Winterlude in Ottawa 2023 Ultimate Guide

Winterlude in Ottawa 2023: Ultimate Guide

Winterlude is a special winter festival in Ottawa that people visit from far and wide to partake in all the fun festivities. In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about Winterlude!

Before we proceed, here’s a quick overview of everything you need to know about Winterlude 2023 in Ottawa:

When is Winterlude?

Winterlude starts on February 3 (Friday) and ends on February 20 (Monday). That means it’s almost three weeks of festivities in total this 2023. 

Winterlude doesn’t start or end on the exact same dates every year, which means next year’s Winterlude can begin and end slightly earlier or later than this year’s dates.

Where is Winterlude in Ottawa?

You can find most of the Winterlude festivities in Ottawa at Rideau Canal Skateway, the Canadian Museum of History, and Sparks Street.  

How many days do you need at Winterlude?

To really experience Winterlude in full, you need to spend at least 3 days in Ottawa to try out all the fun activities you just can’t miss. 

In particular, you can enjoy cool activities like skating along the world’s biggest skating rink, the Rideau Canal, or window-shopping in the historic Byward Market

You shouldn’t miss the ice sculpting competitions going on throughout Winterlude too!

What to Expect from Winterlude in Ottawa

You can expect a lot of activity during Winterlude in Ottawa, in particular at Rideau Canal, where the main events take place. You can also find many nighttime events along Bank St. & Spark St., like the ice carving competition.

There are also luminous interactive structures, a public art installation, music, fun children’s activities, informative talks, dancing, and so many more cool things to do!

How to Dress for Winterlude

How to Dress for Winterlude

Because Winterlude takes place during the winter season, you definitely have to wear at least 1 base layer, 1 mid-layer, and 1 outer layer to stay warm enough. You shouldn’t forego wearing mittens and hats to keep off the winter chill.

For specific suggestions on how to dress during Winterlude, you may refer to the table below:

Winterlude Outfit EssentialsSpecifics
1 Base LayerFor maximum breathability without irritating your skin, try to use clothes made from merino wool.
1 Mid-LayerChoose clothes made from fleece because the material stays warm even if damp and dries quickly.
1 Outer LayerGo for clothes that are waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Nylon or polyester clothes are recommended.
Liner GlovesLiner gloves go under regular gloves or mittens and offer added warmth and protection from the cold.
MittensYou can use gloves if you don’t have any mittens, but wool mittens are highly recommended due to them providing more warmth.
HatWhen choosing hats, try to choose ones that are made from wool, fur, polyester fleece, and shearling.
BootsAlways go for thick boots, because the thicker they are, the better they can keep your feet well-insulated despite the ice and snow.
Liner SocksLiner socks are placed before regular socks, in order to add another layer of warmth and protection from the cold.
ScarfScarves, balaclavas, or other articles of clothing that wrap around your neck add more warmth are very recommended in any winter wardrobe.
MoisturizersSkin easily dries out in cold temperatures. Hand creams and lip balms can help prevent skin from breaking due to dryness.
Hand WarmersAlthough not required, hand-warmers help add more warmth and generally last for several hours.

Activities You Should Try in Winterlude

Activities You Should Try in Winterlude

Winterlude in Ottawa is a very festive period in the city, and it’s filled to the brim with so many exciting events and activities you just can’t pass up. With that said, here are some of the fun things you should try during Winterlude in Ottawa:

Skate along the world’s biggest skating rink.

Skate along the world’s biggest skating rink

You can’t celebrate Winterlude without trying out the Rideau Canal Skateway at least once. This UNESCO World Heritage Site will be on its 53rd season of skating this winter, so why not skate down its 7.8km course for yourself?

For more information, you may refer to the table below:

AddressOperational HoursAmenitiesImportant Locations & Contacts
Rideau Canal SkatewayOttawa, ON K1S 0Y1, Canada24/7-Skate, sleighs, & tricycle rentals

-Skate sharpening

-Food & drink kiosks

-Changing rooms


-Warming stations

Sleight/Skate Rentals & Sharpening Services

National Arts Centre (819-576-6839)

Fifth Avenue at Queen Elizabeth (819-576-6931)

Dow’s Lake (613-232-1001)

Lost Children Stations

Queen Elizabeth Drive (NAC & Fifth Avenue): Saturdays & Sundays — 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Colonel By Drive (Bronson Avenue): Saturdays & Sundays — 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Visit the historic Byward Market.

