Winterlude is an annual winter festival held in Ottawa, capital of Canada. The event usually runs through the first three weekends in February and attracts thousands of visitors each year. The festival features a variety of outdoor activities, including international ice sculpture competitions, music concerts, children playgrounds, ice lounge, public skating, etc.
The ice sculptures and other artworks are on display at the Crystal Palace in Confederation Park; and are best viewed in the evening when they are illuminated. One of the standouts this year is “Infra”, created by Tonya Hart of Toronto. The artwork is a large display of wolf pack, scattered all over the park. The wolves are made of fiberglass, polyurethane resin and pigments. The artist uses infrared imaginary to represent the thermal energy connection shared by warm-blooded wild animals and human beings. The beautifully presented artwork certainly connects to many viewers.
The 25th Rogers International Ice Carving Competition is one of the major attractions of Winterlude. “Schooling”, one of this year’s many entries, is an ice sculpture of an adult bear teaching its two cubs how to fish. When you are tired after walking around, admiring the sculptures, you may relax at the Ice Lounge inside the Crystal Palace. Everything inside the lounge is carved out of ice slabs … the bar, tables, chairs, couches, bed, everything!
Ice skating on the frozen Rideau Canal is yet another must-do outdoor activity of the festival. With a 60 mile stretch opened for public skating , it is the largest rink in the world. If you feel hungry after all the activities, you must line up for the famous Canadian pastry at one of the BeaverTails food stands. There is one located right on the Rideau Canal’s ice surface, just in front of the brand new Ottawa Convention Center. The pastry is served warm and does wonder to the stomach in the cold weather.
The BeaverTails is a trademark of a line of fried dough pastries, hand stretched to resemble a beaver’s tail. The product received national media attention when it was served at the Canadian embassy during Obama’s inauguration. When U.S. President Obama visited Ottawa on Feb 19, 2009, he made a special stop at the Byward Market on his way to the airport to buy a BeaverTails pastry. The “Obama Tail” is now an official item on the menu. You may also find the BeaverTails pastry at the Canadian Pavilion inside the Epcot Center, Disney World Resort, Florida.