This Is The World’s largest Naturally Occurring Ice-Skating Rink
During the winter when Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada freezes up, skaters can use a portion of it which is equivalent to 90 Olympic skating rinks in area
Running through the city center of the Canadian capital of Ottawa, there is a canal called the Rideau Canal. During the winter, this inland water body, which is informally known as Rideau Waterway, freezes up enough so that a portion of it can be utilised as a giant ice-skating rink. As such the canal, which is 202 kilometres (125-mile) long, connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario and Saint Lawrence River, both of which are in Kingston, Ont. The skateable section has a total maintained surface area of 165, 621 m² (1.782 million ft²) — equivalent to 90 Olympic skating rinks in size — and is officially recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest naturally frozen ice rink in the world.
It’s roughly during the first week of January till about the third week of February that this frozen canal is made freely available to the public for skating purposes. Just like the actual dates may vary depending on the prevalent weather conditions, the same goes for the allowable skating length. When everything is hunky-dory, the maximum full length is 7.8-km (4.8 miles) stretching from Downtown Ontario to man-made Dow’s Lake. However, if the poor freezing conditions prevail, the route may be truncated accordingly. As per
The Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Rideau Canal Skateway must be 30 centimetres (11.8 inches) thick before it’s safe to open to the public. For that to happen, the region has to experience at least two weeks of consecutive cold nights (below -10 or -15 degrees Celsius).
Approximately twenty thousand ice-skaters and visitors make it a point to make a pit-stop every day at Ottawa around that time of the year just to enjoy the occasion and the natural phenomenon. In fact, if reports are meant to be believed, both the locals and the visitors get downright impatient eagerly waiting for the track to open.
But what do you do when you want to take a tiny break from skating or even the cold? Well there are many rest stops along the pathway. These rest areas have fire pits, rooms for freshening up and of course vendors selling warm, deep-fried cinnamon and sugar pastries called, ‘Beaver Tails’ — a Canadian classic since 1978.
The temporarily formed rink also hosts a Canadian winter celebration know as Winterlude that takes place during the first three weeks of February. One will also have allied ice related events to keep oneself engaged like the ice carving competitions and the immensely popular ice dragon boat festivals.