What to do at Winterlude from an Ottawa Native | St. Lawrence University

What to do at Winterlude from an Ottawa Native

Chelsea De Luca

Every year for the past 40 years, the beautiful city of Ottawa has hosted Winterlude, an enormous winter festival held in February, this year from the 2nd-19th. Winterlude hosts any winter activity you can possibly think of, and with Ottawa being such an easy drive from campus, there is no reason not to visit! As an Ottawa native, I have been lucky enough to attend Winterlude since before I could walk, so I have compiled a list of the top activities it has to offer.

1. The Rideau Canal Skateway

The Rideau Canal is formally recognized by Guinness World Records as the World’s Largest Naturally Frozen Skating Rink, spanning 7.8 kilometers (4.8 miles). Access to the skateway is free and frequent, making it easy to hop on and off wherever you may need to.  

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.  Also, you have the option to rent skates if you don’t have any yourself!

2. Food

The Beavertail is a Canadian delicacy. Consisting of fried dough in the shape of a beavertail and offered with an immense variety of toppings, having a Beavertail should be at the top of your snack list. A Beavertail with a hot chocolate is the ideal combination to warm up after a long day of skating. Also, the Beavertail huts line the skateway, so you aren’t even required to take your skates off to eat one!

Recommendation: Although there are tons of incredible Beavertail flavors, cinnamon sugar is the classic favorite.

Next, when in Canada… eat maple! A very close second to the Beavertail is maple taffy, which is both delicious and fun to make. Maple syrup is boiled and poured over snow to solidify while you roll a popsicle stick up to create your own taffy-pop.

Recommendation: Take off your mittens before eating because taffy gets incredibly sticky incredibly fast.

3. Snowflake Kingdom

From immaculate wood carvings, to aerial acrobatics, to dogsledding, to massive snow slides, the magical Snowflake Kingdom looks like a scene out of Frozen. There is something for everyone as the list of activities is almost endless.

Tip: If you plan on going down the slides, don’t wear your favorite pair of pants as they will get snowy and wet. To get the full list of all Snowflake Kingdom activities, click here!

4. Ice Sculptures

Professional ice sculptors congregate in Ottawa from across the world for the International Ice-Carving Competition. You will not believe these exquisite sculptures are made out of ice, especially at night when they are alight with colorful lights, seemingly making the sculptures come to life.

5. Weekend Events

Opening weekend hosts the Winterlude Triathlon featuring athletes who run, ski and skate. The following weekend consists of the Ice Dragon Boat Festival for only the second time in North America. Finally the Accora Village Bed Race, where participants race decorated hospital beds across the ice to raise money for charity, takes place during the third weekend.

Along with all the scheduled events, there are also outdoor DJs playing music throughout the Byward Market on weekend nights and different mascots and entertainers roaming about the city, so get out of Canton for the weekend! Take the short drive even further up north and experience something you will not be able to find anywhere else.