• By: Kat Walcott

Ottawa’s historic snowy festival Winterlude makes its big return

Photo: Kat Walcott

After three long years, Winterlude is finally back! In light of the pandemic restrictions, the National Capital Region’s long-running winter festival canceled all in-person events in 2021 and 2022, making it three years since the festival has hosted in-person events.

Winterlude runs over three weekends, from February 3rd to 20th, with live music, tubing, ice skating, food vendors, the famous ice carving competition, and more in downtown Ottawa and across the river in Gatineau. Here are just some of the events to check out.

Tubing and more at Snowflake Kingdom

Gatineau's Snowflake Kingdom is one of the primary Winterlude sites where you will find fun and games for the whole family. Enjoy tubing on the giant snow hill, zip lining, gorgeous snow sculptures and carvings, food vendors, live entertainment, and more. The site is free to access and is open for the duration of Winterlude.

Photo: Kat Walcott

National Ice Carving Competition on Sparks Street

Since 1985, Winterlude has hosted the National Ice Carving Competition — an exciting event that features ice carvers from all over Canada competing for the big win. This year's theme is Creatures of the Sea, a tribute to Canada’s beautiful underwater life. Teams of carvers will have 20 hours to carve their sculpture. The competition runs the opening weekend, February 3rd-5th, on Sparks Street. Take the whole family to check out the ice creations and vote for your favourite sculpture.

Photo: Kat Walcott

Mini pow-wow at the Canadian Museum of History

Celebrate winter while staying cozy indoors with Indigenous Experiences! The organization is hosting a pow-wow at the Canadian Museum of History featuring ceremonial dancing and drumming performed by Indigenous performers of all ages. The event is free and begins at 11 a.m. on February 5th.

Photo: Indigenous Experiences

Winter Pride

Winter Pride will present fun family events throughout Winterlude, including Drag on Ice, rainbow ice mosaic displays at the Snowflake Kingdom and on Sparks Street, drag storytime, a parade, and much more. Don’t miss out on the chance to celebrate Ottawa’s vibrant LGBTQ+ communities.

Photo: Capital Pride

Aurora Festive Winter Experience

As night falls, hop across the pond to Gatineau for Aurora. The Ruisseau de la Brasserie is a lit-up, magical, family-fun event that will showcase a live DJ, coffee bar, and skating rink that you won’t miss. Best part, it’s free.

Photo: Aurora Festive Winter Experience

Visit the official Winterlude website for more info about these events and the full Winterlude 2023 schedule.