FAB Guide to Winterlude 2014

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.

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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.

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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.

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HELPFUL TIPS

  • 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.
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Jack Frost is Nipping at my EVERYTHING!

Well guys- it’s time to get serious. January is upon us, and my snowpants have officially come out of hiding. Am I the only one who’s recently started thinking “Would it be so terrible if my dog were trained to go on a mat indoors?” Short answer- Yes; Long answer- I just don’t wanna go outside!!

The kids are in a similar predicament, but staying home wears thin, n’est-ce pas? So we’ve compiled a list of some of our fave winter activities in this great city of ours. As much as we love the sledding, skating, snow-man building –  winter is long. It’s time to get creative!

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Babe, Pig in the City;

Word around the Cocoa Heater here at Fab is that the place to be this month is the Agricultural Museum where the birth of a brand new set of piglets looms imminent! The Animal Barns are nicely heated as well, providing respite from the brisk wind.  They’re open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is by donation only until February 28, 2013.

Passport to Fun;

The Children’s Museum within the Museum of Civilization is a non-stop hive of activity! Worldly crafts and an educational play are just some of the benefits. Letting your little guy run his silly’s out while your fingers remain comfortably attached to your body is another. My favourite thing to do is pick up a Passport at the entry and make sure each page has a stamp. They have Free Admission every Thursday from 4-8pm, but keep in mind that from  January 7 to January 11, 2013 they will be closed for the Museum Annual Maintenance.

Alight with laughter;

There are only a few more days to check out Alight at Night at the Upper Canada Village. This activity has become a yearly tradition in my household, and has proven fodder for amazing family photos! Their final night this season is January 5th, 2012 and you can check the exhibition out from 5pm to 9pm. Admission is $13 for adults, $10 for youth and seniors and FREE for any child under the age of 5. Admission also includes both a wagon AND train ride, as well as Mom & Dad’s parking. There’s a canteen on site, but bring yourself a thermos of hot chocolate and avoid the lineups!

Civic Pride;

A big thanks should also go out to the City of Ottawa for their comprehensive list of workshops and activities that parents and children alike will enjoy! Don’t worry about signing up for a full-on series of classes, join in for some fun on special occasions! Coming up at the Nepean Sportsplex on February 10th take your 3-5 year olds to the Sweethearts Workshop from 9:30-10:30am. For $20 your little one can create all sorts of great crafts for the Sweethearts on their list this Valentine’s Day!

Or maybe Dad n’ Me Woodworking is more your speed? Visit the Nepean Sportsplex with your 3-5 year olds on January 26th from 9:30-11am to create a special project that you get to take home! Visit ottawa.ca for more great workshops.

Cool Science – Let’s get Nerdy!;

On February 16th be sure to stop by the Science and Technology Museum for Cool Science Saturday. With experiments happening both inside and out, your family will learn how COOL it is to be COLD! Running from 9am to 5pm admission is very fair, running only $28 for a family pass that allows 2 adults and 3 children. Learn more at; http://www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca

Sticking close to home?;

-Why not turn your backyard into an ever-changing bird sanctuary? Our fave feeders are from Prudent Baby , but a simple search of Pinterest should prove fruitful! 

-Create an outdoor obstacle course filled with jumps, tunnels and hills! The shoveling to create it will keep YOU warm, and the hours of running around it will be a treat for the tikes.

-Have you every hosted a shovel race in your driveway? While I know this is, admittedly, a touch selfish, it always goes down a treat! Use food colouring from your kitchen to divide up the lanes and have your little guys go to town! Winner gets first crack at the marshmallows for their hot chocolate!