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Winterlude Events That You Need to Attend

February 6, 2023

Winterlude is finally here!  After a few years, it is finally back for everyone to enjoy the amazing sculptures, concerts, ice skating, and live performances. There is so much to do this year at Winterlude. Here are some of the events you don’t want to miss out on this year. 

Rideau Street

Start your Winterlude adventures on Rideau Street, home to the Rideau Canal, the National Arts Centre, and the historic Rideau Hall. Rideau can help you enjoy your time at Winterlude with many restaurants to eat at, coffee shops to get a warm drink and the Rideau Centre to shop or eat before or after your adventures. 


Rideau Canal Skateway 

The Rideau Canal is currently not open for use. Please be informed that some events may be changed. Consult the National Capital Commission (NCC) website for more information and updates on the Rideau Canal Skateway:

The Rideau Canal has been a Canadian pastime for years and is considered to be the longest skating rink in Canada. Get excited to skate the canal during Winterlude and experience winter like a true Ottawain! 

Image by Ottawa Tourism

Beavertails Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival 

Unfortunately, the Beavertails Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival has been canceled due to the conditions of the canal but click here for any future changes:

Each year at Winterlude, the world’s largest ice dragon boat race is one of the biggest events that happen on the Rideau Canal Skateway. 

Watch international teams from around the world glide on the Rideau Canal in beautifully decorated dragon boats. Bring your family and friends to one of Ottawa’s bucket-list-worthy festivals and make sure you grab a hot chocolate with a Beavertail in hand and enjoy this memorable pastime. 

For more information:

Image by Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival

National Arts Centre 

Stay warm and cosy at the National Arts Centre and experience some of the performances that will be held now through the end of Winterlude. Here are some of the performances that you need to see: 

🌟Alex Cuba 
📅February 4th at 7:30 p.m. 
📍Babs Asper Theatre 

🌟Is God Is 
📅February 9th to February 18h
📍Babs Asper Theatre 

🌟Toronto Symphony Orchestra 
📅February 11th at 8:00 p.m. 
📍Southam Hall 

🌟James Bailey 
📅February 11th at 8:30 p.m. 
📍National Arts Centre 

🌟Vance Joy 
📅February 12th at 8:00 p.m. 
📍Southam Hall 

🌟Big BANG Festival
📅February 18th to February 19th 
📍National Arts Centre 

🌟Jack Whitehall
📅February 19th at 8:00 p.m. 
📍Southam Hall 

Image by National Arts Centre – Is God Is Production

For more details on events taking place at the NAC:

Rideau Hall’s Winter Celebration 

Discover Rideau Hall’s beautiful grounds as you skate around the Winter Pavillion! Stop at the Rideau Hall residence and visit the State rooms where the Governor General fulfils official duties and hosts dignitaries and honours all Canadians. 

Make it a family fun day, or bring your significant other for the perfect winter-themed date. 

For more information:

Drag Storytime

See local drag celebrities China Doll and Cyril Cinder alongside Monkey Rock Music for Drag Storytime at the National Arts Centre! 

For more information:

Image by National Arts Centre

Queer, Trans and Black Excellence 

We can’t think of a better way to spend a Friday night than watching Drag Queens perform in a beautiful art gallery! 

Grab your bestie and head to the National Art Gallery to celebrate Queer Black Excellence showcase! Hosted by BLK PRL with performances by Ottawa’s own Aimee Yonce Shenell, Witch Prophet, Omari B. Johnson, Viva Van Diva, and Canada’s drag superstars Kiara and Kendall Gender. 

For more information:

Capital Pride Ice Parade 

You do not want to miss Canada’s first-ever Pride parade on ice! Bring your friends, lace up those skates and be loud and proud on the Rideau Canal Skateway. See your favourite Drag Queen superstars on skates while listening to music featuring DJ BLK PRL.

Community members, festival-goers and allies are all invited to take part in this celebration of pride either in skates or on foot.

For more information:\

Image by Capital Pride

Byward Market

The Byward Market is Rideau Street’s friendly neighbour and is a great destination to visit during Winterlude. The area bursts with art installations, wagon rides, food and live music. You will definitely need to add the market to your winter itinerary. 

Art Installations 

Start your day by exploring the OPTIK and the Sonic Runway art installations. First see the OPTIK installation that  allows everyone to play with their surroundings, the idea is to rotate the art piece as it creates an endless array of colours. Next step into the Sonic Runaway and be enchanted with colourful arch ways. 


📍William Street Performance Area 

📍74 George Street 

📍Behind the Hudson’s Bay on George Street 

Image by Byward Market

Complimentary Wagon Rides with Cundell Stables

What better way to explore Ottawa’s historic Byward Market than by taking a wagon ride pulled by two beautiful horses. Make it the perfect day with family or a romantic evening with that special someone. 

Sign-up at the pick-up location at William Street Performance Area. Available from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM from Saturday to Sunday until the end of Winterlude. 

Image by Byward Market

Live Music at The Rainbow 

The Rainbow Bistro is Ottawa’s legendary home of live music, playing host to iconic musicians such as Blue Rodeo, Tom Wilson, k.d. Lang and legends The Tragically Hip. It’s exciting to have The Rainbow as part of the Winterlude line-up. 

Jam out to the variety of bands and musicians playing at the Rainbow and check out the full schedule to see who’s coming! 

See the full schedule:

Image by Rainbow Bistro

Snow Walkers 

Can you discover the Snow Walkers wandering around the Byward Market. Take out the kids to see the stilt walkers taking over the Byward Market and make their experience that much more thrilling during the Winterlude season. 

See them walking around the market every weekend during Winterlude from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. 

Sparks Street 

Another neighbour South of Rideau Street, is Sparks Street, the hustle and bustle of historic and pedestrian street. It is the perfect location to host ice sculptures competitions, musical performances and more. See what they have to offer! 

National Ice-Carving Championship in Ottawa, Presented by Tim Hortons 

If this is your first time experiencing Winterlude in the Nation’s Capital, it is a must-see event that you have to experience in person. 

See master ice carvers, create their masterpieces in front of your eyes and see a block of ice become something spectacular. 

For more information:

Image by Sparks Street

Mystika Circus and Mystika Fire Show 

Be amazed and discover the dazzling performances by Mystika that will have your jaws dropping! 

See the talented performers perform stunning acrobatics, dancing with fires in their hands and do eye-catching gymnastics. 

For more information:

Drag on Sparks Street 

Have you ever been to an outdoor, Winter drag show? Well you can! See Ottawa local Drag Queens and Kings  perform in the outdoors on Spark Street featuring Sunshine Glitterchild, Cyril Cinder, Adrianna Exposée, Devona Coe, Saltina Shaker and oh, honey there’s more! 

Silent Disco 

Grab your headphones and take part in the outdoor silent disco along Sparks Street and dance silently along to three DJ’s, DJ RoxySunset, DJ Martin Leguerrier, and/or KHAØS.