There’s no better time than winter to enjoy all that Ottawa has to offer. The temperatures may plummet, but the spirit of the city comes alive in the winter months, with endless options to entertain yourself and experience the great outdoors. Snow enthusiasts will find no shortage of adventures throughout Canada’s capital, but here are a few favorites:
Taking place in the first three weeks of February, Winterlude is an annual celebration of winter, and Ottawa’s most cherished festival. Attractions include an ice carving competition, outdoor concerts, and sporting events such as ice fishing, many of them happening around the frozen Rideau Canal. Children especially love Snowflake Kingdom with its collection of huge snow slides. Be sure to also visit at night to marvel at the lit up ice sculptures!
Cutting through downtown Ottawa, the Rideau Canal is a long waterway that freezes over in winter, becoming the largest naturally frozen skating rink in the world. Take the family out into the cool, crisp air, and glide the day away, stopping for beaver tails (a renowned Canadian pastry) and hot chocolates along the way. The Rink of Dreams at Ottawa’s City Hall continues the ice skating thrill across the city.
What other capital city offers cross-country skiing trails left, right, and center? Encircling Ottawa, the Greenbelt area is an ideal spot for families and beginners, since the trails are easy and free to use. Just across the Ottawa River from downtown, Gatineau Park offers over 50 trails with varying difficulty and heated shelters peppered along the way, making the park an absolute dream for cross-country skiing enthusiasts.
Another family favorite, dog sledding is a uniquely Canadian experience. Many tours are on offer across the Ottawa Valley, so you’re bound to find the most magical way to be led down snow-covered trails by a pack of beautiful dogs. The adventure is sure to be a memorable one for everyone.
This great Canadian tradition will no doubt be a hit with children of all ages. Speeding down one of the Greenbelt’s snowy hills on a traditional wooden sled is exhilarating, and you’ll want to go back over and over again. So pack the family for a day of thrill, fun and fresh air as you race each other to the bottom.
Those looking to escape the cold for a day will enjoy this indoor recreation. Located near Confederation Park in downtown Ottawa, the National Arts Centre hosts a flurry of events during the cooler months, often at discounted prices. The program usually includes opera performances, live orchestras, folk and rock concerts and ballet, but be sure to check what is currently on schedule.
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