OTTAWA -- The 43rd edition of Winterlude will be held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian Heritage announced the in-person events for the annual winter celebration in Ottawa and Gatineau will not be held this year. There will be no Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park or Winterlude destinations in Ottawa.

"Canadian Heritage consulted its partners regarding the format and programming, and explored a variety of options to deliver Winterlude programming in a safe manner," said Canadian Heritage in a statement late Friday afternoon.

"In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s priority of keeping Canadians safe, we decided to host Winterlude online in a way that will bring all Canadians together and allow them to express their love of winter in a virtual environment. Canadian Heritage continues to build on innovative ways to adapt its programming to the current circumstances"

Canadian Heritage adds, "Canadians from coast to coast will be able to enjoy this year's virtual Winterlude 2021. The unique programming will invite all Canadians to celebrate in a new way."

Details on Winterlude's virtual programming will be announced in the next couple of weeks.

On Saturday, many people were disappointed Winterlude will be held virtually this year.

"Winterlude is very much like an experience you kind of want to be there for," said Martin Doung on Saturday. "You know, it's like the atmosphere, all the people, getting a Beavertail, that sort of thing. That is sort of a tradition ya know. Being up close and taking photos. Online doesn't appeal to me so much personally."

"It's something we look forward to every year," said Michelle Jean. "And we've done so much virtual stuff that we're really excited to get outside and do something in our community. So I think it's a disappointment for sure."

But others say a virtual Winterlude isn't so bad.

"It gives people something to do. Something to do virtually, something to look at online. I agree, it's better than nothing," said one person on Saturday.

Another person told CTV News Ottawa, "I think they're doing the best they can with what they've got."

Canadian Heritage says that in according with public health guidelines, the Snowflake Kingdom - normally co-produced with the city of Gatineau - will not take place this year. There will be no Winterlude destinations, including ice sculptures, in Ottawa. 

The 2021 edition of Winterlude was scheduled to begin on Friday, Feb. 5, and wrap up on Sunday, Feb. 21.