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  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston
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Winter Celebration

January 6, 2016
Updated - January 13, 2016


Celebrate the Magic of Winter at Rideau Hall

OTTAWA—Join Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston for an afternoon of winter fun during Winter Celebration on Saturday, January 16, 2016, from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Rideau Hall.

This event is an opportunity for you and your family to create new memories while discovering over 15 activities and winter traditions. All activities are free of charge and will take place rain or shine.

The young and the young-at-heart will enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and skating on the outdoor rink (ice conditions permitting).  You will also be able to walk around the Embassy Village and discover how different countries embrace the coldest months of the year by enjoying traditional foods and activities. We will even supply the hot chocolate to keep you warm!

Make it a giving moment by bringing non-perishable food items for the Ottawa Food Bank and Moisson Outaouais or winter clothing for the Snowsuit Fund.

Visitors are also encouraged to post their photos of the day’s activities to social media by using the hashtag #RHPhoto.

Winter Celebration is made possible thanks to the generosity and participation of the embassies of the Republic of Austria, the People’s Republic of China, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Republic of Finland, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of Iceland, the Italian Republic, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Republic of Slovenia, the Kingdom of Sweden and the Swiss Confederation, as well as the European Union Delegation to Canada, the National Capital Commission, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Governor General’s Foot Guards and other participating organizations.

Here is a complete list of activities:


Agriculture: Participate in games to learn about the benefits of eating pulses and how they can be preserved for the winter.

Aviation: Children will be able to become pilots while sitting on a model Silver Dart plane.

Bandy: This precursor of modern ice hockey will engage participants in a form of field hockey on the skating rink (ice conditions permitting). Presented by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden.

Baltic-Nordic Film Festival: Learn about this unique annual film festival.

Biathlon Demonstrations: Coaches and young athletes will demonstrate the skiing and shooting skills required in this demanding sport.

Craft Station: Children will have the opportunity to make Canada-Netherlands friendship mittens at the craft station. Presented by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Chinese New Year: Learn about Chinese New Year’s traditions. A traditional Chinese lion dance costume will be displayed. Presented by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.

Curling: Athletes will demonstrate the ins and outs of this historic sport.  

Dog Sledding: Families can embark on a short, thrilling sled ride on the grounds of Rideau Hall.
*** This activity has been cancelled due to unfavorable snow conditions.***

Fairy Tales and HyggeStories by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen will be read aloud in a “hyggeling” atmosphere. Presented by the Kingdom of Denmark.

Historic Skating Rink: Skate on the historic rink, first established by Lord Dufferin, Canada’s third governor general, in 1872 (ice conditions permitting).

Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides: Take a break and hop on a horse-drawn wagon.

Icelandic Horses: Meet and learn about this breed of small horses native to Iceland. Presented by the Embassy of the Republic of Iceland.

Inuit Traditions: Students from Nunavut will share their Inuit culture and language through drumming, dancing, throat singing and winter activities.

Kicksledding: Try out this traditional means of Nordic transportation. A team from the Embassy of the Republic of Finland will demonstrate kicksledding and encourage visitors to hop on board these chair-mounted sleds.

Nature Interpretation: Learn about what happens to the wild animals of our region and their habitats during the winter months.

Norway Giant Ski and Viking Games: Strap on Velcro bindings on giant skis that hold eight adults at one time and attempt to ski in unison, without stopping or falling over. There will also be Viking-inspired games. Both activities are organized by the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

Obstacle Course and Winter Camp: Members of the Governor General’s Foot Guards will introduce visitors to some of their training exercises with a fun tandem obstacle course and will demonstrate how a military camp is set up for winter.

Science Experiment:  Make winter bubbles with dry ice.

Snowman Challenge: Children of all ages are invited to try and knock the snowman’s hat off his head with snowballs. Weather permitting, young participants will also be invited to build their own snowmen. This activity is presented by the European Union Delegation to Canada and marks the 40th anniversary of  EU-Canada official cooperation.

Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing: Visitors will be invited to explore the grounds of Rideau Hall on a snowshoeing or cross-country ski trail. Snowshoes and skis will be provided.

Winterlude’s Official Mascots: The Ice Hog family—Papa, Mama, Noumi and Nouma—will be on hand to offer warm hugs to children and adults alike.

Tours of the Residence

Visitors will be able to tour the historic residence and see the current exhibit A Reflection of Who We Are: The Canadian Honours System, which explores various facets of the Canadian Honours System. Children will have the opportunity to draw and create their own coat of arms.


Free parking will be available at the National Research Council (100 Sussex Drive, a 10-minute walk from Rideau Hall), and on the streets in the surrounding neighbourhood. Limited parking for mobility-impaired guests will be available on the Rideau Hall grounds via Princess Gate.

For more information, visit or contact us at 1-866-842-4422 (toll-free), 613-991-4422 or at


Media information:
Josephine Laframboise
Rideau Hall Press Office
613-668-1929 (cell)

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