Winter is the perfect time to celebrate Canadian arts, culture and history. The temperatures may be low but the spirits are high in these two great Canadian cities, with travellers from around the world visiting to get a taste of the True North during Winterlude and Carnaval de Québec. Learn more about Winterlude and Carnaval here!
There’s no better time to experience the winter season in Ottawa than during the Winterlude Festival. Winterlude has been celebrated in Ottawa and Gatineau for more than thirty years and almost 600,000 people take part in the festivities every year. The festival takes place over three weekends in February, from the 1st to the 18th. The best part is that most of the activities are free! Here are a few you definitely shouldn’t miss:
Skating on the Rideau Canal
During the winter months, the Rideau Canal is transformed into the world’s longest skating rink. The ice extends for 7.8 kilometers and runs right through the heart of downtown Ottawa. Don’t worry if you don’t have room to pack your skates – vendors are located all along the canal. There you can rent skates, warm up with some hot chocolate, or enjoy a delicious Beavertail (a must-do in Ottawa).
The Annual Bed Race
The Bed Race is great because it’s often hilarious to watch and it raises money for a good cause. The event is organized by the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa, a not-for-profit organization that is active in fundraising and community involvement. It begins with a parade showcasing the beds that have submitted by participating teams. The best decorated bed wins. Following the parade, there is a 50 metre race right on the ice. The beds must be built on wheels, which means you’ll be watching teams slipping and sliding to the finish line.
Located at Jacques-Cartier Park, the Snowflake Kingdom is the biggest snow playground in North America. You’ll find lots of winter activities there, including toboganning, rock climbing and obstacle courses. You’ll meet the Ice Hogs there, who only come to visit during Winterlude. Visiting the Snowflake Kingdom also gives you another excuse to eat more Beavertails.
This is one of the oldest Winterlude activities and really represents what winter in Ottawa is all about. The triathlon includes an 8 kilometer skate across the Rideau Canal, cross-country skiing for 5 kilometers, and a 5 kilometer run. Relay teams of 3 people can also participate. Go cheer them on!
Ice Sculpture Competition
Ice carvers from around the world come to Winterlude to participate in the Ice Sculpture competition. Check out the Crystal Garden at Confederation Park – you’ll see for yourself the amazing things they can do with blocks of ice. They look especially impressive at night, when they are illuminated by coloured lights.
Don’t forget to read more about Carnaval de Québec: A Winter Classic!