Ottawa Winterlude Festival 2024: Ice Sculptures and More

Winterlude - Canada travel tips

Experience the Ottawa Winterlude 2024

The Ottawa Winterlude 2024! A Canada travel tip 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 that felt like -33° Celsius at night, both the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River were frozen over. Snow and ice transform Canada's capital into a real winter wonderland. Perfect weather conditions to experience the Ottawa Winter Festival with Canadians. The Ottawa Tourism Authority invited us as travel bloggers to experience the Ottawa Winterlude.

3 Ottawa Winterlude Videos


Best hotels for the Ottawa Winterlude

  • 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's just a few steps to the Mackenzie King Bridge. 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. Walk through the CF Rideau Center shopping mall and you'll only need five minutes to Mackenzie King Bridge and the Rideau Canal. After an event you can warm up in one of the restaurants in the Rideau Centre.


Ice sculptures at the Ottawa Winterlude in previous years


Admittedly, when we hear how low the temperatures are in Ottawa, our hearts sink into our pants. And we're wondering how we're going to survive the cold days in Ottawa. But wrapped up in several layers of clothing and wearing warm hats, scarves and gloves, we can hardly move. Thus the wind only finds a few areas to attack. The fact that you look like a Michelin Man wobbling through the city doesn't bother anyone. Because everyone who ventures out into the open looks the same. After my research year in British Columbia, during which I also spent several months in Canada during winter, this is the second time I have experienced winter in this country. This time, however, we are in the east of the country. Different conditions prevail there.


What is essential in your suitcase?


Sir John A. Macdonald
Sir John A. Macdonald


What competitions are there at the Ottawa Winterlude Festival?

When we visited Winterlude a few years ago, we watched the kilt skate. Hundreds of skaters in Scottish kilts glide down the Rideau Canal from 5th Avenue to the National Arts Center.

Winterlude events

  • Ice skating, culture and live music shows at the Rideau Canal Skateway.
  • Ice sculpting competitions on Sparks Street.
  • Snow activities for children, ice skating and games at Jacques-Cartier Park.
  • Carriage rides, foodie experiences and art installations on the Byward Market.
  • You can find all Winterlude events here.


Ottawa Winterlude Locations

Trip map created using Wanderlog, a road trip planner app on iOS and Android


Ottawa Winterlude Locations and Events

Various events will take place at these Winterlude locations from February 2nd to 19th, 2024. Click on the individual location links and you will be taken to the events that you can attend at these locations.


Celebrate winter in Canada at the Ottawa Winterlude 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 again in the heated buildings. 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 cafés. Hot chocolate, cappucino and hot apple cider flow 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.


Ottawa Winterlude: ice sculptures and ice skating
Skating on the Rideau Canal is also on the Ottawa Winterlude 2024

Ice Skating on the Rideau Canal at the Ottawa Winterlude 2024

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.

How long the Rideau Canal Skateway will be open depends on weather conditions. The skateway is usually open from January to March. This means that this time coincides with the Ottawa Winterlude. However, in recent years the opening times have been shorter than usual in some years.

Reasons for the Rideau Canal Skateway's opening hours to vary

How long the Rideau Canal Skateway will be open depends on several factors, including:

  • The water temperature: The channel must be frozen at least 30 centimeters thick for the skateway to open. During mild winters, the water temperature may drop below this value, which may result in a delay or even cancellation of the season.
  • The snow conditions: The canal must be free of snow to be safe to navigate. During snowy winters there may be delays in opening the skateway.

The length of time the Rideau Canal Skateway is open varies from year to year. You can find an overview of the history of the Rideau Canal Skateway here. It is advisable to check current opening times before visiting the skateway. For us, this meant checking the conditions at the Rideau Canal Skateway daily during our visit to Winterlude in Ottawa. This way you can also find out when the canal is open to ice skaters.



Rideau Canal and Chateau Laurier
Rideau Canal and Chateau Laurier at the Ottawa Winterlude


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.

