In the greater Ottawa-Gatineau region, we're having a SNOW PARTY thanks to Winterlude with activities taking place in both cities. During three weekends, from the end of January to mid-February, many locations on each side of the Ottawa River will adopt a festive setting and offer a happy bunch of fun outdoor activities for everyone.
Snowflake Kingdom For The Eternal Young Hearts
On the Outaouais side, Jacques-Cartier Park which is located across from the National Arts Museum on the Ottawa River and next to the Museum of History, welcomes the Snowflake Kingdom, the ideal place to go for families and young-at-heart adults. You can enjoy ongoing activities such as live snow sculptures by professionals as well as giant snow sculptures, tube sliding, ziplining, the Chinook Alcove (public area sculpted in snow where you can take a break) as well as a food zone where you can warm up and eat.
Local Gastronomic Discoveries
Winterlude is also known for delicious culinary discoveries thanks to tasty culinary events that are taking place in several locations on both sides of the river. You can take part in the ByWard Market Winter Warm-Up Food Tour, culinary experiences at the Fire & Ice Winter Festival on Bank Street, free pancake medallions at Marion Dewar Plaza's Enbridge Cabin, Women & Whisky Masterclass at Kildare House on Chapel Street, Winter Indigenous Culinary Event at the Canadian Museum of History, and Gilmour Street's Smore & Candy Bar at the Fire & Ice Winter Festival.
Ice Sculptures Will Dazzle You
One of Winterlude's most popular events are the three ice carving challenges on Sparks Street. You will love to wander on this animated pedestrian street right in the middle of downtown Ottawa while admiring the ice sculptures and enjoying a hot chocolate or a beaver tail.
Longest Outdoor Skating Rink In The World
Winterlude is all about skating on the Rideau Canal. Rideau Canal is a 7.8 km long outdoor skating rink with five stations located around 1.5 km from one another and set-up to make outdoor skating fun and comfortable. The first station is located at NAC, in Ottawa centre-town, right next to Rideau Centre and Confederation Park, and is served by OLG Sno-Bus free shuttle and pay public parkings. The NAC Station marks the start -or the end- of the rink and offers heated cabins, concession stands, as well as skate and sleigh rentals.
The second station is at Ottawa University at Main Street. In addition to heated cabins and concession stands, you will find an outdoor picnic area with fire pits. This station is served by the OLG Sno-Bus shuttle, but there is no public parking close by; finding a parking space in the streets of that neighborhood is not easy.
The next station is at Fifth Street and also offers heated cabins, concession stands and outdoors picnic tables and fire pits, and is served by the OLG Sno-Bus shuttle. This station is the largest and offers skate and sleigh rentals, washrooms, Red Cross and other public services. Many activities are scheduled there throughout Winterlude. It's location is right next to the Glebe and Landsdown Park where you can find pay parking. You can also find free parking spaces on the streets, but the limit is often for 60 minutes.
The two following stations are located at the beginning and end of Dow's Lake. Dow's Lake is another well animated area with the Ice Dragon Boat Festival and other theme-related activities.
Gatineau Park, What A Wonderful Winter Playground!
Ok, but Winterlude ends on mid-February. What next? Well, take note that Rideau Canal and Snowflake Kingdom slides will remain opened to public if weather conditions allow for it, hopefully until mid/end of March.
On some of the trails, you can find heated shelters where you can sit and eat close to the wood stove. Healy and Herridge shelters are accessible by foot, snowshoe, fat bike and ski from parking lots P15 and P16, located just a few km from us. Keogan, Shilly Shally and Huron shelters are easily accessible by foot or ski from parking lot P10, close to Camp Fortune. You should bring along a little snack if you plan on taking a break in one of the shelters. Some people even bring their fondue kit. How much better can it get!
Also, you must know that Gatineau Park is opened to outdoors enthusiasts as long as there will be snow on the ground, often until April. Two trails are groomed especially for walking: Sugarbush Trail (1.1 km) right next to Gatineau Park Visitor Centre on Scott Road and Lauriault Trail (4.2 km) at MacKenzie King Estate, and they are totally free. A dozen other trails are groomed for crosscountry sky, snowshoeing and fat biking, not to mention the parkway, which is closed to cars for the whole winter season and where you can enjoy classic and skate (freestyle) skiing. However, one must pay a daypass to use the trails, but this expense is totally worth it because the trails are so well maintained and groomed.
Enjoying A Moment With Friends In A Heated Shelter
So, are you ready to play outside? It's the best way to fall in love with winter and make February your new favorite month! :-)