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A Winterlude in Ottawa

Winter festival makes for a special seasonal celebration

Ottawa, Canada is home to the world’s largest outdoor skating rink, the 4.8-mile Rideau Canal Skateway.
Now in its 36th year, Ottawa’s Winterlude festival offers three weeks of the season’s finest entertainment, activities, and family-friendly fun. Taking place on weekends from January 31 to February 17, 2014, festival-goers can visit three main sites to take part in Winterlude’s many offerings: the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa, Confederation Park in Ottawa, and Parc Jacques-Cartier in nearby Gatineau, Québec.

The Rideau Canal Skateway stretches for 4.8 miles through downtown Ottawa, making it the world’s largest outdoor skating rink – and a utopia of icy fun! Stop in at warming huts and snack bar stands along the way to shake off the outside chill with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a delicious pastry.

At the Crystal Garden (aka Confederation Park), Winterlude programming includes the international ice carving competition. Be sure to plan an evening visit at some point – when darkness falls, the sculptures are illuminated and a DJ spins tunes outdoors to keep the party going.

Kids and families won’t want to miss Snowflake Kingdom (Parc Jacques-Cartier), where visitors can find their way through giant snow mazes and take a sweet ride down giant ice slides. Don’t forget to bring your snow pants!

Other Winterlude events include the Winterman races and marathons on February 16, as well as the Winterlude Triathalon on February 2, featuring a skate on the Canal, a cross-country ski and a run. At the quirky Bedzzz Race, teams build and decorate beds before pushing them across the ice to raise money for charity. The ByWard Stew Cook-Off brings dozens of restaurants from the ByWard Market neighborhood together to make and serve their best stews. Finally, the Beaver Cup Pond Hockey Championships allow four-on-four men’s and women’s hockey to take place on the Rideau Canal – a real treat, as the game isn’t usually allowed on the Canal.

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