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Winterlude Returns to Ottawa and Gatineau – Here’s What You Need To Know

Let’s be honest, even though this season has its enthusiasts, winter is not a lot of people’s favourite time of year. The cold nights, the early sunsets and the constant shift between snow and freezing rain can put a damper on anyone’s mood. That why the National Capital Commission created Winterlude all the way back in 1979; to enjoy each other’s warm company during the long winter months.

Now the event proudly stands tall to be among the prestigious Ontario Signature Experiences and ranked as the 2019 Top 100 Events in Canada, averaging 600,000 visitors. Each year, along with the always popular tube sliding and skating, Winterlude offers a rich calendar of exciting events and activities for both locals and tourists to the area. Why not make a plan?

Here are a few ideas of what you can add to your schedule when attending one of our greatest events! For a full list of Winterlude events and activities, you can visit their website.


Ice Sculptures


When talking about Winterlude, it’s impossible not to mention all the ice sculptures that are going to be on display for the full 18 days. Whether we’re talking about just browsing the talent of Ottawa or if you want to check out the Winterlude International Ice Carving Challenge Jan. 31, Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 to see the craft up close and personal. Each year brings us a new realm of creative talent and art and this year will certainly be no different. In addition, on Jan. 31, Feb. 1 and Feb. 2, you can also check out the snow sculpting at Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau.


Butterflies in Flight


Let’s be honest, our winters can be a little unpredictable. We’ve had a pretty tame winter so far in Ottawa but that can change with a snap of mother nature’s fingers. But, not to worry! If you and your family or friends find yourselves shivering more than usual, you can find refuge at the Canadian Museum of Nature for their special Butterflies in Flight exhibition. With the butterflies freely flying all around you, you’ll quickly get that tropical feeling.


40th Accora Village Bed Race for Kiwanis


Yes, you read that right; a bed race. A grand total of 50 teams, each with four runners, race modified bed in heated 50-metre course. But that’s not all, there are also competitions for the best fundraising teams, the best costumes and the best decorated bed. All the funds raised from this event go towards supporting the Kiwanis Aktion Club and other Kiwanis Club of Ottawa’s projects and the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation. For more information, including registration, visit


Introduction to Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding


Think your kids have the potential to become the next Shaun White or Lindsey Vonn? All throughout Winterlude, at Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park, children between the ages of five to eight will have the opportunity to learn the basics of alpine skiing and snowboarding. All lessons are free of charge and will be under the supervision of professional and dynamic instructors


37th Winterlude Triathlon


Winter and health enthusiasts’ skating, sprinting and cross-country skiing will be put to the test with Winterlude’s annual triathlon on Feb. 1! Last year, with a couple of unforeseen weather conditions, the event had to be tweaked a tad to adapt the ski location, START/FINISH and even the order of events, but people still loved it, so it’s happening again this year. Distances include an 8km skate, 5-km run and a roughly 6km ski. Visit for more information on registering.


ByWard Market Winter Warm-Up Food Tour


After having so fun at Winterlude, you’re more than likely to get little famished. Wouldn’t be nice to be able to sample different types of food from different types of vendors? Well now you can with special food tours around the ByWard Market. Various specialties from local producers, food shops and restaurants will be made available along with history lessons of Canada’s oldest market. Interested? You can visit to purchase a ticket.


Winterlude’s Tug of War


Nothing like a good ole-fashioned game of pure brawn! Pit friend against friend and family versus family in a traditional game of tug-of-war. Want to see if you can come out on top? You can visit the Snowflake Kingdom at Jacques-Cartier Park to participate and try to earn the highest of bragging rights.


Zip Line


Hope you’re not afraid of heights! Want to see at the Snowflake Kingdom like you’ve never seen it before? You can soar right over the winter wonderland via zip line. Anyone taller than 42 inches and lighter than 225 pounds is eligible to give it a go.


Ottawa Winter Jazz Fest


All of these other events are terrific and will certainly give you your fill for the two and a half weeks, but, if you want to start Winterlude off right and with a bang, there’s no better way than the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival. Starting at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 31, jazz enthusiasts can enjoy melodies from The Larnell Lewis Band, Colin Stetson & Matt Gustafsson and Tin Men and The Telephone. For a complete list of the lineup, you can visit You can also check out the Winterlude Kick-Off Party the same day on Sparks Street, which will feature performances Sarahmée, DJ NDN and Virginia to Vegas.



by Kory Glover


Cover photo via Ross Dun

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