This means that early risers who venture onto the ice will find optimal conditions for their journey into the city. Not every winter is the same, and the temperatures are not always as low as when we visited. It sometimes happens that the canal cannot be opened to ice skaters at the beginning of the winter season. On average, the skating rink on the river is open for 51 days. The longest time you could skate on the Rideau Canal was in the winter of 1971-72: an astonishing 90 days. In 2023, however, the Rideau Canal remained closed to ice skaters. It was too warm for that.


Ballerina in ice at the Ottawa Winter Festival
Ballerina in Ice - One of the ice sculptures during our visit to the Crystal Garden - See, what is made at the Ottawa Winterlude 2024


Ice carving competitions at the Ottawa Winter Festival

The highlights of the Ottawa Winterlude are the ice carving competitions. These vary from year to year. When we visit the Winterlude, there are various events where the ice artists have to complete their works of different sizes within a certain time. The participants come from all over the world: when we visit the Ottawa Winter Festival, there are French, Japanese, Iraqis, Latvians, Malaysians, Mexicans, Peruvians, Filipinos, Poles, Russians and Americans as well as Canadians. One participant even comes from Mauritius.

During our visit there are different competitions: we can follow the first of them. The ice carvers have two hours to carve a figure out of a block of ice. When we are there for the first time in the morning, they are in the process of drawing their figures on the ice. An hour later, the rough sculptures are already finished. But they are at their most beautiful in the evening and the next day, when they shine in the dark, polished and illuminated by colors at night. We discover real works of art: I like the kudu with its curved horns the best, the snowman with the big snowflake in his stomach and the ballerina in the block of ice.

Snow sculpture in the Snowflake Kingdom at the Ottawa Winter Festival
Snow sculpture in the Snowflake Kingdom - Ottawa Winterlude 2024


The Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park

The largest snow playground in Jacques-Cartier Park is being created during the Ottawa Winterlude 2024 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.

The Snowflake Kingdom

We take the bus to Snowflake Kingdom on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. The main topic of conversation on our bus is – as would be expected – the weather and the cold. A father traveling with his two children tells us how he visited Snowflake Kingdom for the first time years ago. “I have never frozen as much in my life as I did back then,” he laughs. His neighbor agrees with him: “Yes, today winter clothing is much better", and he grins with his cheeks frozen red. They definitely don't seem to be lacking in fun.


The Glacier Slide at the Ottawa Winter Festival
The Glacier Slide - Ottawa Winterlude 2024


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.


Snow sculpture in the Snowflake Kingdom - Who comes to the Winterlude 2020?
Snow sculpture in the Snowflake Kingdom - Ottawa Winterlude 2024


The snow sculptures were still being created when we visited. Four three-dimensional sculptures are planned, two of which were completed when we visited, as well as two wall facades that show the themes of the park during our stay: The Year of Sports in Canada and the bicentenary of Sir John A. Macdonald's birthday. However, the topics vary from year to year.


Petar filming on the Ottawa River - Lust for Winterlude 2020
Petar filming by the Ottawa River during our visit to the Ottawa Winter Festival


The Ottawa Winterlude: a true Winter Wonderland

The Ottawa Winterlude 2024 is definitely one thing: great fun for young and old. Here you can really enjoy winter in all its facets: there is enough snow and ice. As soon as the sun shines, Canadians get outdoors and have fun in the snow and ice. The Winterlude is therefore a declaration of love from Canadians to 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 the National Gallery of Art.

Weather forecast for your visit to Ottawa Winterlude


What else you can do in Ottawa


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 -33°C.

Where to warm up at Winterlude in Ottawa?

