Province/Territory: Ontario

Department of Canadian Heritage

  • 20-plus ice sculptures
  • 30 giant snow slides
  • 7.8 km outdoor ice rink

You don your toque, scarf and mitts and head outside to explore Winterlude. Your first stop is the Rogers Crystal Garden where ice carvers from around the world have transformed blocks of ice into glistening works of art. Then it’s off to Snowflake Kingdom—the largest snow playground in North America. The snow maze, the snow obstacle course, 30 giant snow slides, ice fishing—you try it all! Then you lace ‘em up and set foot on the world’s largest skating rink—the Rideau Canal Skateway. As you glide along, you take in the sites and fun-filled activities along this 7.8 kilometre sheet of ice. All that skating makes you hungry. You answer your grumbling stomach with a uniquely Canadian treat—a BeaverTail—a delicious, sweet pastry stretched to look like a beaver tail. What a fitting way to end your taste of wintertime in Canada.

Why you should visit
  • Learn the secrets to ice carving from the sculptors themselves and later vote for your favourite ice sculpture.
  • Head to Confederation Park at night and get your groove on to some great music.
  • Pose for a picture beside incredible, mammoth snow sculptures.
  • Watch as talented performers light up the Snowflake Stage.
  • Pick a team and cheer them on as squads from across the country compete in an outdoor pond hockey championship.
  • Treat yourself to another uniquely Canadian favourite—poutine—french fries smothered in gravy and cheese.
  • Stay warm surrounded by hundreds of revellers at an outdoor concert.

Weather

  • Ottawa's weather during the winter is brisk and snowy, yet the city shrugs it off transforming itself into a magical, winter wonderland with the highlight being the ever-present Rideau Canal Skateway. During the month of February, the average day time temperature ranges from -6°C to -14°C.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Visitor information
  • Winterlude is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, events that takes place in Ottawa. To ensure you have a place to stay, it is highly recommended that you book your accommodations well in advance of your visit.
  • Most of the festivities take place downtown.
  • Parking is at a premium during Winterlude, but some popular places to leave your car for skating on the canal include Carleton University near Dow's Lake, side streets along both sides of the Canal in Centretown, the Glebe and Ottawa South, and parking garages at the Rideau Centre and Byward Market.
  • A better bet for parking is to find a lot near an O-Train station, then take the O-Train to Carling. You'll be right across the street from Dow's Lake, and in range of the Sno-Bus shuttle to get to any other Winterlude site.
When to go
  • The flurry of fun that is Winterlude, takes place every year during the first two weeks of February.
Need to know
  • You can rent skates on the Rideau Canal Skateway.
  • What to wear? What to bring? Check out this handy Winterlude Packing List.
  • Ramps make the Rideau Canal Skateway wheelchair accessible. The heated changerooms and portable washrooms are universally accessible too.
Getting Here
  • The Sno-Bus is a free shuttle service linking Winterlude’s official sites: the Rideau Canal Skateway; Rogers Crystal Garden at Confederation Park; and Snowflake Kingdom, at Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau. OLG Sno-Bus stops are clearly indicated on Winterlude signs along the way.
  • If you fly into Ottawa and rent a vehicle, the drive from Ottawa’s Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW) into the city is approximately 25 minutes. You can also take public transit or a taxi into the city.
  • It's an easy drive from Montréal or Toronto and train travel is offered through VIA Rail.
  • View current highway & road conditions.