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What to Do Ottawa

Winter Wonders: Winterlude

Winterlude kicks off with an ice carving competition at Confederation Park. Stop by to see some beautiful works of glacial art! (Photo: Canadian Heritage)

Winterlude kicks off with an ice carving competition at Confederation Park. Stop by to see some beautiful works of glacial art! (Photo: Canadian Heritage)

Ottawa’s frosty winters offer visitors and residents the opportunity to experience things those living in southern climes can only dream of. Winterlude was created in 1979 as a way to celebrate the fact that, although winter can be cold and dark, it can also be beautiful and fun. This year’s festival runs from January 30 to February 16, and there’s plenty to do, see, and eat at its three major sites.

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Ottawa Weekend Calendar Jan. 30 to Feb. 1

Kick off Winterlude at the opening ceremonies on Friday night, complete with a DJ dance party at Confederation Park.

Kick off Winterlude at the opening ceremonies on Friday night, complete with a DJ dance party at Confederation Park. (Photo: Canadian Heritage)

Friday, Jan. 30

Winterlude officially kicks off on Friday! To commemorate the Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, which is coming to stadiums across the country in June, FIFA is creating its very own snow sculpture at Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park. Plus, have your photo taken with snowy owl Shuéme, the official mascot of the Women’s World Cup, and join in a game of snow soccer. The event runs all weekend, and admission is free.

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Skating at Rideau Hall

The Rideau Canal isn't the only place for wintertime skating — try the outdoor rink at Rideau Hall! (Photo: MCPL Evan Kuelz © Office of the Secretary to the Governor General)

The Rideau Canal isn’t the only place for wintertime skating — try the outdoor rink at Rideau Hall! (Photo: MCPL Evan Kuelz © Office of the Secretary to the Governor General)

While the Rideau Canal provides the quintessential skating experience for outdoor enthusiasts, those seeking quieter ice might try their luck at the Rideau Hall skating rink. Originally opened in 1872, it’s one of the oldest rinks in the city, and was the site of many skating parties hosted by Canada’s third governor general, the Earl of Dufferin. Public skating takes place on weekends from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. —Amy Allen
•Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Dr., 866-842-4422. gg.ca
Map and reviews

 

Fighting in Flanders at the Canadian War Museum

This German howitzer was just one of many machines of war that Canadian troops had to contend with in Belgium. (Photo: Canadian War Museum)

This German howitzer was just one of many machines of war that Canadian troops had to contend with in Belgium. (Photo: Canadian War Museum)

Canada’s military contributions to World War I cannot be underestimated. It was largely thanks to Canadians that Allied forces managed to hold the line at the Battle of Ypres for as long as they did; similarly, they were instrumental in the capture of Passchendaele in 1917. Fighting in Flanders — Gas. Mud. Memory explores the many challenges that Canadian troops faced during these pivotal battles in Belgium. On display at the Canadian War Museum until April 6.
•Canadian War Museum, 1 Vimy Place, 819-776-7000. warmuseum.ca
Map and reviews

Snow Days: Skiing in the Ottawa Region

Fresh snowfall makes for perfect skiing conditions in and around Ottawa. (Photo: Calabogie Peaks Resort)

Fresh snowfall makes for perfect skiing conditions in and around Ottawa. (Photo: Calabogie Peaks Resort)

It sometimes feels like winter lasts forever, but in reality, ideal skiing conditions only stick around for a couple of months out of the year. Thankfully, the Ottawa region has a number of slopes that offer downhill ski — and so much more.

Edelweiss
20 runs, 8 tubing slides
Night skiing: yes
Wakefield, Que.
819-459-2328
edelweissvalley.com

Mont Cascades
20 runs
Night skiing: yes
Gatineau, Que.
819-827-0301
montcascades.com

Vorlage
17 runs
Night skiing: yes
Wakefield, Que.
819-459-3336
skivorlage.com

Mont Ste. Marie
20 runs
Night skiing: no
Lac-Sainte-Marie, Que.
819-467-5200
montstemarie.com

Calabogie Peaks
29 runs
Night skiing: no
Calabogie, Ont.
800-669-4861
calabogie.com

Camp Fortune
20 runs
Night skiing: yes
Chelsea, Que.
819-827-1717
campfortune.com

Mount Pakenham
10 runs, tubing hill
Night skiing: yes
Pakenham, Ont.
613-624-5290
mountpakenham.com

Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo

Little Ray's has over 150 animals on display, including alligators, pythons, cobras, rattlesnakes, and more. (Photo: Matthew Belyea/MTKS Adventures)

Little Ray’s has over 150 animals on display, including alligators, pythons, cobras, rattlesnakes, and more. (Photo: Matthew Belyea/MTKS Adventures)