With temperatures plummeting to -33° C like we experienced at the Winterlude in Ottawa, you need somewhere to warm up on the go. These places don't have to be boring. On the contrary, they play a large part in ensuring that we remember Winterlude as a great experience. Here are our tips:

  • Take a break for apple cider, hot chocolate, coffee or tea, and Beaver Tails at the restaurants or cafés near the Winterlude venues (see below for a list of all suitable restaurants).
  • Plan a tea time in Zoe's Lounge at Chateau Laurier.
  • Go on a food tour of Ottawa with stops in restaurants, shops and cafés in Ottawa. Along the way, you can warm up while getting to know Ottawa's local specialties.
  • Visit one of Ottawa's museums. We were in the National Gallery of Art and in the Canadian Museum of History. Visits are also possible in the Parliament or at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
  • Take advantage of the heat tents at Jacques Cartier Snowflake Kingdom for a hot drink.
  • Go on a shopping spree at the Rideau Center.

Where is Winterlude 2024 taking place 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.
  • The city hosts ice carving competitions as well as illuminated interactive structures.
  • 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 2024?

The Ottawa Winterlude will take place from February 2rd to February 19th, 2024.

What restaurants are close to Winterlude Ottawa?

  • Zoe's Lounge at Chateau Laurier for an elegant tea time
  • Wilfried's at Château Laurier, 1 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON K1N 8S7
  • 1 Elgin Restaurant, 1 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5W1
  • Grill 41, 100 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5K8
  • Little Victories Coffee Roasters, 44 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 1C7
  • D'Arcy McGee's, 44 Sparks St., Ottawa, ON K1P 5A8
  • The Shore Club, 11 Colonel By Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9H4
  • Daly's Restaurant, The Westin Ottawa, 11 Colonel By Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 5X2
  • Bento Sushi at the Rideau Center (1st Floor), 50 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON K1N 9J7
  • Metropolitain Brasserie Restaurant, 700 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 1K4
  • Milestones, 700 Sussex Dr Unit 201, Ottawa, ON K1N 1K4

Have you visited Ottawa Winterlude yet?

What did you like best about it? Do you have any tips for visitors that you haven't discovered in our article yet? What else should you know if you want to visit Winterlude in Ottawa? Be sure to share your tips with us in the comments to this article.

Travel Arrangements:

Parking at the airport

Here you can reserve your parking space at the airport.

Event date of the Ottawa Winterlude 2024:

The Ottawa Winterlude 2024 will take place from February 2nd to February 19th, 2024. You can find out more about the current status of the Rideau Canal Skateway via this link.

The Event program for 2024 for the Ottawa Winter Festival can be found under this link.


Book your flight, bus or train here*. Ottawa also has its own airport.

Car Rentals:

Cheap Car Hire - Book Fast and Easy! *

Hotel for the Ottawa Winterlude 2024:

Here we have selected hotels that are most convenient for Winterlude access with short routes to the venues, which you definitely need in Ottawa's winter cold. This saves you long journeys in the icy cold.

Ottawa Tours and Excursions:

Book Ottawa City Tours and more * with our partner Get your Guide.


Ottawa travel guide in English

These guides are also useful for travelers from other countries as they contain the most comprehensive tips for Ottawa.

If you purchase via a link marked *, we receive a commission, which we use to run this blog.


Winterlude Ottawa
Click on the photo and then save the Ottawa Winter Festival “Winterlude Ottawa” on Pinterest


Do you also know:


With this article we are also taking part in Ms. Schweizer's blog parade 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 2024: Research at the Ottawa Winter Festival. We would definitely like to thank Tourism Ottawa, Ontario Tourism and the Canadian Tourism Commission for supporting this trip. However, our opinions remain our own.

