The 150th anniversary of Confederation is at the heart of the winter celebration!

Winterlude, the Capital’s winter celebration, is held in Ottawa–Gatineau each February. It was created in 1979 to celebrate Canada’s unique northern climate and culture.

Skate on the world’s largest skating rink, check out the ice carving competitions or enjoy yourself in a huge winter playground surrounded by majestic snow sculptures. The Rideau Canal Skateway, which winds its way through downtown Ottawa, is the world’s largest skating rink.

Grab your skates and explore the Rideau Canal Skateway! In winter, the historic Rideau Canal becomes the world’s largest skating rink. The ice extends 7.8-kilometres and runs through the heart of downtown Ottawa.

Activities on the Rideau Canal Skateway during Winterlude:

  • Winterlude Triathlon
  • Annual Bed Race
  • Ice Dragon Boat Festival ─ NEW in 2017!
  • and more!

The theme for this 39th edition of Winterlude is “Celebrate Canada in Winter.”

A wide range of activities-reflecting both the Capital Region, and Canada as a whole, will be presented at three official sites. Snowflake Kingdom in Gatineau’s Jacques-Cartier Park will let visitors experience Canadian landscapes through fun winter activities, such as zooming across the Park on a mega-zip line, sliding down super slides-including a new fifth slide named “Blizzard”-and finding their way out of a giant Canada 150 maze. The National Snow Sculpture Rendezvous is back by popular demand, and the public will be invited to vote for their favourite sculpture.

Crystal Garden in Ottawa’s Confederation Park is where the stage is set for an exciting start to the festivities. Canadian performers Karim Ouellet and Coleman Hell will lead the Kick-Off Celebration, starting at 7 p.m. on February 3. An accompanying laser show will wow the crowd on this opening night. The Sub-Zero Concert Series, including a special Canada 150 Signature Concert on February 11, will liven up the park on Friday and Saturday evenings (plus Sunday, February 19) with a variety of talented Canadian entertainers. Visitors will be able to see ice carvers at work during the 30th Crystal Garden International Ice-Carving Competition, part of the inaugural Canada Cup of Ice Carving, and vote online for their favourite ice sculpture in the teams category.

The Rideau Canal Skateway will once again host some of Winterlude’s classic activities, including the Winterlude Triathlon and the annual Bed Race. This year, the Canal will host the first ever Ice Dragon Boat Race in North America and the largest in the world. There will also be a wide range of activities presented by Winterlude partners at other venues around the region. Visitors are encouraged to make their way to the Winterlude official sites with the free OLG Sno-bus service.

Crystal Garden in Confederation Park, Ottawa

“Dare to Dream” carved in ice! Admire dazzling masterpieces in this enchanted garden and witness a fusion of art, ice and light! Ice carvers from around the world turn blocks of ice into stunning works of art. At night, special lighting turns ice-carved masterpieces into a breathtaking and mystical sight. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, renowned Canadian artists will energize Friday and Saturday evenings, plus the Sunday before Family Day! Some of the highlights include, the inaugural Canada Cup of Ice Carving, and majestic ice sculptures representing the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the Canadian Museum of Nature, and the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome

Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park, Gatineau

“Explore our Canadian Landscapes”-with the Ice Hog Family! Outfitted with larger-than-life snow slides and magnificent snow sculptures, Canada 150 Maze, Super Slides: snow and tube slides, Aboriginal Village, dogsledding, zip lining and musical bikes, and digital art projection on snow sculpture – MosaïCanada 150.

Rideau Canal Skateway

Celebrating 47 seasons of skating! Set in a UNESCO world heritage site, the world’s largest skating rink will host a variety of activities, so sharpen your blades for a unique Canadian outdoor winter experience.! During Winterlude, the Rideau Canal Skateway will be centre stage for several events, including, Hockey Day in Canada – Minor Hockey Shinny Hockey Game, the 1st Ice Dragon Boat Festival, the 34th Annual Winterlude Triathlon, and the 37th Annual Accora Village Bed Race

Programming Partners

For the 39th Winterlude, close to 50 programming partners have come together to offer a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities, including:

  • CrackupComedy Festival
  • Gatineau Winter Beerfest
  • Winterman Marathon and Marathon Relays
  • ByWard Market’s Annual Winterlude Stew Cook-Off
  • SNOWMANIA in the Glebe
  • The U.S.-Canada Relationship: 150 Years of Friendship & Cooperation
  • Techno Zap
  • Flying Snow
  • and much, much more, including a series of culinary experiences!

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About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.