Living so close to Canada’s capital, there’s no better way to celebrate winter in all its freezing cold glory than to visit our nation’s capital and take part in Winterlude.
Winterlude is an annual free winter festival in Ottawa and Gatineau, Quebec with three main attraction areas – The Rideau Canal Skateway, The Crystal Garden in Confederation Park, and The Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park.
Skating, snacking, sliding and stew cook-offs await, so I donned my warmest and stepped out into the elements.
The first stop was at Ottawa’s famous Byward Market to check out their 23rd Annual Winterlude Stew Cook-Off! A ten dollar entry fee arms you with a bowl and spoon and 24 different competitor stews to try.
While noshing on my favourite bean and smoky tri-meat stew, I ran into Ottawa’s Mayor, Jim Watson. The whole city gets involved in Winterlude and he came down to show his support by sampling the contenders.
Next stop was a short walk to The Crystal Palace to see some amazing ice sculptors participating in the One-Block Challenge, where international competitors are tasked with creating a masterpiece with one block of ice.
The Garden is also a tasty place to sample some Canadian treats, watch the Olympics on the giant screen and participate in the interactive exhibits. CBC has a photo area where you can hold the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch!
Dream. Come. True.
Channeling my inner Clara Hughes, I headed down to the mouth of The Rideau Canal Skateway. Ontario’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, celebrating its 44th season as the world’s largest outdoor skating rink at 7.8km. I joined the hundreds of others skating along the frozen water, taking in the sights of Canada’s capital.
What could be more Canadian than this?!
If you like outdoor 4 on 4 hockey, the Beavercup Pond Hockey Championship is played on the Dows Lake side of the canal. Some of the team’s costumes alone are worth the trip down. Cut offs paired with a Canadian Tuxedo jacket were my favourite.
Across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec is the final official event location. Inside the beautiful Jacques-Cartier Park is the Snowflake Kingdom. Bring your snowpants and sense of adventure because here you can hurl yourself down giant ice slides, check out Scandinavian Kicksleds, and careen down icy hills in giant inner tubes while stuffing your mouth with poutine, maple syrup candy and chocolate chaud!
It’s not just cut-offs and plaid at Winterlude.
Mirari Studio and Ottawa Fashion Week teamed up with the stunning Museum of Civilization to present ‘Designing Winter Haute Couture’. A fashion show held in the museum’s grand ‘Canada Hall’, featuring Canadian designers and artists who use Canadian winter as their muse.
I have never felt more Canadian (or saturated with maple syrup).
Thank you Ottawa for showing a girl a great time.
M Fab eaver hug