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Things to Do In Ottawa This Winter

Ottawa is so well known for its winter activities that tourism actually heats up once it gets cold out. Those who have winter vacations, but don’t want to trouble themselves or their budget by flying somewhere warm can enjoy mysterious, magical winter attractions in Ottawa. There are family events, romantic experiences for couples, and hockey games and girls nights that friend groups can enjoy. Here are some of our favourite things to do in Ottawa in the winter.

Skating on the Rideau Canal and More

Every year the Rideau Canal, which runs through the heart of Ottawa, freezes, making it a fun thing to do in Ottawa in the winter. The city grooms the ice so that everyone can enjoy 7.2km of refreshing skating. Many locals use the ice to get to work. Tourists can enjoy the sights on the skate way and stop for Beaver Tails, hot chocolate, and enter downtown shops along the way. It’s a perfect family outing during the day, or a romantic skate with a partner at night, when lights cast a glow on the ice.

Looking for something a bit more nature-themed for your skating joys? Try the Forest at Lac de Loups. You can skate or snowshoe on this glorious 3km trail that is as quiet and serene as you expect a winter forest to be.


Ottawa holds an annual celebration of winter called Winterlude. It begins on February 1st and lasts for 18 whole days. Each one has a special event planned, from the ice dragon boat festival to cross country ski races and even ice sculptures to delight you.

While you can catch a glimpse of the festivities throughout Ottawa, you can also head to one of the festivals three main destinations: Byward Market, Snowflake Kingdom and the Rideau Canal.

Snowflake Kingdom is the best destination for those with children, as there are games, slides and climbing playgrounds for them to enjoy. Plus, the whole family may enjoy watching the nearby dog sled races.

When you need to heat up, drop into the shops at the Byward Market. During Winterlude, it is called Crystal Gardens, as it’s the home of the many ice sculptures you can enjoy or sculpt yourself.

The Byward Market

The Byward Market isn’t just a great attraction during Winterlude. It is one of the top Ottawa places to visit in winter. It is a welcomingly warm shopping paradise with over 600 businesses, including small locally owned shops that offer marvelous gifts or souvenirs.

If you want to have quick access to the Byward Market and other things to do in Ottawa in winter, we suggest you stay at the Andaz Hotel. It has an incredible view of our beautiful city.

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