North America’s largest winter festival celebrates 38th year

Ice skating, warm hot chocolate and colourful toques all symbolize winter, but nothing says winter in Canada like Winterlude. Witness snow sculptures, attend a Sub-Zero Concert or skate down Rideau Canal at the 2016 Winterlude celebrations from Jan. 29 to Feb. 15.

The 38th edition of Winterlude can be experienced at three key sites in the heart of Canada’s National Capitol Region: The Snowflake Kingdom in Gatineau’s Jacques-Cartier Park, the Crystal Garden in Ottawa’s Confederation Park and the Rideau Canal Skateway.

“For the 38th edition of Winterlude, we can look forward to a wonderful celebration of our country’s nature, climate and culture. I invite residents and visitors in Canada’s Capital Region to join in the excitement. Skate, slide, embrace the beauty of the ice and snow sculptures and don’t forget to come meet the Ice Hog family,’ said Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The Snowflake Kingdom, the largest snow playground in North America, features many festive winter activities including snow sculptures, snow slides, light effects, sports and live entertainment with special performances by Shilvi and Atchoum. The Snowflake Kingdom also showcases Inuit culture through an Inuit Circle with Nunavut Sivuniksavut. Visitors can also meet with the Ice Hog Family, Winterlude’s mascots.

Canadian artist Gregory Charles will lead the kick-off celebrations of Winterlude at The Crystal Garden on the evening of Jan. 29. The Crystal Garden features an array of ice sculptures including the returning favorite, the 29th Crystal Garden International Ice-Carving Competition. Spectators can also check out the public art display “Flora and Fauna.” New this year is the Sub-Zero Concert Series on Friday and Saturday nights.

Confederation Park will also feature an ice sculptor made from 100 blocks of ice to mark the National Research Council of Canada’s 100th anniversary.

Winterlude wouldn’t be complete without the Rideau Canal Skateway; home to some of the festival’s classic activities, including the Winterlude Triathlon and annual Bed Race. Returning for the 46th season, the Rideau Canal Skateway is the world’s largest skating rink. Several activities are planned on the Skateway this year including CIBC Skate for the Cure, the Giant Tiger Interactive Hockey Zone and special performances at the OLG Sno-Bus Station.

Winterlude will also highlight various milestones in preparation for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, including the 175th anniversary of Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s birth, the centennial of women’s suffrage and the Franklin Expedition. Activities celebrating these milestones will be held at Jacques-Cartier Park’s Maison Charron.  Library and Archives  Canada will be presenting a unique display at the Skateway entitled “Let Them Howl: Images from 100 Years in the Women’s Rights Struggle.”

Visitors can visit Winterlude sites with the free OLG Sno-bus service.

The Department of Heritage also welcomes Canadians to volunteer at Winterlude.

For more information on Winterlude their website,   or on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @Winterlude.

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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