Hosted in the Nation’s Capital, in the heart of traditionally cold Canadian winter weather, the BeaverTails Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival will return to in-person festivities February 4-21 as part of Ottawa’s 44th Annual Winterlude.

“Sports, music, the arts and community are essential to the wellbeing of our physical and mental health and overall quality of life.” says Antony Cooper, Director of Operations “It’s these things that we want to celebrate” adds Shelley Freake, Director of Teams. “It’s with that in mind that makes us look forward to welcoming back old friends and meeting new ones for our most exciting edition to date”.

Organizers anticipate 1,200 competitors representing teams from across Canada and around the globe will brave the cold on the Rideau Canal Skateway at Dows Lake. Boats are adorned with dragon heads and tails and are equipped with skate-like blades that glide along the frozen 100-meter race course as competitors use spiked ice-picks in pursuit of championship gold!

The BeaverTails Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival will take place on unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation and will honour this with a special presentation by Indigenous Experiences as part of the event’s Opening Ceremony.

The festival also honours the cultural traditions and rituals of dragon boat racing with a performance by the Success Dragon Lion Dance, followed by the centuries old tradition of the mythological eye-dotting ritual which breathes fire into the ice dragon boat festival, to awaken the spirit of the dragon.

Performing the National Anthem will be C5: The Chinese Canadian Children’s Choir of Canada, who help celebrate the relationship between Canada’s capital City, Ottawa, and its sister city, Chinese capital, Beijing.

Spirits and competition will be high for the 6th annual ODBF Shiver ‘N Giver fundraising races which are held on February 11th under the night sky on an LED lit race course. Races will be held for the top fundraising teams in the Mixed Division and Women’s Divisions. Our partners over at ODBF.CA invite supporters to warm their hearts this winter and raise funds through the ODBF Shiver ’N Giver Fundraising Drive to raise money for local charities including The Snowsuit Fund, The Lotus Centre For Special Music Education, Tim Hortons Foundation Camps, Youth Services Bureau Foundation and more.

Competition heats up as the temperature drops following the first ceremonial musket shot being fired by members of the 100th Regiment of Foot prior to the start of races on Saturday the 12th. After a full day of races the day’s Champions will be crowned in a closing awards ceremony at HMCS Carleton.

Also on February 12th the organizers will introduce IDB1’s, single person “ice dragon boats”, as a recreational and competitive sport leading to Ottawa hosting the 1st IDB1 World Championships in 2023. The IDB1’s will be hosted indoors at TD Place Arena and outdoors at Lansdowne Skating Rink, simultaneous to the team competition being held on the Rideau Canal Skateway at Dows Lake.

From the 4-21 free indoor concerts featuring an all Canadian lineup will be held throughout Winterlude at Ottawa’s legendary home of live music, the Rainbow Bistro. The full lineup will be released soon but some early teasers include Lynne Hanson, Rory Taillon, and Barry & the Blasters.

Also taking place from the 4-21, Street Offerings Scavenger Hunt will provide a daily chance to find one-of-a-kind art offerings from local francophone multi-disciplinary artist CoBlou at various locations around the city! This interactive experience is designed to encourage people to explore the festival’s various sites and its host city, while exercising the mindful act of observing their surroundings.

Due to the ongoing pandemic the festival will challenge participants to earn their commemorative medal for the Conquer the Capital virtual challenge. Registrants can skate, ski, snowshoe, walk or run, from any location in the world, for a cumulative distance of 21k to be completed over the duration of an iconic Canadian tradition…Winterlude!

Vaccinations will be mandatory for the BeaverTails Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival in accordance with local public health and government guidelines. The festival will be offering full refunds to participants should the event be cancelled due to government mandated public health restrictions.

“The return to in-person festivities is an integral part of a healthy community and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the 44th Annual Winterlude.,” says John Brooman, CEO of the BeaverTails Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival. “We look forward to seeing everyone in February”. 


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