Your Guide to Winterlude

For the past 39 years, the beautiful city of Ottawa has hosted Winterlude, a giant winter festival held during the month of February. This year, it is being held from the 3rd through the 20th. A historic and incredible festival, Winterlude consists of skating, eating, sledding, live music, and so much more! What’s more, 2017 is the 150th birthday of Canada, so the residents are stepping up their game. As an Ottawa native, here is my guide to navigating Winterlude and getting the most out of the experience!

First and foremost: The Rideau Canal!

If you’ve never heard of the Canal before, at 7.8 km (or 4.8 miles), it is the world's largest skating rink, located right in the heart of downtown Ottawa. It is free and open all day and night, so you can skate the whole length or only a mile, the choice is yours! There are entrances all along the sides, so wherever you are you can hop right on. Also, if you get hungry or thirsty, there are huts that line the ice to provide you with a quick snack or beverage!

Pro Tip: Wear small boots or shoes and bring a backpack to put them in while you’re skating so you don’t have to carry them with you because that gets annoying very quickly. Also, you can rent skates if you don’t have any of your own.

Also important: Food. The Beavertail may be the most famous Canadian delicacy, and for good reason. This treat of fried dough is available in different flavors and is perfect when paired with a hot chocolate after you have been skating all afternoon and need something to warm you up! This sweet treat can be found in the huts along the canal, so you don’t even have to take your skates off to eat one.

Recommendation: Although there are tons of great flavors, the OG cinnamon sugar will always be the crowd favorite.

Again, on the scale of Canadian delicacies, an extremely close second to the Beavertail is maple taffy! Maple syrup is boiled and then poured over snow so that it will solidify while you roll a popsicle stick up to create your own taffy-pop. It is extremely delicious and rolling up the taffy is half the fun.

Pro Tip: This makes a great opportunity for a boomerang video on Instagram!

Next up, Snowflake Kingdom! And it’s just as magical as it sounds; Snowflake Kingdom looks like it came right out of the movie Frozen. Here, you can go down massive snow slides, attempt to find your way through a snow maze, look at some incredible snow sculptures, zipline across the park, go dogsledding, and watch a ton of different shows and presentations! The options are nearly endless.

Pro Tip: If you plan on going down the slides, don’t wear your favorite bottoms because they will get wet. (To get the full list of all Snowflake Kingdom activities click here).

Finally, there are Weekend Events hosted over the 3 weeks of Winterlude. New this year is the first Ice Dragon Boat Racing Event in North America! On February 17th and 18th, on Dow’s Lake (attached to the Canal), people will race boats on ice! In addition, there is the famous International Ice Sculpture Competition, outdoor concerts every weekend, the Polar Hero Winter Obstacle Race, and much more. So get out of Canton for the weekend! Take a little drive up North and experience something you will not be able to find anywhere else. For a complete list of all the events happening this Winterlude 2017, click here!