Winterlude 2014 will transform Ottawa into the liveliest city in the country from Jan. 31 to Feb. 17. As you explore Ottawa during the festival you’ll probably end up at one of these three official Winterlude sites. Don’t worry, that’s a good thing — they return each year for a reason.
WINTERLUDE 2014: CRYSTAL GARDEN
WHERE: Confederation Park. Within walking distance of Parliament Hill, Rideau Centre, and the National Arts Centre.
WHEN: Open daily, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. | Feb. 17, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
WHAT: This is where world-class ice-carving masters turn blocks of ice into works of art. See them in action during the 27th International Ice-Carving Competition, Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. And definitely plan on walking through the park during the evening — special lighting enhances the sculptures and other artwork displayed during the duration of Winterlude.
MORE: This is also Opening Ceremony central! Festivities kick-off on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. And the park also hosts Sub-Zero DJ Nights every Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. throughout Winterlude.
WINTERLUDE 2014: SNOWFLAKE KINGDOM
WHERE: Jacques-Cartier Park. A couple minutes over the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge in Gatineau, down the street from the Canadian Museum of History.
WHEN: Open Mondays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sundays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The park is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
WHAT: The largest snow playground in the world! Your kids will fall in love with the variety of snow slides — a tube slide, one built for groups to speed down together, and another for the littlest of kiddies. And there will be special winter sports and games so your kids can join in on the Olympic fever.
MORE: The XTREME Zone opens on weekends, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., for thrill seekers and boundary pushers. The area includes a zip line, pedal go-carts on snow, a bungee trampoline, and a giant maze.
WINTERLUDE 2014: RIDEAU CANAL SKATEWAY
WHERE: Throughout Ottawa. Major entrance points include Mackenzie King East and West, across from Confederation Park; Somerset East and West, by the University of Ottawa; and Fifth Avenue in the Glebe neighbourhood
WHEN: Chalets open Sunday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
WHAT: The world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink is one of the centrepieces of Winterlude 2014. Glide along the 7.8 km Skateway, grab a delicious BeaverTail (sold on the Canal!), and grab a seat in one of the chalets to catch your breath and people watch. Didn’t bring your skates? Well, there are rental spots right on the Canal!
MORE: The Giant Tiger Interactive Hockey Zone, every Saturday and Sunday by the Fifth Avenue entrance, lets you test your skills at the hardest shot, most accurate shot, obstacle course, and more.