At this time of year, winter is still fun, especially since the weather has been so mild this season. Canadian residents attempting to ward off "cabin fever" or event and meeting planners bringing groups to Ontario or Quebec for conferences, business meetings or corporate events can explore these winter wonderlands with exciting special events.
For 3 consecutive weekends, beginning January 21, 2012, this annual winter festival at Parc Jean Drapeau is hosted by outgoing mascot Boule de Neige. Play in the snow, go tube sliding, ziplining, and skating beside the St. Lawrence River. If you've never tried downhill skiing, Mysnow Experience has been created especially for novices. Of course, no Montreal winter would be complete without ice hockey. Take your best shot for some pick-up hockey at Intact Insurance Rink. No skates? No problem. Centre Belles Bottines offers boot hockey.
New this year, the Winter housing Village showcases First Nations tee-pees and yurts. At Parc Jean Drapeau, be sure to visit the new Snow Village and Ice Hotel profiled last week.
Dubbed as one of the world's largest winter festivals, from February 16 - 26, 2012, MONTREAL EN LUMIERE, combines culture and arts events, culinary events with world renowned experts, and free outdoor activities at Place des Festivals at Quartier des spectacles.
Every year, arts and cultural organizations throw open their doors all night. Many of them stage outdoor exhibits and performances at this spectacular showcase. This year is no exception. Nuit Blanche a Montreal will take place on Saturday, February 25, 2012. Most of the activities are free.
Quebec City's annual Winter Carnival with its colorful nightlife has earned its reputation as one of the world's most vibrant winter carnivals. This year, mascot Bonhomme Carnaval will again host the celebrations from January 27 to February 12, 2012. The night parades on February 4 and 11th are not to be missed. Adrenaline junkies can choose from the 400-foot Uniprix Ice Slide on the Plains of Abraham (a historical battleground), dogsled racing, Kraft Snow Rafting, and COLD-FX Snow Baths. (I think I'll pass.) If you're not into extreme sports, try tubing on the carnival snow slides, ice skating, or sleigh rides. Arm chair athletes can watch unique spectator events including CMQ Canoe Race Finals, the St-Hubert Derby qualifies (with horses), or the TELUS International Snow Sculpture Competition. After your outdoor activities, warm up in the Arctic Spas Village or chill-out at the TELUS Technologique Zone.
For unique places to stay, try the Quebec City Ice Hotel or go winter camping on the Plains of Abraham.
Unfortunately, Toronto's annual WinterCity Festival will not take place in 2012 as Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall is undergoing revitalization.
Winterlicious, an annual culinary event which runs from January 27 - February 9, 2012, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. It showcases Toronto's top dining establishments and hidden gourmet gems. Winterlicious encourages Toronto residents and visitors to venture out to dine during the frosty winter months. So take a stroll, snap lots of photos and go window shopping. 175 Toronto restaurants are offering tantalizing, fixed price, Winterlicious lunch and dinner menus. Restaurants begin accepting reservations today.
Ottawa (Ontario) & Gatineau (Quebec)
On February 3, 2012, musical fireworks at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau will kick off this annual celebration that will run until February 20, 2012. Earlier in the day at 5:30, celebrity chef Lynn Crawford from Toronto's Ruby Watchco Restaurant, will unveil a special 4-course farm to table dinner menu.
Gatineau's Jacques-Cartier Park is undergoing transformation into the Winterlude Snowflake Kingdom, the largest winter playground in North America. Visitors will spend the day sliding, kick sledding, going for sleigh rides, navigating obstacle courses, and taking photos of the stunning snow sculptures.
Every year, Ottawa's Rideau Canal is transformed into the world's largest skating rink. The 4.85-mile route will take you on a tour of Ottawa's downtown core. If you've ever wanted to try ice climbing, take advantage of the opportunities in the Ottawa Valley.
Photo Credit: msuga
Photo Credit: roberlafond2009
Photo Credit: vanou
Photo Credit: Jacob Earl
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