Experience the Ottawa Winterlude 2023
The Ottawa Winterlude 2023! A Canada travel tip in the east for winter. This is how I imagine winter to be. Frosty temperatures, lots of snow, frozen rivers and a bright blue sky where the sun's rays make the snow sparkle. We're lucky enough to experience the Ottawa Winterlude under optimal – albeit icy – conditions. With temperatures of -33° Celsius at night, both the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River are frozen. Snow and ice transform Canada's capital into a real winter wonderland. Perfect weather conditions to experience the Ottawa Winter Festival with the Canadians.
Admittedly, when we hear how low the temperatures drop in Ottawa, our hearts slip into our pants. And we wonder how we're going to survive the cold days in Ottawa. Thickly wrapped up in several layers of clothing, equipped with warm hats, scarves and gloves, we can hardly move. Thus the wind finds only a few surfaces to attack. The fact that you look like a Michelin man wiggling through the city doesn't bother anyone either. Because everyone who ventures out into the open looks the same.
What is essential in your suitcase?
- Tips for Canada in the winter - On this page we have put together tips on how to best prepare for Canada in winter. Here you will find recommendations on what belongs in your suitcase for a trip to the Winterlude.
- Our pick for winter boots for wide feet here.
- We loved our hand warmers * and foot warmers*. They kept our hands and feet toasty warm even in the coldest temperatures.
- Thermal underwear kept us warm too.
Celebrating winter in Canada at the Ottawa Winter Festival
The only thing we have to get used to is that as soon as we enter warm rooms, we first have to peel off most of our layers of clothing before we feel comfortable in the heated buildings again. We do that often. When the icy winds cut our cheeks too much, we look for a café or a shelter. There we can warm up our cold faces before continuing our exploration of the Ottawa Winterlude. We're not the only ones in the cafes. Hot chocolate, cappucino and hot apple cider are flowing in abundance these days. Best served with BeaverTails, a pastry quintessentially Ottawa and Ottawa Winterlude. Tongues of dough fried in fat, shaped like a beaver tail, are refined with sweet ingredients: cream, sliced bananas, Oreo crumbs or Nutella. These are available in stalls on the Rideau Canal or originally on Byward Market.
Ice Skating on the Rideau Canal at the Ottawa Winterlude 2023
Here's how Canadians do it: they roam the city with their kids and visit the venues where activities and events take place at the Ottawa Winterlude. They enjoy the winter weather and snow. We see children rolling in snowdrifts and their parents laughing as they watch their offspring play. Ice and snow? It's just part of winter here.
Lesley Carter from Bucket List Publications attended the Winterlude Festival with her family every year while living in Canada. She said: "Rather than fret about winter, let's find ways to celebrate it. Visiting festivals like Winterlude and Winter Carnival is the highlight of my year.”
Families come to the city to enjoy the Winterlude. There's the frozen Rideau Canal, which every year turns into a 7.8 kilometer long skating rink since the winter of 1970-71. You can reach the city center on skates from Dows Lake to Confederation Park below Chateau Laurier. In winter, Rideau Canal turns into a gateway to downtown Ottawa. Everybody uses it. And not just for fun: while cars are laboriously driving over snowy and slippery roads along the canal, skaters glide elegantly into the city on the frozen channel. It's an unhindered and quick way to get around in Ottawa in winter.
Discover, what you can do* in Ottawa
We recognize those who do this more often by the backpacks they carry on their backs. This is where they store the shoes they put on when they reach their destination in the city. There are huts on the canal at regular intervals where you can rent ice skates or put on your own. In addition to the shelter, there is always a kiosk that sells hot drinks and BeaverTails.
Travel Tips for Ottawa
What Competitions happen at the Winterlude?
Events will be held on the Rideau Canal during the Ottawa Winterlude 2023. When we visited the Winterlude, we watched the kilt skate. Hundreds of skaters in Scottish kilts slid down the Rideau Canal from 5th Avenue to the National Arts Center.
The Accora Village Bed Race is sure to be enjoyable, too. Costumed participants push decorated hospital beds over the frozen ice. Pagan fun for the whole family.
Another race is the Ice Dragon Boat Festival. In this, teams in Chinese dragon boats fight for victory on the frozen Rideau Canal in Ottawa.
How to Care for the Ice Rink on the Rideau Canal?
We learn from a representative of the National Capital Commission, how seriously ice skating is taken during the Ottawa Winterlude. The commission is responsible for the skating rink. Maintenance squads are working on the Rideau Canal night after night. They make sure that the morning ice is perfect for the commuters, who skate into the city. For this, they clear fresh snow from the ice, which would otherwise act as an insulating layer. At the edge of the Rideau Canal they drill holes in the ice. Through these, fresh water swells up from below and freezes overnight.
Thus, early risers, who skate on the ice, find ideal conditions for their journey into the city. Not every winter is the same, and temperatures are not always as low as they were during our visit. It sometimes happens that the channel can not be opened for skaters at the beginning of the Winterlude. On average, the skating rink on the river is open for 51 days. In 1971-72 the skating rink on the Rideau Canal was open for an amazing 90 days.
Ice sculptures in the Crystal Garden at the Ottawa Winterlude
The Crystal Garden is located between the National Art Center and Ottawa City Hall. This is where the Ottawa Winterlude is opened with a stage show and nightly outdoor dance party. Ice carving competitions are also held in the Crystal Garden. More than 675 blocks of ice are transformed into imaginative ice sculptures by ice carvers from all over the world.
- The Fairmont Chateau Laurier* offers good views of the Rideau Canal from the bridge in front of the hotel. At the Afternoon tea at Chateau Laurier you can also warm up after a visit to the Ottawa Winterlude.
