This year marks my 20th winter in Ottawa, where does the time go? After I'd lived here for a few years I had a bit of a realization: key to getting through Ottawa winters is dive right into them. Find reasons to get out and explore this beautiful city of ours and you may even find yourself enjoying those snowy postcard days.
Speaking of which, Winterlude 2020 is here! With everything from skating to scupltures to drag queens, there's something for everyone.
1. sparks street
Visit Sparks Street throughout Winterlude to explore a huge interactive light path. Four installations will transform Sparks with both art and technology: everything from interactive illuminated fairytales to the sound of an iceberg slipping into the sea.
2. Rideau Canal
A visit to the Rideau Canal Skateway is an absolute must during Winterlude! It's the world's longest outdoor skating rink, stretching 7.8km from the National Arts Centre all the way to Dow's Lake. And you'll find BeaverTails pastries, poutine, and shawarma along the way! Doesn't get more Ottawa than that.
You can rent skates ($22/2 hours) at three different spots along the Canal: at the start of the Canal downtown, Fifth Avenue in the Glebe, and Dow's Lake where the Canal ends. Or if you want to buy a pair, local consignment shops like St. Vincent de Paul and Goodwill have used skates for as low as $3!
3. Chateau Laurier
Whether you're visiting from out of town or planning a Winterlude staycation, Fairmont Château Laurier is the place to stay. It's rich in history with its Karsh portraits and regal architecture, yet it has all the modern touches you'd expect like fast wifi and lots of plugs for your gadgets.
It's a great home base for Winterlude because it's steps from the Rideau Canal, the National Arts Centre, and the Byward Market, and just a short walk from Parliament Hill, Sparks Street, and Confederation Park. The Wildly Winterlude package starts at $239 and includes a beautiful Fairmont Room, Beavertails, and hot chocolate. I highly recommend adding afternoon tea at Zoe's: it's a spectacular way to warm up after a day in the snow.
4. National Arts Centre
When you're done outside, warm up at the National Arts Centre! You'll find comfy places to sit, public bathrooms, plugs to charge your phone, free Rogers wifi, and be sure to grab a chai latte at Equator Coffee. Or pop down to the NAC restaurant, 1 Elgin, to taste your way across Canada (try the PEI beef tartare)
Wanna take in a show? The Neverending Story runs January 29 - February 16! It's an imaginative glow-in-the-dark retelling of the book and movie so many of us 80s kids grew up with, and its powerful anti-bullying message is just as powerful and relevant today. And if you've got kiddos aged 5-12, I've got good news for you: BIG BANG is back! Drop by February 16-17 for this family-focused festival and take a journey through sound machines, immersive installations, and more.
5, winter pride 2020
WinterPride is returning to Winterlude! After last year's successful first edition, it's now even more fabulous with five full days of celebrations. From February 4-9 enjoy LGBTQ2+ festivities for everyone, including A 2 Spirit Conversation, the WinterPride ICE Bar, and my top pick: Drag on Ice! Yup, drag queens. Drag kings. In skates. On ice. It's sure to be a night of eleganza extravaganza!
bundle up and have fun!
Whether this is your 20th Ottawa winter or perhaps your very first, make your Winterlude to-do list, bundle up, grab some friends, and enjoy everything our pretty city has to offer this snowy season. I've only scratched the surface so check out the full Winterlude event listing right here!
This post is sponsored by Canadian Heritage but all opinions are mine all mine.