It’s winter in Ottawa! A Winter 2020 bucket list

One of the great benefits to living in Lanark County is its proximity to our Nation’s Capital! Depending on where you are located you can be in Ottawa in a matter of moments. While Lanark county has TONS of winter activities to participate in there are lots of great winter attractions that I look forward to in Ottawa every year. For a city that is USED to winter….it is full of winter “stuff” to do!

Winterlude 2020

From Jan. 31 to Feb. 7, 2020, Ottawa hosts Canada’s annual celebration of winter, Winterlude. A special highlight for children (and the young at heart) is Snowflake Kingdom located in Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, with its collection of huge snow slides and interactive activities. The festival’s International Ice Carving Competition attracts carvers from around the world who transform blocks of ice into spectacular works of art. Visit the sculptures during the day and again at night to see them in all their lit-up glory.

Don’t miss the annual Ice Dragon Boat Festival on Feb. 7-8, 2020 where dragon boats race down the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway. Cheer on the dragon boaters as they race down the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway and then warm up inside the Dows Lake Pavilion during the festival’s free concert series!


Skating on the largest naturally frozen skating rink in the world is a ‘must-do’ on many visitors’ bucket lists. The Rideau Canal Skateway is open to skaters daily from roughly late December to late February, weather permitting, at no charge, although this year we had a very late start just a few weeks ago! There are change huts, skate rental shacks and snack stations all along its 7.8 km (4.8 miles) length. Check the ice conditions before you head out.

If ice conditions don’t allow for skating on the canal, you can head to Ottawa City Hall where the SENS Rink of Dreams, a refrigerated outdoor skating rink, is open from December to March from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. This 12,500-square-foot ice rink features LED lighting, a heated change hut, picnic tables and benches. Skate rentals and skate sharpening are available on site on weeknights and weekends

The Skating Court at Lansdowne also offers a longer skating season that stretches from early December to mid-March. Free open skating sessions are available daily, or you can learn how to skate through one of its skating programs (skate rentals are not available at this site).

Cross Country Skiing

You can access cross-country trails in the heart of Ottawa, including the popular Sir John A. Macdonald Winter Trail (known locally as the SJAM Trail). Its groomed tracks are meant for snowshoeing, walking and fat biking (fat tires NOT people!) for 16 km (10 miles) along the Ottawa River running westward from the Canadian War Museum, near downtown. There are also over 150 km (93 miles) of cross-country ski trails in the Greenbelt area encircling Ottawa. You can use the trails for free and all are suitable for beginners and family outings.


Pack up the family, and head out to one of the toboggan hills in Canada’s Capital Greenbelt. These snowy hills are some of the best in the Ottawa region, and are sure to provide thrills for the young and the young at heart.

The Bruce Pit Toboggan Hill is located in the Stony Swamp section of the Greenbelt. The hill offers great daytime sliding but is not lit at night.

The Conroy Pit Toboggan Hill is located in the Pine Grove Forest section of the Greenbelt. At Conroy Pit, you can toboggan in the evening, as well as during the day. The hill is lit daily from 4 pm to 11 pm.

There are also great toboggan hills at Green’s Creek. These hills are also lit in the evening, extending the fun.


What is on your winter 2020 bucket list??