Winterlude Week 1 Highlights: An invitation to explore, imagine, skate and slide

Canada’s Capital Region – The National Capital Commission (NCC) is ready to welcome residents and visitors for the 35th edition of Winterlude, which starts Friday, February 1, 2013. Over three weeks, until February 18, Canada’s Capital Region will be the ideal destination to discover Canadian winter traditions through a wide variety of cultural, sport, culinary, scientific and family activities.

Here is a snapshot of the activities taking place during the first weekend of Winterlude.

American Express Winterlude Opening
Friday, February 1, Marion Dewar Plaza at Ottawa City Hall

The celebration officially kicks off on February 1, beginning at 7 pm, with the American Express® Winterlude Opening at Winterlude’s newest site: Marion Dewar Plaza at Ottawa City Hall.

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 bring their skates and experience the illuminated Rink of Dreams at night.

The Winterlude fun continues at this location all weekend with:

  • the Ninth Annual Enbridge FREE Pancake Breakfast, Saturday at 10 am;
  • Enbridge “Energy on Ice” skating performances on the Rink of Dreams;
  • the multi-sensory show IgNight! featuring musical performances, aerial dancers, and interactive projections;
  • K-Pop Night, featuring VJ Gee and DJ Jaybe Park.

Crystal Garden in Confederation Park
“Imaginary Garden” carved in ice

This weekend, there are plenty of chances to watch ice carvers from around the world create their crystalline masterpieces at Confederation Park. These include the One-Block Challenge on Friday, February 1st from 8 am to 10 am (awards ceremony: 5 pm), and the 26th International Ice-Carving Competition, where professional carvers from around the world put their talent to the test throughout the weekend.

New and exclusive: an outdoor Lantern Garden, a gift from the city of Jinju, demonstrates the true spirit of international friendship. The NCC has worked closely with the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival of 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 large free-standing lanterns shaped in whimsical forms.

On opening weekend, visitors to Crystal Garden will also have the opportunity to:

  • visit an authentic lavvu for Norwegian storytelling and snow-lantern making;
  • discover IllumiNation, an outdoor light art gallery featuring unique Canadian works of art;
  • meet the Kettle Boys for some “olde time” fun;
  • celebrate the Year of the Polar Bear with an ice bear quest;
  • learn about ephemeral art and create their own sculpture, or participate in making an ice mosaic sculpture;
  • experience the northern lights through the lens of world experts on the auroras;
  • see Mighty Muskox – prehistoric beasts that still roam Canada’s Northwest Territories – carved in ice;
  • find out more about Canada’s Arctic and celebrate the centennial of the first Canadian Arctic Expedition.

Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park, Gatineau
Let the adventure begin — with the Ice Hog Family!

Presented by the NCC and the Ville de Gatineau, young and the young at heart alike will enjoy playing in this frosty paradise of giant snow slides. The fun begins on Friday, February 1, at 10:30 am, when Mama and Papa Ice Hog, and twins Noumi and Nouma, join the crowd for the official launch of Snowflake Kingdom – North America’s biggest snow playground.

On Winterlude’s first weekend, visitors will have the chance to:

  • join in some old time games, as we highlight the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s passage through the region;
  • learn about the rich culture of the Algonquin peoples at an Anishinabe Village;
  • take part in an Interactive Winter Fun Circuit;
  • test their physical fitness in the Canadian Forces Winter Obstacle Course;
  • experience downhill skiing with qualified instructors;
  • feel the rhythm at the Snowflake Stage featuring talented performers and acrobatic stunts;
  • try a kicksled, the outdoor activity that millions of Scandinavians love;
  • visit the XTREME Zone, where they can try a zip line, pedal go-karts on snow, wall climbing and see snowscoot demonstrations.

The Rideau Canal Skateway
Celebrating 43 seasons of skating

Each winter, the NCC transforms the Rideau Canal into the world’s largest skating rink, which was officially recognized as such in 2005 by Guinness World Records™. The Rideau Canal Skateway is centre stage for many activities during Winterlude. For the celebration’s opening weekend, the world-famous ice surface will host the 30th Annual Winterlude Triathlon and the 33rd Annual Accora Village Bed Race which take place at Dows Lake this Saturday.

Visitors to the Skateway will also have the opportunity to sign up for a free 45-minute Enbridge Learn to Skate session, or enjoy a free hot chocolate and capture their Winterlude memories on film in the American Express Lounge at Fifth Avenue.

Please note: The Rideau Canal Skateway is temporarily closed because of adverse weather conditions. Crews will continue maintenance operations to reopen the Skateway as quickly as possible, as weather permits.

Programming Partners
Truly making Winterlude the Capital Region’s winter celebration

For the 35th edition of Winterlude, 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.

Here is just a sampling of what takes place on the first weekend of Winterlude:

  • 22nd Annual ByWard Market Stew Cook-Off;
  • the second annual Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival;
  • Spectacular NWT Days at the Ottawa Convention Centre;
  • Sarah Slean and The Lost Fingers at Centrepointe Theatre;
  • Tricia Foster at Shenkman Arts Centre;
  • Elisapie Isaac at the Canadian Museum of Civilization;
  • Vipérine at the National Arts Centre;
  • Ottawa Junior Youth Orchestra performs Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony;
  • Wellington West Warm-Up at Cube Gallery;
  • Christine, la reine-garçon at Maison de la culture de Gatineau;
  • Downtown Rideau CHILL FACTOR.

For more information about Winterlude, please 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 NCC’s website at