650,000 expected for Winterlude



David Gonczol/for Metro Ottawa


Greg Solinger and Kate Alsterlund, of the hip-hop dance duo Lynx and Krypto, take a final rehearsal last night in preparation for tonight’s opening Winterlude show at the American Express Snowbowl. Festivities get underway at 7 p.m.


Food. Drink. Music. And ice, lots of ice.

It’s party time.

Winterlude begins today.

Governor-General Michaëlle Jean will kick off Ottawa’s famous three-weekend-long winter festival tonight at 7 p.m. in Confederation Park with an official opening ceremony, followed by a concert headlined by Canadian hip-hop artist, K-OS.

Winter will be well represented at its namesake event. The forecast is for a dump of snow (see story on left) but Winterlude organizers don’t see that as a deterrent for what is a celebration of Canada’s icy clime.

To keep revellers warm, the ByWard Market is hosting its annual stew cook-off event, said Jasna Jennings, executive director of the market BIA. “We’d rather have minus-four and snowing than minus 45,” she said. “The stew will help keep people warm and it’s for a good cause (Have a Heart-Give Smart Campaign), so we’re hoping to see people out.”

More than 650,000 people are expected for an event that, according to a 2004 survey, pumps $82.5-million worth of economic activity into Ottawa’s economy.

Activities get underway this morning when the best ice-carvers from around the world set to crafting sculptures for the 21st International Ice Carving Challenge in Confederation Park.

DJs will be playing at the Crystal Lounge in Confederation Park this weekend, starting at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, while at Gatineau’s Jacques Cartier Park snow-carving crews have been working 14 hour days to prepare massive snow slides and labyrinths at the Snowflake Kingdom.

On Saturday, around 200 skaters will line up at Dows Lake for the 25th Annual Winterlude Triathlon. This year’s version involves an eight-kilometre skate to Pretoria Bridge and back, followed by a five-km ski and a five-km run to Hartwell Locks and back to the Pavilion

City Hall is site of the fourth annual Enbridge free pancake breakfast, which is at 10 a.m. in Festival Plaza.

There are noon-hour concerts on Saturday in Confederation Park and acrobatic kite demonstrations at Dows Lake on Saturday and Sunday.