If you ask us, there’s never a better time to visit Ottawa than while the city celebrates Winterlude. Close to 600,000 people take part in Winterlude activities – most of which are free – each year. This year, from January 29th until February 15th, the nation’s capital will be transformed into a variable winter wonderland. From glittering ice carvings and snow sculptures to a gigantic snow playground and explosive shows under the winter sky, Winterlude is a great way to celebrate and enjoy the winter season. Our favorite tradition is skating the Rideau Canal — which coincidently is also the worlds largest skating rink — and stopping in at the various huts set up along the way for hot chocolate, beaver tails and other edibles. Don’t have your skates? No problem! You can rent them at various spots along the canal. If skating isn’t your cup of tea — take in the 36th Annual Accora Village Bed Race on February 6th. In this quirky but beloved Winterlude event, costumed teams race huge decorated beds across the frozen ice! It’s a spectacle you need to see you believe. Of course — there’s also a slew of edible experiences awaiting too! You’ve got to have at least one (if not 5!) Beaver Tails. What’s a Beaver Tail you ask? It’s a delicious, deep-fried flat pastry similar in texture to a chewy, flaky pancake, that traditionally comes covered in your choice of cinnamon sugar or maple butter. Another Canadian staple is Snow Taffy! Pure Canadian maple syrup is heated to precisely 118˚C, then poured over compacted snow to cool, forming a texture similar to taffy. Pop a stick in the middle and you have yourself a portable, all-Canadian maple syrup treat. Find this treat at various vendors pouring canal side. On February 5th, The Byward Market will once again be home to the Winterlude Stew Cook-Off. Hundreds of stew aficionados pack a tent filled with competitors. Bytown meatball and kale stew was our favorite from last year’s competition. Armed with a bowl, a spoon and bread for dipping — it’s a battle of man versus stew. And man (or woman!) always wins. And if none of those strike your fancy — there’s always a great meal to be had in Ottawa. May we suggest warming up over a charcuterie board and a round of locally brewed pints at Murray Street Kitchen in Byward Market? This ‘Aggressively Canadian Kitchen’ is a great way to end an evening or a weekend in Ottawa!