Winterlude: the Capital’s winter celebration grows: More partners, more experiences, more sharing of Canadian culture and activities

The National Capital Commission (NCC) today unveiled the line-up of events for the 35th edition of Winterlude, the Capital’s winter celebration.

Winterlude will be held from February 1st to 18, 2013, and will feature an array of memorable activities where the outdoors, winter sports, Canada’s diverse culture, winter traditions and culinary arts will be at the forefront.

“For the 35th edition of Winterlude, more partners than ever have come together to showcase Canadian winter traditions, diversity, artistic talent and scientific achievements,” explains Jean-François Trépanier, NCC Chief Executive Officer. “The NCC, in collaboration with our partners and sponsors, is proud to present events such as this that reflect both Canada’s Capital Region and the country as a whole.”

Mr. Trépanier was accompanied by Jim Watson, Mayor of the City of Ottawa, Joseph De Sylva, Deputy Mayor of Ville de Gatineau, and Patrick Dussault, Vice-President, Government Services, American Express, at a news conference held today on Marion Dewar Plaza, at Ottawa City Hall, Winterlude’s newest official site.

During Winterlude, the NCC will mark the 100th anniversary of the first Arctic expedition, the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s passage in this region, the 300th anniversary of Louisbourg, the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice and will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations with South Korea through a unique collaboration with the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival in Jinju in South Korea.

American Express® Winterlude Opening, Marion Dewar Plaza, February 1st

On February 1st, the celebration officially kicks off at Winterlude’s newest site: Marion Dewar Plaza at Ottawa City Hall, beginning at 7 pm.

Our Canadian winter will be fêted with a spectacle of winter wonders, as the spirits of great Canadian explorers emerge onto the plaza. This multi-sensory evening features musical performances, aerial dancers, interactive projections, a public art illumination display, pyrotechnic effects and a DJ dance party with Ottawa’s own A Tribe Called Red. Visitors can also bring their skates and experience the Rink of Dreams.

Also on February 1st and steps away from the Plaza, a whirlwind of taste and style will inspire tickets holders inside the Ottawa Convention Centre, at American Express Winterlude Food and Fashion Evening. Star chef Marc Lépine, owner of Atelier restaurant in Ottawa, and winner of the 2012 Canadian Culinary Championships, will present a five-course menu that will tantalize the taste buds. A feast for the eyes will follow when Toronto designer Lucian Matis showcases his 2012–13 Black Label collection. Tickets are available through Capital Tickets.

“At American Express, we value creating unique and memorable experiences, which is why we are delighted to be the official partner of Winterlude and the Rideau Canal Skateway for the eighth consecutive year,” said Patrick Dussault, Vice-President, Government Services with American Express. “Through partnerships like Winterlude, we are able to bring unique experiences to our American Express Cardmembers, employees and all Canadians.”

Programming Partners

This edition, more than 75 programming partners, from Ottawa and Gatineau’s private and public sectors, have come together to offer visitors a wide-range of indoor and outdoor activities aimed at animating the Capital like never before. The NCC wishes to extend its appreciation to its programming partners for rolling out a winter welcome for residents and visitors.

Activities are anchored in the four Winterlude programming pillars: Arts and Culture; Outdoor, Sports and Recreation; Science and Technology; and Culinary.

Official Winterlude Sites

Winterlude activities will take place on the Rideau Canal Skateway, at Crystal Garden in Confederation Park, at Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park, and new this year, at Marion Dewar Plaza at Ottawa City Hall.

Rideau Canal Skateway

This winter marks the 43rd season of skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The world’s largest skating rink will host many Winterlude activities such as:

30th Annual Winterlude Triathlon, one of Winterlude’s oldest sporting events that exemplifies what winter in Canada’s Capital is all about: skating on the Rideau Canal, coupled with cross-country skiing and running. (8-km skate, 5-km ski and 5-km run)
33rd Annual Accora Village Bed Race, which features fifty teams racing modified beds in heats down a 50-metre course to help determine the fastest bed.
5th Annual Beaver Cup Pond Hockey Festival. The Beaver Cup is a celebration of hockey, and a chance to play four-on-four pond hockey on the Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s largest skating rink.

Crystal Garden in Confederation Park

Visitors to Crystal Garden will be able to admire masterpieces and witness a fusion of art and ice. At night, special lighting will turn the ice-carving masterpieces into a breathtaking sight.