Visit the historic Byward Market

Byward Market is a historic area in Ottawa and is home to many food stalls and local artisans selling their wares. Aside from window shopping and trying out local food like BeaverTails, there’s a lot more you can do here.

For example, there are horse-drawn sleigh rides available for you to try out, or you can go the whole mile and go on a foodie trip by sampling the best restaurants.

 What’s more, there are interactive art installations that you can admire while exploring.

Speaking of restaurants to try out in the actual Byward Market, you can check out the table below for some suggestions:

RestaurantMain SpecialtyAddressMust-Order Menu ItemsPricing
Oz KafeGo here for contemporary Canadian dishes & coffee.10 York St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5S6, CanadaPork Tenderloin, Beet Salad, Mushroom Cavatelli, Pepper Crusted Cornish Hen, Charcuterie Board, Caesar Cocktail, Ginger Honey Badger$
BeaverTailsGo here for fried dough pastries.69 George St, Ottawa, ON K1N 1K1, CanadaClassic, Bananarama, Strawberry Cheesecake, Brownie, Mehple, Triple Trip, Avalanche, Apple Pie, Coco Vanil, Hazel Amour, Killaloe Sunrise$
JOEY RideauGo here for contemporary international & regional dishes.50 Rideau St #106, Ottawa, ON K1N 9J7, CanadaBellini, Poke Bowl, Japanese Dumplings, House Salad, Sliders, Sushi Steak, Espresso Martini, Moscow Mule, Chicken Parmesan, Joey Classic Steak$
Heart & CrownGo here for Irish beers & pub grub.67 Clarence St., Ottawa, ON K1N 5P5, CanadaVarious Beers, Mocktails, Chowder, Fish Tacos, Cesar & Raspberry Mojito, Jerk Chicken Sandwich, Jameson Burger, Roasted Vegetables, Mashed Potatoes$$

*Pricing Guide

$ = Affordable/Budget-friendly

$$ = Mid-range/Slightly more expensive

Learn more about national history and indigenous cultures at the Canadian Museum of History.

Learn more about national history and indigenous cultures at the Canadian Museum of History

The Canadian Museum of History is one of the country’s national museums on anthropology, Canadian history, cultural studies, and ethnology. In particular, it promotes Canadian heritage and helps support any related research.

So if you’re visiting Ottawa during Winterlude and want to learn more about local history and culture while you’re here, this is a must-visit! 

Aside from visiting the museum’s galleries, there’s also a Minsoshkite (Music to Your Ears) show presented by Elmnt FM & Red Music Rising during opening weekend. There’s also a mini powwow and artisan fair promoting indigenous culture.

You may refer to the table below for more information on a few of the events that will take place at the Canadian Museum of History during Winterlude:

EventTime & DatesDescription
Minoshkite, Music to Your EarsFebruary 3, 2023 | 7:00 PM - 10:00 PMA free concert presented by ElmntFM and Red Music Rising.
From Pepinot to PAW Patrol® – Television of Our ChildhoodsFebruary 3, 2023 | 9:00 AM - 4:00 PMAn exhibition on 70 years of Canadian children’s TV programs.

Take a walk along Sparks Street.

Take a walk along Sparks Street

Sparks Street once had the first permanent open pedestrian mall in all of North America, located just a hop, skip, and a step away from Parliament Hill. During Winterlude, it’s one of the main hubs of activity.

From beautiful lighting effects and interactive light structures along the street to the Winterlude National Ice-Carving Championship, it’s a place you have to see for yourself!

Take a look at the following table for more information on the events being held at Sparks Street during Winterlude:

