Ottawa's Winterlude Festival: Celebrate the Magic of Winter in Canada by Sheri B Doyle
As I stood under the winter sky watching slivers of ice fly above me, I realized I had completely forgotten about the freezing temperatures. The artists carving the massive slabs of ice had captured my full attention away from all of the other activities surrounding me.
No detail was spared as they carved life-sized dragons, dinosaurs, unicorns and other animals, or created ice castles and houses fit for a royal. Glistening eagles stood on top of totem poles while other artists carved true-to-life humans. They worked all day and into the night in the sub-zero temperatures, all were competing to win the top prize at Ottawa’s Winterlude Festival.
Each glistening sculpture helped to create the winter wonderland I found myself in for a weekend in February. The competition is what drew me to Ottawa’s Winterlude Festival. It happens every year with some of the best ice sculptors in the world in attendance. Each artist carefully creates their vision using chainsaws, axes and chisels.
Along the river, as colorful knit hats flowed down stream where water runs in warmer months, there were small bonfires, beaver tails and hot beverages to warm us up. We grabbed some ice skates and mingled in with the locals, pushing each other in sleds, making our way through the Crystal Garden. At night we took in concerts and light shows, ate incredible food and warmed up with some of the best coffee I have ever had, outside of Italy.
The culture and warmth of Ottawa enveloped us from the moment we arrived. The charm of the community, the activities and the magical sculptures made it a weekend I will always remember.