Winterlude largely cancelled this year, festival going online

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There won't be snow slides, ice sculptures, bonfires or ice dragon boat races at this year's Winterlude.

Canadian Heritage announced Friday it's cancelling all in-person events at the annual winter festival in Ottawa and Gatineau in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival which runs Feb. 5 to Feb. 21, 2021, will still have programming online, but details yet to be released.

Canadian Heritage nevertheless promises the online festival will allow Canadians to "express their love of winter in a virtual environment."

"Canadians from coast to coast will be able to enjoy this year's virtual Winterlude 2021. The unique programming will invite all Canadians to celebrate in a new way," a news release states.

More information about the online programming will be released in the coming days, said Canadian Heritage.

Winterlude has been held in the National Capital Region since 1979. The federal government estimates an average of 600,000 visitors take part in the festival each year.