Ice Skating on the Rideau Canal and Winterlude Festivities

Winter is my least favourite season. I'm a big sissy when it comes to the cold. Born and raised in the west coast, I never had to deal with below zero temperatures until I moved to Ottawa back in 2008. During my first frigid Ontario winter, I learned that the only two ways to stay warm is to bundle up and get active!

So when I returned to Ottawa last week, that's exactly what I did. Marc and I headed to Dows Lake and spent an afternoon skating on the famous Rideau Canal.



I strapped on my skates and waddled onto the ice carefully. It's been a while since I last ice skated and I was pretty rusty.





I eventually got the hang of it and glided smoothly down the canal. :)

The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When winter arrives, it freezes up and transforms into the largest skating rink in the world. The entire rink is 7.8 kilometres long (the same surface area as 90 Olympic ice hockey rinks!) and runs through the heart of downtown Ottawa.





Man, what a workout it was! Even in -15 degrees, I started to peel off layers and work up a sweat.




Most people think of Ottawa as a boring government city, but where else in the world can you ice skate to work?

Before we knew it, we arrived downtown. The gorgeous parliament buildings stood in the distance while food vendors lined the outskirts of the ice rink. Frozen maple syrup, poutine, and other tasty treats awaited hungry skaters. I saw the Beaver Tails shack up ahead and bolted towards it.






You haven't lived until you've tried a Beaver Tail! These delectable treats consist of fried pastry doused in cinnamon sugar.



Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top and then you are good to go!


Love at first bite I tell ya!

A few days later, the annual Winterlude festival kicked off in the capital.


Every February, Ottawa and Gatineau host Winterlude, a winter festival held at numerous sites that offers a variety of outdoor and indoor activities to participate in.

The main site is Jacques-Cartier Park in Quebec, which is transformed into a giant snow park equipped with ice slides and more. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to make it there, so I opted to check out Confederation Park instead.






Confederation Park, located in downtown Ottawa, is home to the annual ice sculpture competition. Artists come from far and wide to turn massive blocks of ice into gorgeous masterpieces.

Marc and I walked around and was dazzled by all the frozen works of art. It was also so cool to see the artists in action. I couldn't believe they used chain saws to create such gorgeous masterpieces!






The best time to visit Confederation Park is at night because coloured lights illuminate the ice sculptures. The whole place transforms into a winter wonderland!





Winterlude is still on until February 16. If you find yourself in Ottawa and are not sure what to do, check out this site for a full list of Winterlude activities. The Rideau Canal Skateway is also still open and ready for you to explore. The skateway conditions change daily so be sure to check out this website beforehand to see which sections of the rink are open/are in good condition to skate on.

Melissa Li

I’m a Canadian girl on a quest to step foot in every continent before I’m 30. You’ll most likely find me chowing down on Japanese ramen, partying at a music festival, hiking to the top of a scenic lookout, cuddling with cats, or chilling out at the beach. I’ve visited over 60 countries so far and hope to inspire you to do the same.

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