- From the Lord Elgin Hotel* it is just a few steps to the Crystal Garden and the Mackenzie King Bridge. The departure point of the Sno-Coaches is also only a five-minute walk away. There is also a coffee shop where you can warm up with a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or a hot apple cider.
- The Westin Ottawa* is just as convenient. If you walk through the CF Rideau Center shopping mall, it takes you only five minutes to get to the Mackenzie King Bridge and a little more to the Crystal Garden. You can reach the Sno-Coach stop in 15-20 minutes on foot. After an event you can warm up in one of the restaurants in the Rideau Centre.
- You can find more accommodations in Ottawa via this link*.
Ice carving competitions at the Ottawa Winter Festival
There are various events in which the ice artists have to complete their works of different sizes within a certain time. The participants come from all over the world: alongside Canadians, there are French, Japanese, Iraqis, Latvians, Malaysians, Mexicans, Peruvians, Filipinos, Poles, Russians and Americans. One participant even comes from Mauritius.
There are several competitions: we follow the first one. The ice carvers have two hours to carve a figure out of a block of ice. When we first arrive in the morning, they are about to draw their figures on the ice blocks. An hour later, rough sculptures appear from the ice. But they are most beautiful in the evening and the next day, when they are polished and illuminated in the dark at night.
We discover true works of art: I like the kudu with its curved horns, the snowman with the big snowflake in his belly and the ballerina in the ice block. During the Ottawa Winterlude 2023 there will be more competitions, where ice carvers work larger blocks of ice during a period of up to 28 hours, spread out over several days.
The Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park
The largest snow playground in Jacques-Cartier Park is being created during the Ottawa Winterlude 2023 on the Quebec side in the city of Gatineau. Here's how it works: Snow sculptures are created, ice slides lure you to winter fun, and the audience gathers in front of the stage to watch the shows of the commentators on stage.
With the Sno-Coach to the Snowflake Kingdom
Access to Snowflake Kingdom from Confederation Park is via the free Sno-Coach, a bus service that connects Winterlude venues and runs every ten minutes. The main topic of conversation on our bus is – as one would expect – the weather and the cold. A family man traveling with his two children tells how he first visited Snowflake Kingdom years ago. "I've never frozen as much as I did then in my life," he laughs. His neighbor agrees: "Yes, today the winter clothes are much better' and he grins, cheeks flushed red. They don't seem to be lacking in fun, however.
We are at the Snowflake Kingdom in the morning, but there are already numerous families on site when we get there. It's all about active participation and having fun. Ice slides have been built into several snow hills, which children and their parents slide down with loud hoots. Without a base to sit on, mind you. Here you just sit on the ice and start sliding. There is the Glacier Slide for individuals, the Iceberg Slide for individuals or groups, the Chinook, where you slide down the mountain in large tubes, and the Kiddie Slide for the little ones.
The snow sculptures are still being made when we visit. Four three-dimensional sculptures are planned, two of which are complete when we visit, and two murals depicting the park's themes during our visit: The Year of Sport in Canada and the Bicentenary of Sir John A. Macdonald's Birthday.
The Ottawa Winterlude: a true Winter Wonderland
The Ottawa Winterlude 2023 is definitely one thing: great fun for young and old. Here you can really enjoy winter with all its facets: there is enough snow and ice. As soon as the sun shines, Canadians are out and about having fun in the snow and ice. The Winterlude is definitely a Canadian declaration of love for their winter, which we can understand very well after our visit. Winterlude is the Ottawa Winter Festival par excellence. If you've had enough of the winter cold and snow, you can warm up in the city's museums, for example in the National Gallery of Art.
Ottawa Winterlude Questions and Answers
How cold is Ottawa in winter?
Temperatures in Ottawa average -4°C during the day and -13°C at night. However, with the wind chill factor, it can feel significantly colder. During our visit to Winterlude in Ottawa, we experienced temperatures as low as -33C.
Where is Winterlude held in Ottawa?
There are three locations where most of the events take place.
- You can ice skate on the Rideau Canal. There are also cultural and live music shows.
- Ice carving competitions are held at the Crystal Garden, located between Ottawa City Hall and the National Art Center.
- Also on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River is the Snowflake Kingdom at Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau. This is a kind of winter playground for the whole family. Both places can be easily reached with the Sno-Coach.
When is Winterlude Ottawa 2023?
The Ottawa Winterlude will take place from February 3rd to February 20th, 2023.
Event date of the Ottawa Winterlude 2023:
The Ottawa Winterlude 2023 will run from February 3 to February 20, 2023.
The event program for 2023 for the Ottawa Winter Festival can be found under this link. It will be released in December.
Book your arrival here*. Ottawa also has its own airport.
Hotel for the Ottawa Winterlude 2023:
Here we have selected hotels, which are located best for the Winterlude within short walking distance to the venues. You will be glad to stay there.
Ottawa Tours and Excursions:
Ottawa City Tours and more * you can also book with our partner Get your Guide.
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We're also participating in the Before We Die blog parade about the most beautiful destinations in winter, We are also in the blog parade of Ms. Schweizer, the the most beautiful winter posts by bloggers examined. As in the blog parade My best winter report.
Tips for slow travel you can find here.
Source Ottawa Winterlude 2023: On-site research at the Ottawa Winter Festival. Thank you to Tourism Ottawa, Ontario Tourism and the Canadian Tourism Commission for supporting this trip. However, our opinion remains our own.
Text Ottawa Winterlude 2023: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline
Photo Ottawa Winterlude 2023: © Copyright by Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline
Video Ottawa Winterlude 2023: © Copyright by Petar Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline