When I booked the weekend to Ottawa, I had no idea that it was the Winterlude Festival. I found out last week that I would be arriving on the opening weekend. My hostel was only a two minute walk from one of the venues as well which was perfect.
On my first visit to Centenary Park they were still setting up, so it was nice and quiet and I could potter around seeing what was what. The one block ice sculptures were amazing. There were log fires and lots of places selling pizza, Beavertail, hot chocolate and maple taffy. The maple taffy was delicious! They heat up maple syrup and pour it onto snow/ crushed ice and then put a lolly stick in it roll it to make a sticky chewy lolly. It was super tasty. I had a few this weekend. The lady let me roll my own as well.
I went back in the evening for the opening ceremony. A canadian chap was hosting and everything was being said in French and English. There were people banging drums with flaming drum sticks and lots of cover music such as Elvis songs. The host guy also sang the song off the Trio advert. The actual song. All I heard in my head is “Triiiio, I want a Trio and I want one now”. There were some dancers in the crowd banging drums and making some sort of noise that I assume they enjoyed making. They wore masks like Wrestlers. It was fun and entertaining, but a little confusing. I had a hot chocolate in a little cafe built out of ice blocks with ice tables and seats.
Jacques-Cartier Park – this venue was called Snowflake Kingdom. It was the site for the snow activities. It had so many ice slides which were great fun, though obviously I was the person that stopped before the bottom and had to be pushed down the last bit. Big walls of carved ice. Hot chocolate, Beavertail, maple taffy. I went on the zip line and watching the huskies pulling the sleds, though they reminded me of the dog that killed our Larry which made me sad. No other sheep will ever compare. There was a strange refuge tent to get out of the cold filled with tables – it was horrific and full and busy, and noisy.
The final site I visited was Lansdowne Park where there was an attempt to beat the world record for most snowmen built in an hour happening. They did beat the record and 2069 snow people were built! There was a farmers market near here so I had a potter about and bought some food and tasted samples. I had elk, it was really chewy.
There were some guys dressed in stereotype lumberjack gear called the Kettle Boys doing branding on wooden slats for people and showing wooden toys they had made. They brand a piece of wood with a maple leaf for me as a souvenir.
A fantastic festival to visit and I would definitely recommend it. The maple taffy, lots of hot chocolate, ice and snow are some of the things that drew me to Canada and had me looking forward to winter.