You will find outdoor rinks scattered throughout the Ottawa Valley and the Pontiac. They are where many of us first learned to skate, and where we spend a lot of time in the winter with friends playing hockey or just skating on a cool winter day.
The Festival of Outdoor Rinks is a celebration of this unique part of our culture and tradition. It is a Festival that will have something for everyone in our area, and hopefully bring some new people out to the outdoor rinks. It’s a weekend to travel with skates or without, and take part in a free weekend worth of fun and activity to beat the winter blues.
How the Idea Came To Be
The Festival of Outdoor Rinks was modeled after the Festival of Small Halls, a music festival in Prince Edward Island. When we spoke with the key staff at the Festival of Small Halls, they were more than willing to share the concept of their festival and point out some “lessons learned” along the way. As luck would have it, the Township of Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards had an opportunity to provide us with a test-run of the Festival of Outdoor Rinks event in 2014 when they hosted events at several rinks in their immediate area. The result was overwhelmingly successful and people loved the concept, which drew many residents from outside of their municipal borders for some winter afternoon fun.
With good mentorship and a successful run-through, the Festival of Outdoor Rinks launched on February 19-21, 2016 with 28 rinks participating. As luck would have it, the weather was extremely mild and most of the rinks melted. However, the Festival still attracted 1,500 people who participated in rinks that were operational, and with off-ice activities. The feedback was very positive from the community and from the rinks, making the Ottawa Valley’s winter Festival of Outdoor Rinks a regular part of the event calendar.