About Winterlude

An idea with a snowball effect!

The National Capital Commission (NCC) created Winterlude in 1979 to celebrate Canada's unique northern culture and climate. Organizers were inspired by our ancestors who would gather to enjoy each other’s company during the long winter months.

Since then, Winterlude is held in Ottawa-Gatineau every year in February. We’ve added new activities over time like the famous Bed Race and the Waiters and Waitresses on Ice Challenge. There’s also Trotting on the Rideau, a horse race on the Rideau Canal Skateway that kicked off the very first Winterlude in 1979.

Now considered the flagship event of the winter tourist season in Canada's Capital Region, Winterlude is proud to be among the prestigious Ontario Signature Experiences as well as the Top 100 Events in the United States and Canada 2021 according to BizBash. On average, 600,000 visitors take part in the festivities.

Year after year, Winterlude runs smoothly thanks to the precious help of 800 volunteers.

In collaboration with many partners, it offers a rich and varied program. Must do winter pleasures such as tube sliding, skating and admiring snow and ice sculptures share the spotlight with a cultural program.

Loving winter outdoors AND staying toasty warm inside… THIS is Winterlude!

Winterlude history

Winterlude over the years

Here are a few key moments that have marked Winterlude’s history.

Winterlude mascots — the Ice Hog Family

There are many legends about the origin of Ice Hogs. The most realistic suggests that it dates back to the last Ice Age. These mysterious hairy and cuddling animals likely appeared... out of a magical ice vortex.

Winterlude mascots

During the 1970s, Papa Ice Hog made his first expedition to Canada's Capital Region through a secret passage under the Rideau Canal. Having never travelled south of the 49th parallel, imagine his surprise when he discovered that humans enjoyed snow, ice and the cold as much as he did!

A beautiful and long-lasting friendship was born from this shared love for the joys of winter. Ever since, whenever they get the chance, Papa, Mama and their children, Noumi and Nouma, spend their annual vacation at Winterlude, for the delight of young and old alike!

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