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'The place to be is Sparks Street:' 42nd annual Winterlude begins

The official kickoff to Winterlude happens Friday evening, on the Rogers Stage, on Sparks Street.

Ottawa has begun its annual celebration of all things winter, with three weekends of ice carving, live music, and skating on the iconic Rideau Canal.

Ice carvers from around the globe are in Ottawa to fire up their chain saws, competing as they carve works of art. The Winterlude International Ice Carving Challenge begins Friday morning and will run all weekend long, with the winners announced at an awards ceremony at 4 p.m., Sunday, on Sparks Street, between Elgin and Metcalfe.

The official kickoff to Winterlude happens Friday evening, on the Rogers Stage.

"The place to be Sparks Street," said Melanie Brault, Canadian Heritage. "Sparks Street is where we're going to have our kickoff party, so there's a big show that's going to get started at 7 p.m."

Live music and performances from Morgan Grace, Sarahmée, DJ NDN, and Virginia to Vegas will begin at 7 p.m.

The evening also includes a special performance that will highlight the important role the Métis Nation played in Manitoba's entry into Confederation 150 years ago.

This year's edition of Winterlude offers new experiences at several destinations, including Sparks Street and the ByWard Market, while maintaining iconic activities like skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway and tube sliding at the Snowflake Kingdom in Gatineau.

Temperatures for the first weekend of Winterlude should stay just below the freezing mark, with a few flurries for Friday night and Saturday evening.

"It'll be nice and cool and crisp for all of the Winterlude activities," said Jill Taylor, 1310 NEWS meteorologist.

"It certainly looks and feels very pretty, and it sets the scene, so to speak," said Taylor.

Winterlude continues until Family Day, on Monday, February 17. A full calendar of all Winterlude events is on Canadian Heritage's website.

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