Ottawa’s Winterlude begins – updates on Skateway and Snowflake Kingdom

Rideau Canal Skateway by night. Photo: National Capital Commission, CC some rights reserved

Winterlude kicks off today, with a few small adjustments.

This week’s weather swings forced a mid-week closure of the Rideau Canal Skateway. It was still closed this morning, in fact. But the NCC opened the entire skateway – all 7.8 km – as of Friday afternoon at 2. Current ice conditions are available here. (Just one small side route, Patterson Creek, remains closed as of this writing.)

The opening of the Snowflake Kingdom, at Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, will be delayed until Saturday, February 2 at 9 am.

Word to the wise: official ice conditions ratings for the skateway always strike me as overly-generous.

In my opinion, their “poor” = “horrific”

“Fair” = “marginally skate-able, with care”

“Good” = “fair”

“Very Good” = “great happiness”

When the ice is right, it’s a not-to-be-missed experience. When it’s bad – yikes! Beware!

On the other hand, if the bumps and cracks are too much, you can always drape the skates over your shoulders and have a wonderful time simply strolling the skateway. For uncertain skaters, that’s actually much more fun.

The good news for any regional winter festival is that it’s cold again. Ottawa’s forecast seems cool and stable in the near term to the point where all the snow & ice events may be just fine once more, or will be soon.

I understand NCPR filled two buses with over 100 participants for a Winterlude expedition this Saturday morning. Hopefully that will be a fun time for all.

While on the subject, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival also opens today – it runs from Feb 1-10. If you missed Mark Kurtz’s excellent “All In” photo-essay on harvesting ice to build the ice palace all these many years, do check that out too.

May you enjoy pleasant skiing, skating, snowshoeing – or indoor viewing – where ever you are this weekend!

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