Eight ways to celebrate winter

Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Two young women (one wearing glasses) dressed in fur-lined parkas standing in front of a wall with the words “Snow Festival des Neiges.”

Enjoy uOttawa's 10th Annual Snow Festival (February 6-10), then check the Gazette’s list of winter activities to make the most of your free time during Family Day (February 20) and Reading Week (February 20 to 24).

By Linda Scales

Although many Ottawans choose to spend the winter hibernating, many others actually want to frolic outdoors. Fortunately, the city boasts a full range of activities to suit every taste and beat the mid-winter blues.

#1 Festivals

The University of Ottawa’s 10th Annual Snow Festival (February 6-10) offers plenty of indoor and outdoor events. Why not try your hand at igloo building, sample a traditional sugar bush meal, and enjoy a performance by Inuk singer Elisapie Isaac.

Make the most of Winterlude (February 3-20), Ottawa-Gatineau’s world renowned winter festival. Speed down the ice slides at the Snowflake Kingdom, a giant snow park custom-built in Jacques Cartier Park for these three weeks of fun. Marvel at the sculptures created for the international ice-carving competition or visit the Canada C3 exhibit at Confederation Park. Bring your dancing shoes (or even your yoga mat) to the Winter Brewfest (February 17-19) at Lansdowne Park.

#2 Skating

The 7.8 km-long Rideau Canal Skateway is open until early March, weather permitting. You can rent skates, or have your skates sharpened, at three kiosks on the canal, but before venturing out, check the ice conditions. Regardless of the canal’s condition, there are several other locations to skate, including the Sens Rink of Dreams, the Lansdowne Park Skating Court, Rideau Hall, and local indoor and outdoor rinks across the city.

#3 Skiing and Snowshoeing

North America’s longest and oldest Nordic ski event, the Canadian Ski Marathon (February 10-12) – starting in Lachute, Quebec, and ending in Gatineau Park – is not a race but an annual cross-country ski challenge for skiers of all ages and skill levels. In addition, the National Capital Region boasts great facilities for downhill and cross-country skiing, as well as snowshoeing in Gatineau Park and in Ottawa’s Greenbelt.

#4 Sledding

All you need is a snowy hill and a piece of plastic, cardboard or a toboggan. Make the outing even sweeter by bringing a thermos of hot cocoa. This interactive map will guide you to some of Ottawa’s best hills.

#5 Hockey

Hockey fans will appreciate the four-day Stanley Cup Tribute (March 15-18), marking the 125th anniversary of the Cup. On March 16, Governor General David Johnston will welcome the public to view the Stanley Cup at Rideau Hall. Get your photo taken with the Cup beneath the official portrait of Lord Stanley, Canada’s sixth governor general and donor of the original cup.

#6 Comedy

On February 11, for the third consecutive year, the Crackup Snowmania Challenge will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most snowmen built in one hour. Register to take part individually, or with family or friends!

The Challenge is part of the Alterna Savings Crackup (February 7-18), which brings some of Canada’s best comedians to Ottawa to raise money for mental health organizations in the nation’s capital.

#7 Culture

The National Gallery and many national museums offer free admission on Thursday evenings.

#8 Sightseeing

Take a tour of Parliament and enjoy the spectacular views from inside the Peace Tower.

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