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winter sports

10 Tips for Winter Camping

By Red Hunt

Cold-weather camping presents a whole new world of outdoor experiences that can’t be enjoyed during other seasons of the year. Whether you’re roughing it in a tent or sipping hot cocoa in the comfy confines of a yurt, winter camping can be as peaceful or as adventurous as you want it to be. (more…)

2011 Opening Dates at Canada’s Top Ski Resorts

Photo by Patrick Hiu

Last weekend’s East Coast storm was a shocker for some, but winter-sports enthusiasts it meant an early start to the most wonderful time of the year: ski season.

Many resorts are opening early, and in fact, at least one is already open.

Here’s a rundown of ski-season openings for 2011, in order by opening date: (more…)

Hot Date: Cross-Country Ski Competition

Thousands compete in the Gatineau Loppet.

Feb. 18 to 20. On your mark, get set, go! In February, Gatineau Park bustles for the Gatineau Loppet, a cross-country ski competition that attracts about 3,000 participants from around the world (and plenty of cheering fans). As part of the World Loppet league, which includes 14 international cross-country ski events, this competition draws the best of the best to battle it out.

Winterlude: For Foodies and Families and Everyone In Between

It doesn’t get better than this annual outdoor festival that brings the city to life. Taking place from Feb. 4 to 21, these are just a few highlights from the jam-packed, fun-filled celebration that offers something for everyone.

After dusk is the perfect time to go skating on the Rideau Canal. Photo credit: Ottawa Tourism.

There’s nothing more romantic than taking a moonlit skate with your loved one. Whether you’re a seasoned skater or just starting out, it’s all about good old-fashioned fun on the Rideau Canal Skateway. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is 7.8 kilometres long, making it the largest naturally frozen skating rink in the world. Bring your own skates or rent a pair at the locations at Mackenzie King Bridge, Fifth Avenue, or Dows Lake Pavilion. After you’ve finished gliding arm-in-arm up and down the skateway, be sure to warm up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a delicious Canadian treat, the BeaverTail, as you enjoy the pretty winter scenery.

Ottawa’s exciting food scene takes centre stage during Taste of Winterlude. Until Feb. 21, some of the capital’s best restaurants are offering exclusive fine dining experiences, wine pairings, and other culinary delights. Try the “Great White North Beer Dinner and Tasting” on Feb. 8 and enjoy a four-course dinner paired with — what else — premium Canadian beers. There is also the “Savour Ottawa Walkabout Winter Feast” on Feb. 8, during which guests will travel from restaurant to restaurant for a food and wine pairing. A chocolate-making seminar and “Winter Fare & Flair” dinner and fashion show are also on the menu. Activities range from free to $300.

An ice sculpture from the Roger's Crystal Garden. Photo credit: NCC/CCN.

Artists and art lovers alike will fall in love with the Rogers Crystal Garden, where blocks of ice are transformed into masterpieces. Take a stroll through this winter wonderland where the theme is “Harmony by Contrast.” From Feb. 4 to 6, teams from Canada, Holland, China, and other countries will compete to see who can design the best ice sculpture. There will also be a One-Block Challenge on Feb. 4, to be completed in two hours or less using a single piece of ice, and an Ice Carving Championship on Feb. 12, where pro carvers go head to head in an “ice-off.” Afterwards, these majestic structures remain on display in Confederation Park until the end of Winterlude.

Sporty types can get their fill of all things athletic during Winterlude. For those who adore the cold, the Winterman on Feb. 20 is a must. This day of exciting outdoor races kicks off at the Canadian War Museum and includes full and half marathons, marathon relays, and 3, 5, and 10K runs. On Feb. 5, don’t miss the Winterlude Triathlon that’s taking place, with stretches of skating, skiing, and running, or the annual (and hilarious) Bedzzz Race that sees teams face off using a bed on wheels as their vehicle of choice.

Kids have a blast on the slides in the Sunlife Snowflake Kingdom. Photo credit: NCC/CCN.

Hold on to your hats at the Sunlife Snowflake Kingdom! Kids (and those who are kids at heart) will have a blast shooting down more than 20 snow slides in this frozen playground, located in Jacques-Cartier Park. Check out the brand new winter obstacle course and other games like kite-flying races, snow soccer, and extreme wall climbing. You can even try your hand, or rather your feet, at kicksledding, a much-loved Scandinavian activity. Be sure to wear snow pants so you can spend as much time as possible in this icy paradise.

For a complete line-up of events, locations, and other detailed information, check out www.winterlude.gc.ca or contact the Capital Infocentre at 613-239-5000.

Hot Date: Great Skating

Rideau Hall in Winter. Photo credit: Sgt. Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall.

Looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of Ottawa’s downtown core? Visit historic Rideau Hall and enjoy a quiet (and free) skate. Glide back in time to 1872 when Lord and Lady Dufferin first had the rink built and would host skating parties for the public — their only stipulation was that all those attending were “properly dressed.” So make sure you bring your mittens, though you can probably leave your grandmother’s pea coat in the attic. The rink isn’t quite as big as a hockey rink, but there’s usually plenty of room for families and young beginners. Open to the public on weekends from Jan. 7 to March 13, weather permitting.