After being in a deep freeze for most of January, the weather could not be better to get out and enjoy the first weekend of Winterlude.

Temperatures above freezing are forecast for both Saturday and Sunday, but because it’s been so cold for most of the year, the Rideau Canal Skateway is expected to stay open all weekend.

“Winter has been very good for the canal, in that we were able to open it early,” said National Capital Commission spokeswoman Julie Rocheleau.

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean will officially launch Winterlude Friday night at 7 p.m. on the Snowbowl stage on the Canal near Rideau Street.

The ceremony will be followed by the premier of Ukiuk, a new sound and light show celebrating winter, and a performance by Juno award-winning musician Colin James.

On Saturday morning, hundreds of athletes will toe the line at Dow’s Lake as they skate, ski and run in the 26th annual Winterlude triathlon.

This year, Winterlude is commemorating the 225th anniversary of the founding of New Brunswick at all four official sites.

Approximately 650,000 visitors take part in Winterlude over three weekends.

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