Text Ottawa Winterlude 2024: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline
Photo Ottawa Winterlude 2024: © Copyright by Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline
Video Ottawa Winterlude 2024: © Copyright by Petar Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline

Ottawa Winterlude Festival 2024: Ice Sculptures and More

Monika Fuchs

Monika Fuchs and Petar Fuchs are the authors and publishers of the Food and Slow Travel blog  TravelWorldOnline. They have been publishing this blog since 2005. TravelWorldOnline has been online since 2001. Their topics are trips to Savor, wine tourism worldwide and slow travel. During her studies Monika Fuchs spent some time in North America, where she - partly together with Petar Fuchs - traveled to the USA and Canada and spent a research year in British Columbia. This intensified her thirst for knowledge, which she satisfied for 6 years as an adventure guide for Rotel Tours and then for 11 years as a tour guide for Studiosus Reisen around the world. She was constantly expanding her travel regions, but curiosity still gnawed at her: "What's beyond the horizon? What else is there to discover in this city? Which people are interesting here? What do they eat in this region?" As a freelance travel journalist (her articles have appeared in DIE ZEIT, 360° Canada, 360° USA, etc.), she is now looking for answers to these questions as a travel writer and travel blogger in many countries around the world. Petar Fuchs produces the videos on this blog as well as on YouTube. Monika Fuchs from TravelWorldOnline is among Germany's top 50 bloggers in 2021. Find more Information about Monika and Petar Fuchs here.

13 thoughts too "Ottawa Winterlude Festival 2024: Ice Sculptures and More"

  1. Dear Monika, dear Petar,
    so beautiful these sculptures look, I think that's too cold for me :-)
    Quite apart from that, I still love the natural beauty of nature a whole lot more.
    But it still looks cool :-)
    Best regards, Katja

    1. Dear Katja,

      Natural ice magic is also available in these temperatures in Canada, and not too short. We were already very impressed by the ice sculptures, especially because we saw them emerge from simple blocks of ice within a few hours.

      Best regards,

  2. Hello you two,
    even when reading it was already cold, that sounds incredibly interesting. I could easily imagine traveling to Ottawa in February. But we did that with your luggage? 23kg are not much for winter clothes.

    1. Hello dear Ina,

      Admittedly, Winterlude is an icy pleasure, but also one that you will not forget. We like to think back to it. That was no problem with the luggage. We had a lot of thin shirts to pull on. The warm sweater or thick waistcoat we wore on arrival and return travel under the coat. And when it got really cold, we still had it the hand and foot warmerswho have really done us great service in this cold.

      Best regards,

  3. Hello Monika and Petar,

    I've never heard of the Ottawa Winterlude! But it's getting cold in Canada, I think right now! It really only helps to warm clothes and to drink something warm every now and then.
    The sculptures look impressive too, wow!

    Thanks for the nice report including video. Very tempting!

    Best regards,

    1. Dear Barbara,

      we had heard and read about Winterlude again and again for years, until finally we ventured ourselves. And what can I say: it inspired us. Despite the freezing temperatures, we traveled a lot in Ottawa and watched the events and, above all, the great ice sculptures again and again. It's amazing what you can do with a simple ice block.

      Best regards,

  4. Dear Monika, dear Petar,
    what a great and captivating contribution. I especially liked the ice sculptures (the kudu is really awesome). My son would like the kilometer-long skating rink. How -33C feel, I can not really imagine. We had -25 here, but is that comparable?
    Best regards,

    1. Dear Charnette,

      I'm glad, if you like our article about the Winterlude. That was a great experience that we will certainly not forget. The -33 ° C in Canada probably feels different than the -25 ° in Germany. The reason is that it is dry cold in Canada. Of course it's cold. That's why we have the Tips on how to protect ourselves against the cold, used by our Canadian hosts. Therefore, we were well prepared for the icy temperatures.

      Best regards,

    1. We could not envision that either, before we got there, Azlin. But it was not too bad, since we were in a city with lots of place to warm up again. We spent a lot of time exploring the Canadian winter in Ottawa.

  5. Fascinating how to create such filigree works of art. Ottawa is not around the corner now. If you know such an outdoor art event in the D / A / CH region, please let us know.

    Greetings from Stuttgart Silke & Thomas

    1. Hello Silke and Thomas,

      I do not know such an event here in the D / A / CH region. In Ottawa it was definitely very impressive. When I hear something, I like to get in touch.

      Greetings from the snowy Rupertiwinkel,
      Monika & Petar

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