Winterlude

Winterlude is a celebration of winter, held every year in Ottawa, Canada’s capital.  It is a fun-filled event that can be enjoyed by the whole family.  Tens of thousands of people will visit Ottawa for one of the three weekends in February to partake in one or more events.

Our friends, Eleanor and Jim are travelling from Oshawa to be with us for this second weekend of Winterlude and we will enjoy the outdoors despite the weather forecast which promises to be quite cold but sunny!  Fortunately there are many indoor activities as well.

There is something for everyone, from Arts and Culture to Outdoor Sports, where you can participate or just watch. 

Arts and Culture –

  • There is a Crystal Home where you can experience what a (luxurious) ice home would be like. 
  • There are Art Creations and a public Ice Sculpturing Contest.
  • There is the Ice Carving Championship, where contestants from all over the world come to show off their skills.
  • A Build-your-own Snow Bunker competition.
  • The Snowflake Stage has Shows throughout the day, all week long, for three weeks.
  • Winter Jazz Festival.  Hope their lips don’t freeze to their instruments!
  • Art Gallery special exhibits.
  • Fashion shows.
  • Youth Orchestra and Choir performances at various venues.
  • On Sundays there are Gospel Choirs performing.
  • Theatre Performances.
  • Cracking-up the Capital comedy shows.
  • Portraits on Ice.

Winter Sports –

  • Ice Skating on the World’s Longest Ice Skating Rink, the Rideau Canal, at 7.8 Km.
  • A Giant Ice Slide, Snowshoeing Demonstrations, an amazing Ice Maze, Downhill and Cross-country Skiing.
  • Learn How to ski, skate, snowshoe, and fly a kite.
  • A winter obstacle course.
  • Downhill sledding and skate safe demos.
  • The Winterlude Triathlon, the Bed Race, a Marathon, and Animal Tracking on Snowshoes.
  • Dog-sled rides and demos.
  • A Hockey Tournament.
  • Hockey Zone and Train rides.

Culinary

  • A Pancake Breakfast
  • The Byward Market Stew Cook-off.
  • An evening of Food and Fashion.
  • Wine Tasting.
  • Cordon Bleu Bistro.
  • Cooking Classes, including Vegan and Gluten-free demos.

There are several “Sno Buses” which ferry people from specific pick-up spots to different venues.  This is a free service!!!

Then there are the Beaver Tails, deep-fried dough, covered with cinnamon and sugar and topped with maple syrup (how Canadian).  I’ve never had one, but Eleanor and I have already decided we’re ready to try one. 

Hope you get a chance to come to Ottawa, either this year or some time in the future, to enjoy Winterlude with us!  I’ll try to get a few photos to share next week.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend. – Maureen.

 

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10 Things I Love About Ottawa

I am back home after two and a half weeks travelling in Ottawa and Montreal.  I was very tired when I got home and when I woke up in the middle of the night with someone beside me, I was very surprised.  Pleasantly surprised though.  And my hubby is a very happy man!!!

Ottawa is an incredibly beautiful city.  Every time I go there, I am struck by how liveable it is and how there are people everywhere.  It is alive and its people are very active.  So I wanted to do a “top ten” list for Ottawa.

  1. The Rideau Canal.  This canal runs through Ottawa from The Ottawa River through to Kingston, Ontario, about 200 km away.  It was opened in 1832 and is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America.  In the summer it is full of pleasure boats which moor along its length at pubs and restaurants.  In the winter, the canal is drained and a 6 km long ice rink is constructed and hundreds of people skate on it every day.  My son-in-law used to skate or kayak to work as the canal is only steps from their front door.   Little portable shops are placed on the canal and you can get a hot chocolate to drink or a beaver tail  to eat.
  2. Beaver Tails.  These are shaped like beaver tails and are fried pastries coated with sugar and cinnamon.  Can you imagine stopping for a beaver tail after a toe-chilling day on the canal?  Mmmmm.
  3. Winterlude.  This is a festival held in Ottawa for about three weeks every winter.  There are ice sculptures and fireworks.  There are performers and a “snow playground”.  And of course, the canal.
  4. The Tulip Festival. During World War II, the Queen of Holland was living in exile in Ottawa.  When she was about to give birth, an area at the Ottawa Hospital was declared to be a part of Holland so her daughter could be born in their homeland.  After her return home, the Queen sent tulip bulbs to the city of Ottawa as a thank you. Every spring hundreds of thousands of tulip bloom and they are gorgeous to see.
  5. The Green Belt.  This is a reserved area running through the city that is designated green.  It really adds to the beauty of the city.
  6. The Bike Paths.  Running through the Green Belt, alongside the canal and in every area of the city, there are many bike/pedestrian paths where  residents can bike to work or shopping or to meet friends.  These paths are ploughed in the winter, so they are still useable.
  7. The Museums. There are enough museums to please people with many different interests.  The Aviation Museum, The Museum of Civilization, The Museum of Nature, The War Museum, and The Museum of Science and Technology are just a few.  I still remember taking our girls to the museums when they were little.
  8. Dow’s Lake.  This is one of the best places in Canada for rowing, kayaking, and canoeing.  Canadian Olympic athletes use this area  for training.  As you drive or walk by in the early evenings, you often see dragon-boat  teams, getting ready for a competition.
  9. The National Arts Centre. In the centre of downtown this facility hosts symphony, ballet, and other cultural activities.  I went with my daughter once and heard a young man playing a Stradivarius violin accompanied by the National Arts Centre orchestra.  I’ll never forget that sound. 
  10. Autumn.  Fall is spectacular in the Ottawa area.  Across the river are the Gatineau Hills which are a blaze of colour and there are hiking areas around  the mountain lakes to allow visitors to enjoy the amazing views.

There are so many things I love about Ottawa that we are planning to move there in the coming months.  Every time I visit there, I have this desire to make it happen sooner rather than later.