EventTime & DatesDescription
Meet Doctors Without BordersFebruary 3, 2023 | 9:00 AM - 6:00 PMMeet with staff members of Doctors Without Borders and write a message of solidarity for displaced peoples.
Winterlude National Ice-Carving ChampionshipFebruary 3, 2023 | 2:00 PM - 8:00 PMThe yearly Winterlude national ice-carving championship
DJ Rise Ashen at the Musical Shack on SparksFebruary 3, 2023 | 6:00 PM - 9:30 PMMusic with DJ Rise Ashen and special guest dancers
Alouette - Public Art Installation6:00 PM - 10:00 PMPublic Art Installation of Alouette, a replica of the 1962 Canadian satellite Alouette, installed as if it has crash-landed on a parked car
Faces of Centre Block — Ice Carving6:00 PM - 10:00 PMSkillfully created ice carvings inspired by sculptures located in the Centre Block
I Am - Public Art Installation6:00 PM - 8:00 PMA monumental sculpture of a head facing upwards with closed eyes where you can pass underneath
La Cocotte – Public Art Installation6:00 - 8:00 PMA typical and iconic origami fold, the paper hen. The "cocotte" shape, likely of Spanish origin, serves as the emblem of origami in Europe, like the paper crane in Japan.
The French-Canadian Culture with Louis MercierFebruary 4, 2023 | 11:00 AM - 11:30 AMA talk with an ambassador of French-Canadian traditional music
Canadian Museum of Nature - Dinosaur ice digFebruary 4, 2023 | 11:00 AM - 4:00 PMPretend to be a paleontologist or even an ice sculptor by chipping away at an ice block at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
Jessy Lindsay & QattuuFebruary 4, 2023 | 2:00 PM - 2:30 PMExperience Inuit throat singing and francophone indie pop
DJ Dash & The Dakhká Khwáan DancersFebruary 4, 2023 | 8:00 PM - 9:30 PMExperience a fusion of dancing, traditional singing, and storytelling with electronic music.

Where to Eat during Winterlude

Where to Eat during Winterlude

The best restaurants where you should eat while in Ottawa during Winterlude are Riviera Ottawa, Play Food & Wine, and JOEY Rideau.

Exploring Ottawa in Winterlude can get tiring really quickly, so taking frequent breaks and sitting down for a warm meal should be a necessity during your stay. 

With that said, take a look at the details of the mentioned restaurants below:

RestaurantMain SpecialtyAddressMust-Order Menu ItemsPricing
Riviera OttawaGo here for high-end Canadian cuisine.62 Sparks St., Ottawa, ON K1P 5A5, CanadaMushroom Toast, Steak & Fries, Elk Bolognese, Spinach Ravioli, Martinez Cocktail, Tuna Crudo Appetizer, Lobster Spaghetti, Dill Pickle Chip Encrusted Halibut, Purple Rain$$$
Play Food & WineGo here for appetizer-sized all-cuisine dishes.1 York St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5S7, CanadaÑoquis, Scallops, Pork Belly Salad, Hanger Steak, Parisian Gnocchi, Cheese Board, Fig Cocktail, Rainbow Trout, Patagonia Prawns, Grilled Sourdough$$
JOEY RideauGo here for contemporary international & regional dishes.50 Rideau St #106, Ottawa, ON K1N 9J7, CanadaBellini, Poke Bowl, Japanese Dumplings, House Salad, Sliders, Sushi Steak, Espresso Martini, Moscow Mule, Chicken Parmesan, Joey Classic Steak$

*Pricing Guide

$ = Affordable/Budget-friendly

$$ = Mid-range/Slightly more expensive

$$$ = High-end/Expensive 

Where to Stay for Winterlude

Where to Stay for Winterlude

If you’re visiting Ottawa for Winterlude and need somewhere to stay, the best hotels are Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Andaz Ottawa, and Westin Ottawa. 

All these hotels are placed in strategic locations near the main hubs of activity in Winterlude, like Byward Market and Rideau Canal. 

For each hotel’s details, you may refer to the table below:

HotelAddressAmenitiesPricing (1 room, 2 guests per night)
Fairmont Chateau Laurier1 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON K1N 8S7, Canada-Pool


-Free parking

-Air conditioning

-Paid Wi-Fi

-24-hour front desk

-Baggage storage


-Currency exchange

-Full-service laundry


-Wake up calls

-Gift shop

-Daily housekeeping

-Turndown service

-Fitness center


-Business center

-Meeting rooms

-Valet parking



-Table service

-Room service


Andaz Ottawa325 Dalhousie Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1N 7G1-Free internet access

-On-site restaurant

-Fitness center

-Business services



-Meeting facilities

-Welcome beverage upon arrival

Westin Ottawa11 Colonel By Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9H4, Canada-Restaurant

-Fitness center

-Indoor pool

-Hot tub

-Meeting space

-Bicycle rental

-Gift shop

-Dry cleaning service

-Room service

-Wake up calls

-Daily housekeeping

-Turndown service

-Service request