Spending an afternoon at Winterlude’s ‘Snowflake Kingdom‘ is much like playing at a winter playground, for kids and for kids at heart (read: immature thirty-somethings like my husband and I).
One of the neat things – if you happen to be an out-of-town visitor to Ottawa for Winterlude – is that the Snowflake Kingdom is held at Jacques-Cartier Park on the Quebec side. So if the nation’s capital is new to you and you’ve never been over the border, you now have a reason to cross the bridge and say you’ve been in “la belle province.”
Parking can be a bit of a challenge, and if you’re not familiar with the area – and even if you ARE familiar with the area – I would recommend parking at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Parking is underground, heated and maxes out at $12 – which is what most of the entrepreneurial Frenchmen around the neighbourhood are charging according to their homemade cardboard signs, anyway. So park at the museum and you’ll be right across the street from this Winterlude venue.
The ice slides are – in my own opinion – the best part of the Snowflake Kingdom, so make sure you wear your skipants. (There’s no room for vanity here – everyone is totally bundled up, and you’ll have much more fun if you’re properly dressed.)
There are a few different choices when it comes to the slides: Kiddie Slides, The Iceberg, and Avalanche & Chinook Tube Slides. We started off at the Iceberg, which was very fun once we finally got to the top of the slide. An important note for rookie sliders: There are two lines at the Iceberg – one for singles and the other for groups. We unwittingly got in the line for singles…which was a big time-waster. It took about three times as long to get a turn, because people were going one at a time instead of bombing down in big groups.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to try the tube slides, but we did spend quite a bit of time on the kiddie slides with our eight-year-old daughter and her friend, as well as our five-year-old daughter. To be honest, we felt that the kiddie slides were nearly as good as the ‘singles’ slide at the Iceberg, and the line moved so much faster.
For my oldest daughter, Elissa, who has been studying Canada’s Aboriginal people at school, it was somewhat serendipitous that there was an Anishinabe (Algonquin) Village display. She seemed genuinely interested in checking out the wigwam exhibit and an interactive display, complete with tools used for survival in the wintertime.
To me, the coolest part of the Anishinabe Village was the performance of traditional songs, accompanied by hand drumming. The beautiful, rhythmic music captured the attention of a huge crowd; undoubtedly the haunting music had bystanders thinking of a rich piece of our cultural history that should not soon be forgotten.