Q: Are there special packages for this year's Winterlude?
-- M. Khoury, Brampton
A: Ottawa is preparing for its 35th Winterlude. The crowd-pleasing winter festival runs Feb. 1-18 this year and will once again be big on skating, snow sculptures and outdoor winter fun. Also watch for concerts and zany competitions. And don't forget to skate down the Rideau Canal, the world's largest skating rink.
There are nine official Winterlude hotels with special rates and packages. Here are three examples:
-- The Fairmont Chateau Laurier has a Wildly Winterlude deal from $179 per night. It includes overnight accommodation and coupons for BeaverTails pastry and hot chocolate for a family of four.
-- The Lord Elgin Hotel has a Winterlude Getaway from $189 that includes skate rentals, Starbucks coupons, buffet breakfast, accommodation, free Wi-Fi and unlimited local phone calls.
-- Rooms at the Courtyard Marriott start at $135 plus $20 for daily parking.