Ziplining, Dragon boats on ice, all part of 39th Winterlude Festival
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Thursday, January 12, 2017 4:56PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 12, 2017 6:50PM EST
The colder weather on the way is welcome news for organizers of this year's Winterlude Festival.
The festival gets underway in about three weeks and promises to be a big one for 2017.
What do you get when you mix a mega zip-line with a lasar show and a dragon boat race?
You get this year's version of Winterlude.
Picture this: dragon boat paddlers slicing their way, not along the water, but along the ice on the frozen Rideau Canal. It will be a North American first, according to Katherine Cyr, with Canadian Heritage.
“This year, we are excited to have the first ice dragon boat race in North America and the biggest in world,” says Cyr, just after a news conference unveiling events for Winterlude 2017 in the nation’s capital, “This is people in dragon boats on ice, literally pushing the boats forward not with paddles but ice picks. It's absolutely amazing.”
Expect to move and to be moved by the interesting sites and sounds of the 39th annual Winterlude running the weekends of February 3 to the 20th, with concerts every weekend and an array of activities including a lasar show, a bed race, events on the canal and at Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques Cartier park including a 500-foot zip line, double the one last year zipping over a giant Canada 150 maze.
“For the first time, Winterlude will offer a grand finale for the 150 celebration, says Julie Descoteaux with Canadian Heritage, “so be ready to heat up and melt our capital.”
And speaking of melting, the ice on the Rideau Canal is clearly not ready for skaters, let alone Dragon Boats.
“It's really a unique experience to skate on a river,” says a man walking by the canal, “it's a once in a lifetime thing.”
“I hope it freezes,” adds a woman, “because it's depressing; we need cold weather, -15 to -20 and sunshine and we're good.”
In the Byward Market, Winterlude kicks off February 3rd with the 26th annual stew cook-off, which has moved to a new location this year at York and William because of construction.
“Ten dollars gets you all you can eat stew,” says Jasna Jennings, with the Byward Market BIA, “prepared by 20 to 25 Byward market restaurants; all the money goes to charity.”
Winterlude generally draws around 600-thousand people to the various sites around the region. It's expected more will come to help celebrate Canada's 150th.