Winterlude 2024

Winterlude is an annual event held in Ottawa and Gatineau every February since 1979. It’s organized by the federal government to celebrate Canada’s northern culture and climate. Increasingly frequent mild February temperatures in recent years have forced organizers to include more attractions and exhibits that are not dependent on cold weather, and to spread the ice sculptures out over the event’s three successive weekends.

It also takes advantage of the nearby Rideau Canal Skateway, which is the venue most dependent on winter conditions. Unfortunately, the Skateway never opened at all last year because the weather was too mild all winter, and this year, only a short stretch of it beyond the downtown area opened on the very last afternoon of Winterlude. Nevertheless, that didn’t prevent large crowds from enjoying the ice sculptures and other exhibits, as well as the many busker performances on Sparks Street in downtown Ottawa.

This year also featured the Bridge of Lights: Echoes of the Eiffel Tower light show put on by the Embassy of France at the rue Montcalm bridge over the Ruisseau de la Brasserie in the old Hull sector of Gatineau. It’s often referred to as the Eiffel Bridge locally because it incorporates an original steel girder from the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Like the main venue on Sparks Street and the nearby Rideau Canal, Brewery Creek also has a large skating area near the Eiffel Bridge, but it too was closed due to the mild weather,

Sadly, I wasn’t able to get to the popular Snowflake Kingdom on the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River this year due to a combination of it not being open initially because of mild temperatures and, recovery from some surgery I had to have. However, I was able to take these pictures on Sparks Street and at the Eiffel Bridge. All were taken with a Nikon D7500, with and without a Nikon Speedlight… and while hiding a rather large gauze bandage under my tuque.

As is my usual practice, I’m always more interested in spontaneous and dynamic photos more than I am in camera club photography technique, and so all these pictures were taken handheld at whatever ISO was necessary to get the shot. While flash would have been very useful for shutter dragged pictures of fire artists and other performers, I refrained from using it for that because I didn’t want to distract the artists or ruin the experience for the audiences. I’m always just some guy with a camera. I have no special access to anything, and so this is all basically just take-what-you-can-get street photography.

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