There's no doubt about it. The star attraction of Winterlude in Ottawa, Canada is the Crystal Garden. It is filled with massive ice sculptures on display.
Ice Sculptures of Ottawa
**Note** As of 2019 the Ice Sculptures are now located in the Byward Market.
If you are in Ottawa during the winter, you are in for a treat.
Canada knows how to celebrate the cold and the city comes alive with festivals and outdoor fun.
One of our favourite things to do was walk around the city at night in search of ice sculptures and art displays celebrating winter and all things Canadian.
Once the sun goes down, the lights go up and the artists have the chance for their hard work to shine as colorful lights decorate the ice sculptures creating a beautiful display.
Our first time visiting Ottawa during Winterlude saw the ice sculptures on display in the Crystal Garden at Confederation Park.
Today, they are located in the ByWard Market in the middle of an excellent walking street.
The Ice Sculpting competition is a huge part of Winterlude. People compete from around the world showcasing their carving skills.
The most popular exhibit is the long hall featuring the winners of the ice sculpture competition.
They were all winners in our minds.
Each ice carving was meticulously crafted and the artists paid attention to every detail. What talent they all have.
Ice Sculptures around Ottawa
My favourite exhibit was the painted wolves hanging out in a field. They were beautiful.
Ice for sculpting is different than regular ice.
It is formed in a box and frozen from the bottom so that as it freezes, the bubbles rise.
The top is cut off and a very clear piece of ice is left for the sculpture to do their work.
Tools used for ice sculpting
There are many tools used for sculpting and carving ice.
They first draw the design on the ice and then begin to sculpt with a chainsaw.
They use a chisel to refine the art and then use tools like drills, burrs, shaping discs and rasps.
Dave had the chance to try carving a sculpture and saw just how difficult it was.
But as one professional told us, it's not so bad, if you make a mistake, you add a block of ice and start over.
There are ice sculptures and ice bars all around Ottawa during Winterlude and the winter months.
Be sure to check them out when you are there and be sure to appreciate the artistry that goes into the craft.
The Rideau Canal is a major winter attraction during Winterlude.
Many people skate on the canal, but when the night falls, it's the perfect time to go for a walk.
Ottawa is safe and there are many things to do, don't miss visiting the ice sculptures of Crystal Gardens.
Suggested places to stay in Ottawa
- Fairmont Chateau Laurier – Luxury
- Westin Ottawa – Luxury
- Andaz Hotel – Mid Range
- Hotel Indigo – Mid Range
For more information on Ottawa and Winterlude, check out Ottawa Tourism for all your needs when visiting Canada's Capital City.