Loving winter outdoors and staying toasty warm inside. Welcome to Winterlude.
An idea with a snowball effect. Canada’s National Capital Commission (NCC) created Winterlude in 1979 to celebrate Canada’s unique northern culture and climate. Organizers were inspired by their ancestors who would gather to enjoy each other’s company during the long winter months.
Since then, Winterlude is held in Ottawa-Gatineau every year in February. They have added new activities over time, such as the famous Bed Race and the Waiters and Waitresses on Ice Challenge. There is also Trotting on the Rideau, a horse race on the Rideau Canal Skateway, which kicked off the very first Winterlude in 1979.
Now considered the flagship event of the winter tourist season in Canada’s Capital Region, Winterlude is proud to be among the prestigious Ontario Signature Experiences, as well as the Top 100 Events in the United States and Canada 2021 according to BizBash. On average, 600,000 visitors take part in the festivities. And, year after year, Winterlude runs smoothly thanks to the precious help of 800 volunteers.
In collaboration with many partners, it offers a rich and varied program. Must do winter pleasures, such as tube sliding, skating and admiring snow and ice sculptures share the spotlight with a cultural program. Family friends can discover Canada’s winter at Winterlude sites in Ottawa and Gatineau from February 3-20.
There’s fun to be had for all ages. At Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park enjoy sliding down mounds of snow and ice castles, as well as other activities, such as eating and listening to live music. At Spark Street see the luminous interactive structures and join Winterlude for the National Ice-carving championship on Opening Weekend. Ice sculptures remain standing as long as they last. Enjoy the Minoshkite (music to your ears) show presented by Elmnt FM and Red Music Rising, also on Opening Weekend. You can also join the mini powwow and artisan fair to learn more about Indigenous cultures. Then, but-of-course, skate on the world’s largest natural ice rink, The Rideau Canal.
Established in 1826, the ByWard Market is one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets. All year round, day and night, the area buzzes with activity. Here discover the pretty shops and many restaurants and visit the National Gallery of Canada. At the ByWard Market during Winterlude, you can take in the fun with traditional activities like horse-drawn sleigh rides, have a foodie experience, admire interactive art installations that transform public spaces, and much more.
During the three weekends of Winterlude, Ottawa and Gatineau become the stage for activities that showcase Canadian winter culture and traditions. Thanks to the participation of partners, indoor and outdoor activities are offered through different themes. In short, there’s something for everyone.
Access to Winterlude sites is free. Many activities are free of charge, while others may have a fee.
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