Time to sharpen your skates – Winterlude 2012 has hit Canada’s Capital, officially opening today with fireworks and entertainment to launch the festivities! Winterlude runs Feb 3rd to 20th 2012, but with good winter conditions, the canal will stay open as long as the temperatures are cold enough.
Skating along the historic Rideau Canal (UNESCO World Heritage Site) on the world’s largest skating rink – 7.8kms of winter wonderland in the heart of downtown Ottawa – Winterlude is a draw card for locals and tourists alike. Grab a handful of cinnamony goodness with the classic beavertail as you skate the canal. For the uninitiated – the Beavertail is a pancake like delicacy that is deep fried and coated in sugar and cinnamon. I also see people adding a chocolate spread – but my favourite remains the original sugar cinnamon combination. Like at the fall fairs, the Beavertail is one of the flavours of the season!
Along with the eatery huts dotted along the canal, there are change rooms and warming huts with benches to change from your street shoes to ice skates. They really have thought of everything here!
Looking for a little more out of the festival – the 2 weeks are full of activities for everyone! Check out the official website for times, hotels and tickets for all the festivities! Be sure to check out the classics – at Confederation Park – the ice sculpture competition is well underway with stunning displays. The sculptures are open day and night – with amazing lighting to really make them shine in the evening. The 32nd Annual Accora Village Bed Race will be on Saturday February 4th 1-3 pm for fun and games and hearty competition. Prizes for best fundraiser, as well as best costumes and bed decorations will be handed out. The Winterlude Tri is also on Saturday – with an 8km skate, 5 km ski and a 5 km run – we really know how to embrace winter here in the Capital!
Plenty to do for the kids as well with play structures and Inukshuk building at Jacques Cartier Park across the River in Gatineau. There is also a snowflake kingdom and winter obstacle course – military style, to keep the family entertained.
Getting around is easy – the Snobus is free on weekends to transfer you between the events, running along the Rideau Canal skateway to Confederation Park in Ottawa and the Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau. Let’s Go Ottawa has some excellent packing tips for Winterlude.
What do I remember most about skating along the canal? I remember being captivated by stories of people skating to work and into town. Every year, we would head into the city to go for a skate at Winterlude – beavertails certainly topping the list of favourites – nothing like getting out for a skate in the cold wintery air, stopping for a Beavertail half way down the canal. As an adult, I love getting out with friends after work for a skate and fajitas down at Dow’s Lake! We haven’t done it every year, but it has been the site of many birthday celebrations and excuses to get out on a dark winters night for dinner and drinks. We are spoilt here in Ottawa – such a great place to get out and enjoy winter! The canal is always full of people. So, if you are in the area, why not sharpen your skates and get out there – there is so much to see and do at Winterlude!
Rosy cheeks and great big smiles – I am off for a skate on the canal. See you at Winterlude.