Though the locks are closed in winter, you can still enjoy other activities including skating, ice-fishing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Rideau Canal Skateway

Every winter the Rideau Canal transforms into the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink. Welcoming nearly one million visitors each year, the skateway is 7.8 km long stretching from Ottawa downtown to Dows Lake. The Rideau Canal Skateway is available (weather dependent) from January to late February/early March, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. There is no cost for using the rink.

In Ottawa, you may rent a pair of skates or sleighs from Capital Skates on the Skateway near the National Arts Centre or at Fifth Avenue. On the opposite end of the Canal, visit the Dows Lake pavilion for rentals.

Created in 1979, Winterlude is a celebration of Canada’s unique northern culture and climate. Festival activities include (but are not limited to) ice skating, culture and live music shows along the Rideau Canal Skateway, ice sculpture competitions at Confederation Park, and skating and games for children at Jacques-Cartier Park. For more information, click here.

Can I skate on the Rideau Canal?

Every winter the Rideau Canal transforms into the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink. Welcoming nearly one million visitors each year (a daily average of 20,000 visitors), the skateway is 7.8 km long stretching from Ottawa downtown to Dows Lake.

When is the Canal transformed into a skating rink?

The Rideau Canal Skateway is available (weather dependent) from January to late February/early March.

What hours can I access the skating rink and is there a cost?

Once open for the season (weather permitting) it is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. There is no cost for using the rink.

Where can I rent skates?

In Ottawa, you may rent a pair of skates or sleighs from Capital Skates on the Skateway near the National Arts Centre or at Fifth Avenue. On the opposite end of the Canal, visit the Dows Lake pavilion for rentals.

What is the Winterlude Festival?

Created in 1979, Winterlude is a celebration of Canada’s unique northern culture and climate. Festival activities include (but are not limited to) ice skating, culture and live music shows along the Rideau Canal Skateway, ice sculpture competitions at Confederation Park, and skating and games for children at Jacques-Cartier Park. For more information, click here.

Snowshoeing, Sledding, Cross-country Skiing

Snowshoeing, sledding, or cross-country skiing will get your pulse racing. Show your adventurous side and visit one of Rideau’s stunning trails for some cross-country skiing. New in North Grenville is a sledding hill at Ferguson Forest Centre. If you’re looking to go cross country skiing, hit up Murphy’s Point Provincial Park or Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area for some shorter trails. Go big and head over to the Cataraqui Trail which has over 200 kilometers of groomed trails ready to be explored! With 800 acres of forest, ponds, and fields, Foley Mountain in Westport has so much to offer. Snowshoeing is not only an exciting way to see the countryside but a workout at the same time! The highlight of the trail is Spy Rock Lookout which gives a panoramic view of the snow-covered village.