles south to the city of Kingston on Lake Ontario.) This winter will mark the 41st season of skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway and it officially opens for skating when the weather and ice conditions are right (usually between early January and the end of February or beginning of March). Ice conditions are regularly updated on the Skateway’s official website.

Rideau Canal Skating at Night

Family skating on the canal

Everyone can enjoy the magical experience of gliding on the Skateway while gazing up at sites such Parliament Hill and the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel. Skating is the most popular activity (bring your own or rent some on location) but large rental sleighs are also available—adults and children alike can sit comfortably while being pushed over the ice. (Rental skates and sleighs are available at Capital Skates kiosks, located on the Skateway). Walking on the edges of the Skateway is also a popular choice.

Beaver Tails

Warming huts and snack bar stands are strategically located along the canal so you can reward yourself with a hot chocolate and a BeaverTail pastry. This tasty whole wheat pastry was created in Ottawa, so eating it on the frozen Rideau Canal is a must!

Ice Hogs on Elgin Street

Some of the activities you can do while on the Skateway during Winterlude include:

  • Learning to skate with professional coaches
  • Savouring creative dishes presented by culinary students at the American Express Lounge
  • Testing your skills at the Giant Tiger Interactive Hockey Zone
  • Admiring important art reproductions (in the open air!) at Portraits on the Ice presented by Library and Archives Canada
  • Taking part in or encouraging participants of the 28th Annual Winterlude Triathlon, the 31st Annual Bedzzz Race, and the 3rd Annual Great Canadian Beaver Cup Pond Hockey Classic
  • Enjoying interactive performances including heritage blacksmithing, and “Ghosts and Echoes of the Rideau Canal”: a musical collection of ghost stories, legends, folklore and re-enactments, by Parks Canada.

Winterlude Ice Sculptures

Winterlude Ice Sculptures at Night

Admire masterpieces at the Crystal Garden (in Confederation Park)

Located steps away from the Rideau Canal Skateway in downtown Ottawa, the Rogers Crystal Garden is home to the international ice carving competition. After dark, the sculptures become even more impressive when illuminated, and you can get your groove on as DJs spin tunes in the Rogers Crystal Globe (a giant inflatable bubble).

Winterlude Slides

Get active at Snowflake Kingdom
(in Parc Jacques-Cartier
in nearby Gatineau, Québec)

North-America’s biggest snow playground, the Sun Life Snowflake Kingdom, features giant snow mazes, ice slides, snow sculptures, obstacle courses, kicksleds, horse-drawn sleigh rides, live entertainment and more! There are even free introductory downhill skiing lessons for kids. Just don’t forget your snowsuits…

Children Eating Taffy

Savour Ottawa's Flavours with
Taste of Winterlude

Before and during Winterlude (from January 27 to February 21, 2011 ) you can learn more about Ottawa ’s culinary scene by participating in the Taste of Winterlude program. Various wine and food events and unique dining experiences cater to everyone’s tastes—think wine and food pairings, cooking demonstrations and chocolate tastings. Yum!

Book your Winterlude Getaway

Ottawa has a wide variety of accommodations to choose from, including bed and breakfasts that range from small to large and from urban to rural. They make the perfect base for exploring the city as well as the Winterlude festivities!

Need accommodations during Winterlude? Stay with a member of who belongs to a local Ottawa B & B association: Bed and Breakfasts Ottawa, or Ottawa Bed and Breakfast Network.

For more information and to book your Ottawa getaway, visit or call 1-888-OTTAWA-8.

The ETraveller content is provided by the association or tourism organization listed. assumes no responsibility for its accuracy or content.

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