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Winterlude kicks off in Ottawa-Gatineau, here are the changes this year

Winterlude kicks off in Ottawa and Gatineau this year with a few changes to keep the beloved winter festival viable during the mild weather conditions.

The Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park is closed for the opening day, due to the weather conditions. It will open on Saturday, featuring snow tubing, obstacle courses, a breakdance battle and many more family-friendly activities.

Meanwhile, the Rideau Canal Skateway, a popular Winterlude destination, remains closed this weekend after a stretch of mild weather.

Canadian Heritage says it is making changes to the lineup to accommodate weather conditions, including partnering with over 30 partners and diversifying the festival’s portfolio between indoor and outdoor activities.

“In the past, we used to do the completion, ‘the ice carving competition’ on weekend one and the ice carving would stay up for three weeks,” Melanie Brault told CTV News Ottawa.

She says what’s making this year different is getting to see ice carvings happening live in front of you on Sparks Street all three weekends of Winterlude.

“What we’re doing this year, and it’s actually the first time, (is) the ice carving would be done every single weekend,” Brault added.

The national capital region’s winter festival runs from Feb. 2 to 19, with more than 200 indoor and outdoor activities in Ottawa and Gatineau, showcasing Indigenous culture, Canadian diversity and significant anniversaries.

Here’s what’s happening on Kick off day:

Snowy Trophy

The Snowy Trophy is a snowman building competition that takes place in the Glebe, where families and kids build something from snow and send an email to to win a Glebe themed prize. It runs from Feb. 2 to 19.

Rink of Dreams – Skating

Families and their kids not only get to skate on the state-of-the-art refrigerated ice rink, but also get to enjoy delicious local favouratives at the Rink of Dreams, which is open Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. at 110 Laurier Ave. West.

Parliament: The Immersive Experience

Shows, street artists, exhibitions and local art are available for kids, families and adults at 211 Sparks St. Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m..

“Explore the heart of Parliament through an immersive multimedia experience!” read the festival’s website.

Arctic: Our Frozen Planet

You can also join a “breathtaking expedition across the seasons and three continents in ARCTIC: Our Frozen Planet,” which is also happening Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m..

Eiffel Bridge Illumination

Eiffel Bridge Illumination, Winterlude (

A 10-minute light show will be running on a loop from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every night this weekend on the Montcalm Street Bridge in Gatineau. Viewing is free.

Residents can visit the calendar of events for more information and those interested in volunteering can explore the opportunities available.

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