As Winterlude swings into its final weekend of celebrations, this former Ottawa resident can’t help but experience fomo. For anyone who doesn’t know, Winterlude is the February festival celebrated in Ottawa and Gatineau. The family-friendly affair offers outdoor concerts featuring exclusively Canadian artists such as Coleman Hell, ice skating on the rink of dreams outside City Hall or the world’s longest natural rink on the Rideau Canal, ice and snow sculptures, snow playgrounds, and all the beavertails you can eat!
Stranded on the West Coast, I certainly will be missing Winterlude this year. However, I couldn’t help but wonder what similar international events and festivals exist for my overseas friends to get their Ottawa fix. Here’s the 6 I came up with:
Natural Skating Rinks
It’s not Winterlude unless you dust off your skates and stumble around a bit outside. There are many natural skating rinks (though none as long as the Rideau Canal). However, two that stand out are:
1. Ostergotland and Sodermanland, Sweden
Many small lakes in Ostergotland and Sodermanland offer crystal clear skating conditions in the wintertime. Guides can be hired for more elaborate tours of these natural ice rinks.
2. Keystone Lake, Colorado, U.S.A
Skate on the largest natural rink to use a Zamboni! Take a break from skiing or snowboarding and skate amidst the gorgeous mountains surrounding the lake. Join a game of pick-up hockey or just glide on the smooth ice. There are few rinks on Earth that can match the scenic alpine beauty of Keystone Lake (just be sure to take some selfies)!
Ice sculptures attract tired skaters, families, couples, and everyone in between. A casual stroll through the sculpture site allows time for the beavertails to digest and sore feet to take a break from skates. Never fear though…Winterlude isn’t the only game in town when it comes to frozen art.
3. Snow and Ice Sculpture Competition, Harbin, China
This north-eastern Chinese competition draws in teams from around the world. Typical sculptures could include: animals, cartoons, or world landmarks. This year, a Canadian team took second place for their intricate honeycomb and bee design.
4. Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan
For seven days in February, this festival celebrates snow statues and ice sculptures. Snow mazes and playgrounds are constructed while snow stages support a range of musicians. Visitors can also enjoy many regional foods on site.
The concerts are my favourite part of every Ottawa festival. I can’t think of a more Canadian experience than dancing in the snow to keep warm while our national treasures entertain. Outdoor concerts in the cold would certainly fill the Winterlude-fomo void.
5. Horizon Festival, Arinsal, Andorra
This year, the EDM festival takes place from March 26th to April 2nd. It is a must for EDM and festival junkies hosting over 30 parties at 12 venues in 7 days. Music lovers and ski-bums are sure to enjoy this festival.
6. Snowbombing, Mayrhofen, Austria
This electronic music festival takes place at Mayrhofen ski resort and combines skiing and music for four days of fun. The famous European festival expands and often changes locations annually. This year, Snowbombing (in addition to the Austria venue) has expanded to Canada. The Canadian edition takes place at Sun Peaks, British Columbia in early April.
Written by Megan Cary
Learn more at the official Winterlude website.
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