With the cooling weather, consider cozying up to some of the world’s cold-blooded creatures. Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo is the largest reptile rescue group in Canada, and displays over 150 live animals every day, including alligators, cobras, giant pythons, and rattlesnakes. The zoo is heavily invested in animal education and outreach, and has 25 permanent exhibits along with 20 feature exhibits that rotate every six months. —Amy Allen
•Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, 5305 Bank St., 613-822-8924. raysreptiles.com
Map and reviews

Breeding Champions at the Canadian Museum of History

Breeding Champions explores the life of E.P. Taylor, whose prize racehorse Northern Dancer captured the Kentucky Derby. (Photo: Tony Leonard)

Breeding Champions explores the life of E.P. Taylor, whose prize racehorse Northern Dancer captured the Kentucky Derby. (Photo: Tony Leonard)

Canadian business magnate E.P. Taylor was a prolific man. He launched his career by building the largest brewing company in the world and went on to become a famous breeder of thoroughbred racehorses. His stallion Northern Dancer was the first Canadian-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby. Breeding Champions, an ongoing exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History, explores how Taylor built his stable, Windfields Farm, and became one of the best breeders in the world. On display until Jan. 18, 2015. —Amy Allen
•Canadian Museum of History, 100, rue Laurier, Gatineau, 819-776-7000. historymuseum.ca
Map and reviews

Northern Exposure: Arctic Voices

How much do you really know about the Arctic? This exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Nature will challenge your perceptions about Canada's northern ecosystem.

How much do you really know about the Arctic? This exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Nature will challenge your perceptions about Canada’s northern ecosystem.

There’s more to the Arctic than meets the eye. It’s not a barren wasteland of ice and snow; it’s home to a surprising diversity of wildlife and many different indigenous groups. Through photographs, videos, specimens, and interactive experiences, visitors to Arctic Voices will challenge their perceptions about the Arctic and discover the ecological impact this remote northern region has on the entire planet. On view at the Canadian Museum of Nature from Dec. 5 until April 30, 2015. —Amy Allen
•Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod St., 613-566-4700. nature.ca
Map and reviews

Lifecycles: Meaghan Haughian at La Petite Mort Gallery

Meaghan Haughian's mixed media art explores the dualities of life. (Photo: Tom Evans)

Meaghan Haughian’s mixed media art explores the dualities of life. (Photo: Tom Evans)

Meaghan Haughian’s art is simultaneously personal and universal. She uses old family photographs as the basis of each work, which lends her pieces an autobiographical element. The themes she explores, however, tackle much broader issues, such as the cyclical nature of life, history, identity, and memory. On at La Petite Mort Gallery from Dec. 5 to Jan. 4, 2015. —Amy Allen
•La Petite Mort Gallery, 306 Cumberland St., 613-860-1555. lapetitemortgallery.com
Map and reviews

Lovely Lyrics With Alejandra Ribera

Alejandra Ribera performs at the National Arts Centre on Dec. 6.

Alejandra Ribera performs at the National Arts Centre on Dec. 6.

DEC. 6 Alejandra Ribera’s sound is difficult to define. She first captured public attention in 2009 with the release of her debut album, Navigator, Navigather, which was comprised mainly of untamed, Latin-styled music. Now, she’s back with album number two, La boca, and it’s a more mature, deliberate offering. While it retains some of its Latin influences, Ribera also sings in French and, primarily, English. —Amy Allen
•National Arts Centre, Studio, 53 Elgin St., 888-991-2787. nac-cna.ca
•Map and reviews

What to Do in Ottawa: Can’t Miss Events in December

The National Arts Centre English Theatre performs Alice Through the Looking Glass. (Photo: David Krovblit)

The National Arts Centre English Theatre performs Alice Through the Looking Glass. (Photo: David Krovblit)

Come December, the city’s stages play host to an assortment of holiday-themed acts. But fear not — there are plenty of non-Christmassy shows to catch if you’re not feeling the holiday spirit quite yet. (Come back on Monday for a roundup of our can’t-miss holiday events!)

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Lights in the Night

Since its launch in 1985, Christmas Lights Across Canada has been illuminating Ottawa's cold winter nights.

Since its launch in 1985, Christmas Lights Across Canada has been bringing warmth and holiday cheer to the capital.

In December 1985, the government of Canada launched a Christmas lights program on Parliament Hill to bring warmth and colour to the long winter nights. Since then, the program has expanded to include every province and territory across the country. The lights can now be seen at over 40 sites along Confederation Boulevard in Ottawa and Gatineau. An illumination ceremony on Dec. 3 will include a spectacular light show, carols, and on-site performances. See website for details. —Amy Allen
•Downtown Ottawa/Gatineau. christmaslights.gc.ca