New for 2013: an outdoor Garden of Lanterns demonstrates the true spirit of international friendship. The NCC is working closely with the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival in Jinju in South Korea, to create a spectacular 35-metre (115 ft) long tunnel, comprised of over 1,300 lanterns. In addition to strolling through the tunnel, Winterlude-goers can also admire other free-standing large lanterns shaped in whimsical forms.

An annual crowd favourite, during the first weekend of activities, professional ice carvers from around the world will participate in the 26th International Ice-Carving Competition, under the theme of “The Imaginary Garden”.

The NCC will again host a number of activities, workshops and demonstrations at Confederation Park that showcase cultural and artistic diversity: IllumiNation, an outdoor gallery will feature interactive and contemplative light artworks created by Canadian artists; the Royal Norwegian Embassy will invite visitors to discover, from an authentic Sami Lavvu, the customs and folklore of Norway; and visitors can also explore a stunning and powerful exhibit of Arctic images to celebrate the centennial of the first Canadian Arctic Expedition.

As part of a longstanding relationship with Veterans Affairs Canada, an impressive ice sculpture will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice and recognize the Canadian contribution to ending the war six decades ago.

Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park

This winter wonderland setting is the home of Winterlude’s favourite mascots, the Ice Hog family. Visitors will discover a fun-filled adventure as they enter the biggest snow playground on the continent, with activities inspired by our historical past and our winter traditions.

Parks Canada will help celebrate the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the French colony of Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) and the founding of the town of Louisbourg. As visitors enter Maison Charron, they will step back in time and can try their hand at 18th century games and activities, “dig” for artifacts, and much more.

The 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s passage through the region, as well as the support from the Algonquin peoples, will be highlighted at Snowflake Kingdom. Visitors can try games from the past and warm up by the fire for an introduction to the daily lives of the Algonquin peoples — shaped by ceremonies, rituals and history — and explore their rich culture.

In collaboration with the Government of Yukon, Snowflake Kingdom is pleased to welcome talented northern artists and snow sculptors during the second weekend of Winterlude.

Winterlude’s Snowflake Kingdom is a co-production of the NCC and Ville de Gatineau.

Winterblast Weekend – February 15 to 17

New this year, Winterblast Weekend is perfect for the younger crowd (ages 13 to 24). Part of the NCC’s youth initiatives, this 3-day offering is filled with events for, and in many cases led by, youth.

One of the highlights will be the kick-off event on Friday night that includes a DJ battle between local high schools, dancing under the stars, sliding after dark at Snowflake Kingdom, and more. The kick-off is a collaboration with La Commission Jeunesse de la Ville de Gatineau.

On Saturday night, “Chill Out and Warm Up”, a showcase of heartwarming and award-winning short films created by youth will be presented. On Sunday at Winterlude, visitors can meet the artists behind the collection “Defining Moments: Discovering Our Canadian Stories”. This cross-country travelling exhibit features the work of 26 young people from across Canada, aged 13 to 30. These pieces express the artists’ views on Canadian life and identity.

And that is only a preview of what is planned!

Ontario Family Day — Monday, February 18th, Winterlude celebrations continue on main sites for Ontario Family Day.

For more information about Winterlude, the public can contact the NCC at 613-239-5000, 613-239-5090 (TTY), 1-800-465-1867 (toll-free) or 1-866-661-3530 (toll-free TTY), or visit the website at For information about access to Winterlude’s sites for people with limited mobility, the public is invited to contact the NCC.

The NCC is proud to present Winterlude, with the support of the following official site sponsors and partners: American Express®, Ville de Gatineau, City of Ottawa, Government of Ontario, Government of Yukon, Government of the Northwest Territories, Veterans Affairs Canada, Parks Canada, Royal Norwegian Embassy, National Defence and the Canadian Forces, WWF, Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival, Canadian Museum of Nature, Société de transport de l’Outaouais, OC Transpo, OLG – Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, Enbridge Gas Distribution, Giant Tiger, and many others, including support of the Region’s hospitality industry. Special thanks go to the hundreds of volunteers who contribute their time, talent and energy during the Capital’s winter celebration.

The NCC also wishes to thank the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport for its contribution to the Winterlude marketing campaign.