The final day of Winterlude looked more like Waterlude as the temperature rose to 6 C and rain began to fall Monday afternoon.
The snow and ice sculptures looked a little less defined, and some had already lost parts, as people packed Confederation Park to take one last look. According to Environment Canada, the average high for Feb. 19 is –3.6 C. The agency also issued a rainfall warning, with up to 40 mm expected to fall across the National Capital Region by Wednesday morning.
“We’re never going to be able to control the weather and that’s true even if we did move it up,” said Nathalie Huneault, spokesperson with Canadian Heritage, who said there aren’t any plans to move the winter festival earlier in the year.
“You never know when you can get a warm front or a cold front or whatever. So, I think the fact of the matter is that we always have plans in place to ensure that we have activities to offer even if it is a contingency plan.”
The warmth may also have been a draw for families, with both Confederation Park and the canal busy. Long lines to see the ice sculptures — and grab a beavertail — continued into the afternoon.
“It’s clear the sites were jam packed for all three weekends. This weekend was very, very busy and we’re confident we far exceeded our average guests,” Huneault said, adding that the winter festival’s average attendance is around 600,000.
Festival attendees were prepared to just roll with the weather.
“I’m taking what we can get right now with the sun and enjoying the last day here and it’s perfect timing,” said Janet Oommen who was attending her first Winterlude after moving to Ottawa from Syracuse, N.Y.