For some, winter is the time to curl up at home in front of a fireplace and count the days until spring. But for those who like to embrace the winter season and the activities it offers; the Ottawa region has an impressive array of options. Here are just a few ideas:
Feb. 2-19: Winterlude
Ottawa’s annual celebration of winter offers more than 200 outdoor and indoor activities at sites across our region. Activities include ice sculpture displays, ski and snowboard lessons, sleigh rides, outdoor busker performances and more. Festival sites include the ByWard Market and Sparks Street in Ottawa and Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau. Jacques-Cartier Park offers many activities for families with children, including a snow slide, snow sculptures, a snow cave and a maze. Information and calendar of events: www.canada.ca/winterlude
Walk through a Musical Iceberg
Through Feb. 19 In the outdoor Waterfall Court in front of the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, visitors can walk through “Iceberg,” an immersive sound-and-light structure inspired by the sounds made within icebergs as water seeps into their crevices. This structure consists of a series of illuminated arches, and each makes a different sound as you walk through it. The outdoor exhibit is free. While there, you can pay admission to the museum to check out the Canadian History Hall, the Canadian Children’s Museum, film screenings or special exhibitions. Parking is available at the museum. Details: www.historymuseum.ca
Skate on a Refrigerated Outdoor Rink:
Ottawa’s temperatures aren’t always cold enough for the Rideau Canal Skateway to open. But there are several outdoor rinks where the ice surfaces are refrigerated, so you can enjoy a traditional outdoor skate even if the winter air temperature is not sub-zero.
These include the Rink of Dreams, the 12,500 square-foot rink outside Ottawa City Hall on Laurier Avenue at Elgin Street. Admission is free. Open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week through the end of March. There are hot chocolate and pastry vendors on the grounds, along with skate rentals. It can be busy on weekends and weekday evenings when the rink is illuminated with bright colours. If you’re able to visit during the day on weekdays, you’re likely to encounter smaller crowds.
Other refrigerated outdoor rinks are the Skating Court at Lansdowne Park in the Glebe and the Rink at Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Dr. For information, click on the Outdoor Rinks
Just a 15-minute drive from downtown Ottawa, Camp Fortune offers ski and snowboard hills for all skill levels, as well as ski lodges and equipment rentals. Camp Fortune also offers beginner ski and snowboard lessons for ages seven and older. Private lessons are also available. Like many resorts, Camp Fortune can make its own snow when there isn’t much natural snow available. Information: www.campfortune.com
Cross-country skiing at Mooney’s Bay Ski Centre
If you cross-country ski or would like to give it a try, you can take lessons at the Mooney’s Bay Ski Centre at the city of Ottawa’s Terry Fox Athletic Facility, 2960 Riverside Dr.
The Ski Centre offers five kilometres of groomed trails, lighted trails for night skiing, indoor change rooms and washrooms, free parking and a ski school offering daily lessons for all levels, from children to adults. Private lessons also available. Information: www.ottawa.ca/recreation