Visitors to the Canadian capital Ottawa are being invited to take part in a bumper programme of active options this winter.
Free skating is on the cards seven days a week at the Rink of Dreams at Ottawa City Hall, from 8am to 11pm from November 28-March 16 (weather permitting), and the brand Skating Court at Lansdowne Park, from 6am to 11pm November 15-March 31, 2015 (bring your own skates for both).
Over in Gatineau Park, just 15 minutes north of downtown Ottawa, visitors will be able to try their hand at all manner of seasonal activities from traversing the 200km of cross-country skiing trails to snowshoeing and rambling along the three winter hiking trails. From mid-November to mid-April you can even camp out in one of the on-site four-season tents, yurts or even cabins if you fancy a few more creature comforts. www.ncc-ccn.gc.ca/Gatineau
Meanwhile, the Rideau Canal undergoes its annual transformation into the record-breaking Rideau Canal Skateway each winter, usually from the beginning of January through late February. At 4.8-miles in length, it’s the world’s longest skating rink and thanks to the support huts that line the route you can easily grab snacks and hire everything from skates to bright red sleighs to push your companions around in.
The Skateway forms a focal part of the annual Winterlude festival. Over three weekends from January 30 to February 16, the city will be transformed into a veritable winter wonderland complete with awe-inspiring ice carvings in Confederation Park and all manner of snow sculptures and ice slides in the Snowflake Kingdom in Gatineau’s Jacques-Cartier Park, home to Winterlude’s adorable cuddly mascots the Ice Hog family. From chef demonstrations and wine and food pairings to a winter triathlon and ice hockey tournament, there’s something for everyone, while open-air DJ dance parties every Friday and Saturday night will help to get the party started.
With all that activity, you’re bound to work up an appetite. To help visitors replenish their lost calories from February 14 – April 19 local institution Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush will be offering its famous style of sweet respite, from hearty meals laden with maple syrup to maple taffy on snow, not to mention activities from sleigh rides to interpretive walking trails. www.fultons.ca
As Jantine Van Kregten, Director of Communications at Ottawa Tourism, says: “Snow is part of everyday life for Ottawans and when the mercury starts to drop we can’t wait to get our skates ─ or skis or snowshoes ─ on and get outdoors.
“There’s a fantastic range of activities on offer this winter, many of which are free, and we hope to see many of our visitors do as the locals do and get outdoors rather than hunker up inside in the warm.
“And the best bit is that if you do start to feel the cold you’re never too far away from a reviving hot chocolate, maple taffy or warming BeaverTail pastry.”