Ottawa welcomes Old Man Winter and 2000

Ignoring the weather outside is a Canadian tradition, best exemplified by Ottawa tourism officials who shrug off the fact that Bytown is reportedly the world’s second-coldest capital city.

Instead, they eagerly point out all the goings-on in the city once fall is out of the way. It is an impressive list, headed by Winterlude. The annual winter festival will run from Feb. 4-20 and includes ice and snow carvings, figure skating shows, concerts, fireworks and sporting events.

Tonight, Canadians are invited to head for Parliament Hill, as the Peace Tower Clock counts down the final minutes of the 20th century. An accompanying show will feature singers, acrobats, dancers and fireworks. It may be cold, but it will be fun.

Tourism officials are also quick to note that Ottawa’s Rideau Canal becomes what they bill as the world’s longest skating rink during winter. Ottawa will also host the Canadian Special Olympics Winter Games from Jan. 25-30, an event that will draw some 600 athletes from each province and territory.

Outdoor activities aren’t the only reason for visiting Ottawa during the winter, since the nation’s capital has a large number of museums and galleries. Amongttawa museums are the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which will recreate an Indian marketplace for most of 2000; the Canadian Museum of Nature, which counts the tongue bone of a whale among its unusual exhibits; and the Canadian War Museum, which will display works by war artists in every month of 2000 but January.