Where to Find the Winterlude Family Fun

Are you getting excited for Winterlude yet? The festival is just a few weeks away, and 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the annual event. This year Winterlude runs from February 2-19. So start planning your planning now with some help from my list of the best Winterlude attractions for you and the kids.

Skating the Rideau Canal

Grab your skates and hit up the world’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink. The ice extends 7.8 kilometres and takes you right through downtown Ottawa. If you need to rent skates or sleighs (great for pushing the kids around), you can rent them at 3 different locations: The National Arts Centre, Fifth Avenue and Dow’s Lake Pavilion.

There are plenty of rest stops along the canal. There are good places to grab a hot chocolate and enjoy a yummy Beavertail (my daughter doesn’t let us get away without buying one).

The Rideau Canal is also the host site for a number of fun Winterlude traditions. The 38th Annual Accora Village Bed Race is a beloved event where costumed teams race decorated hospital beds across the frozen ice. This charity event is fun for all ages, and this year it takes place on February 17th between 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm.

And you won’t want to miss the Ice Dragon Boat Festival. For only the second time here in North America, dragon boats will race down the frozen Rideau Canal, come out and cheer them on February 10th.

If you are looking to skate somewhere other than the Rideau Canal, you can also enjoy a skate on the Parliament Hill Ice Rink, which is open through Winterlude. To learn more about that experience and how to book your time on the ice, check out my blog post HERE.

The Crystal Garden at Confederation Park

Located at the corner of Laurier Avenue West and Elgin Street, the park is the site for some dazzling ice sculptures created by professional carvers from around the world. At night, special lighting turns the ice carving into a breathtaking sight.


There are always activities for the kids to check out around Confederation Park, particularly on the weekends. It is also a great place to try maple taffy in the snow, enjoy a hot chocolate and a beavertail too.


The Snowflake Kingdom at Jacques Cartier Park

Last year was the first time I took the kids to the Snowflake Kingdom – and we had so much fun! It is a giant winter playground for young and old. It is offered on the weekends (although it can get super busy), and through the week (however check before going, because it is sometimes closed for maintenance on Tuesday and Wednesday).

You can expect to enjoy super slides, magnificent snow sculptures, shows, food and meet and greets with the Ice Hog Family (the Winterlude mascots). The really fun slides include tubing runs, and they also include ice slides where you ride down on your bum…so make sure the kids (and you) wear your snow pants!

The Snowflake Kingdom is actually in a new location this year. Though still at Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, it will be down in the north end of the park this time. The reason the Snow Kingdom is moving, is because there is a new exhibit to enjoy at Jacques Cartier Park.

If you enjoyed Mosaicanada this past summer you will be familiar with the site, because that garden show is now being turned into Mosaivernales, a snow and ice sculpture exhibit. This event runs from January 26 to March 4.

For a full list and schedule of events for the entire three week long celebration, you can go to the official Winterlude website.


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