Popular ‘Skate the Lake’ festival cancelled due to poor ice conditions

This year’s unseasonably warm weather has claimed another cherished winter tradition in the capital region.

Skate the Lake, a multi-day skating festival in Portland, Ont., has been cancelled because ice conditions aren’t good enough to hold the event.

The event on Big Rideau Lake was originally scheduled for Jan. 28 and 29 but was postponed to mid-February. On Monday, organizers said it has been cancelled altogether.

“Obviously we are all very disappointed to have to cancel Skate the Lake 2023, but it is the right call,” co-founder and past president Marco Smits said in a news release.

“After postponing the event to Family Day weekend we were hoping for a sustained period of cold temperatures and that just didn’t happen.”

Aside from last week’s polar vortex, temperatures so far this year have been milder than usual, and are expected to continue to be above seasonal norms for the next couple of weeks.

This year would have been the 18th edition of Skate the Lake, which used to be called the International Big Rideau Lake Speed Skating Marathon.

The multi-day skating festival has become a major attraction for skaters from across Canada and the U.S.

Smits said the future is bright for the event and organizers are already thinking ahead to 2024.

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