Andrea Stockton, staff writer
February 6, 2011 — The 33rd annual Winterlude festival kicked off on Friday and has thousands of Canadians flocking to Ottawa.
The winter festival season is underway in parts of Canada, but one of the biggest celebrations kicked off on Friday. Winterlude is a famous annual tradition in Ottawa and attracts residents from all over the country. Throughout the month of February, about 650,000 people are expected to attend the event.
The celebrations include an ice carving competition, giant snow slides and skating on the Rideau Canal. Since 1971, skating on the Canal has been a tradition in the Nation's Capital.
The Canal suffered some setbacks at the beginning of January this year due to the milder conditions. “We had warmer weather and that was mixed with rain, which had a negative impact on the ice growth,” explains Jasmine Leduc with the National Capital Commission (NCC).
But maintenance crews have been working to get the ice in shape and now conditions across the skateway are reported as “good.”
Winterlude organizers say they couldn't have asked for better weather to kick off this year's event. There's a fresh blanket of snow from Saturday's surprising storm and the 'Groundhog Day Storm' on Wednesday.
The festival, which runs until February 21, gives Canadians a chance to escape the winter blues and celebrate the frosty season.