For the first time in two years, the world’s largest natural skating rink has frozen over, welcoming skaters back as of Sunday, January 21 2024.
The Rideau Canal found in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, had a rough go last year, with mild temperatures forcing it to remain closed to the first time in its 53-year history.
Spanning over 7.8 km long, the frozen canal draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from near and far each season, with a number of food and beverage stands for skaters to stop, refuel, and warm up at.
It has even been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, first opening back in 1971.
Today, it’s not uncommon to see Ottawa residents commuting to and from work via the canal, briefcases in hand!
In order for the natural rink to be considered safe for ice skating, the city requires there to be at least 10 to 14 consecutive days of temperatures between -10 to -20 C, allowing the ice to reach a minimum of 30 cm in thickness.
Luckily, it has met such requirements just ahead of the annual Winterlude festival, which occurs every February.
The canal is expected to remain open until late February or March, depending on the weather.
If you’re up for a road trip, Ottawa is roughly a 4 hour drive from Toronto, and makes for a lovely winter escape. Sharpen those skates, bundle up, and stop for a Beavertail or hot chocolate during your outing.