OTTAWA -- The annual celebration of winter in Canada's capital region is still taking place this year but, with COVID-19 restrictions keeping people home, Winterlude has gone virtual.

In-person activities have been cancelled. There will be no Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park or Winterlude destinations in Ottawa.

However, the Ministry of Canadian Heritage says there will be plenty of virtual offerings.

The 43rd edition of Winterlude begins at 7 p.m. ET on the ministry's YouTube channel, with a national show that promises to "take Canadians on a cross-country journey to meet talented Canadians sharing what they love about the winter season."

Virtual shows and national museum tours will be available on the official Winterlude website. There is also an official Winterlude 2021 app, which offers playlists, podcasts, master classes, and do-it-yourself workshops, the ministry says.

For the first time in its history, Winterlude has challenged professional Canadian ice sculptors to compete simultaneously in seven cities across Canada: Yellowknife, Banff/Lake Louise, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Gatineau, Québec City and Halifax.

Visitors will have until Sunday, Feb. 21 at noon ET to vote for their top three favourite sculptures.

The results will be announced the week of Feb. 22.

Winterlude runs from Feb. 5 to 21.