Since winter is here to stay and you need to keep your babes at bay, we thought that a guide to the capital’s famous winter festival would be fitting. With three weeks of fun-filled winter activities, we’ve got you covered on what to wear, where to go and other tips during the 36th edition of Winterlude.
With nearly 600,000 people in attendance each year, it’s no wonder Winterlude is the place to be in February. The festivities kick off on Friday January 31st at 7 p.m. in Confederation Park with Winterlude’s Great Winter Ball and conclude on Monday February 17th. From skating to snacking and ice sculptures and sliding, there is plenty for the whole family to enjoy.
WHAT TO WEAR
This winter in Ottawa, we’ve seen temperatures drop to the near 40s with the wind chill and days with sunshine and single digits, so you can never be too cautious when dressing your little ones for a day outside. The key here is layering. If it’s too hot, they can take something off and when Jack Frost comes nipping, they can bundle back up.
This week at all our Fab store locations and online, you can save 25% our winter gear stock. Pick up a pair of mimiTENS for little fingers and a pair of Stonz Booties to keep tiny toes toasty. If you’re looking for a little more coverage from the cool winter air, try a 7am Enfant Le Sac Igloo. Bundle your babes up in the cozy bunting bag while they’re in a sleigh, stroller or carrier.
WHERE TO GO
There are three main locations that Winterlude activities take place. The first is the Crystal Gardens in Confederation Park. Ice carvers from across the globe showcase their talents by turning big blocks of ice into beautiful sculptures. In the evening the sculptures are lit up with captivating and colourful lights that bring their masterpieces to life. From there you can snack on sticky maple syrup sticks, learn a bit about Canadian heritage at various kiosks them slip over to your next location.
The Rideau Canal Skateway is the world’s largest skating rink measuring at nearly 8 km of slippery fun. Several vendors are located along the skateway allowing you to rent skates, warm up and buy the renowned Beaver Tail treat. On Feberuary 1st, the Winterlude Triathlon takes place where hundreds of winter enthusiast race down 8 km of ice, ski for 5 km and wrap it all up with a 5 km run. In addition to the winter sport fun is the Great Canadian Beaver Cup Pond Hockey Classic on Dow’s Lake. From February 7-9, watch the teams go head to head for some good old fashion winter fun.
Last, but most certainly not least is Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, home to the biggest snow playground on the continent! The Snowflake Kingdom is where you’ll find all the fun and snowy activities you and your kids will love. Slide down the Chinook, Iceberg and Glacier super slides or experience the XTRÊME Zone where you’ll find a four-line zipline, pedal go-karts, bungee trampoline and the all new giant snow maze. While you’re there, try to find the Ice Hog family for a cuddly hug. The mysterious winter creatures have come to the capital to celebrate Winterlude for many years and enjoy the winter festivities.
- Pack snacks: Though Beaver Tails and hot dogs are a fun way to keep their bellies full, pack some little snacks to keep your kids energized and happy. Trail mix, granola bars and crackers are easy non-perishable treats.
- Bring cash: Though there are several ATMs along the way, most vendors only accept cash which results in long lineups and tired little ones. If you’re planning on grabbing some hot cocoa, beat the crowd by carrying some small change on you.
- Take the OLG Sno-Bus: On all three Winterlude weekends (Feb 1-2, Feb 8-9 and Feb 15-16), OC Transpo and OLG provide several free shuttle buses that travel to all the different events.
- Bring backup: Sometimes little mittens get lost and socks get soggy, so pack an extra pair just in case.