Gatineau (2001 census population 226,296) is a city in western Quebec, Canada. It is situated on the northern bank of the Ottawa River, immediately across from Ottawa, Ontario, and is located within Canada's National Capital Region. Ottawa and Gatineau comprise a single Census Metropolitan Area.
The city contains a campus of the Université du Québec, the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO).
It is also the home of two provincial junior colleges (or CEGEPs): the francophone CEGEP de l'Outaouais and the anglophone Heritage College. The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) has a campus in Gatineau.
Two important tourist attractions located in Gatineau are the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Casino du Lac Leamy. In August, the Casino hosts an international fireworks competition which opposes four different countries with the winner being awarded a Prix Zeus prize for the best overall show (based on several criterias) and can return in the following year. At the beginning of September, on Labour Day weekend, Gatineau hosts an annual hot air balloon festival which fills the skies with colourful gas-fired passenger balloons.
There are many parks. Some of them are well gardened playgrounds or resting spaces while others, like Lac Beauchamp Park, are relatively wild green areas which often merge with the woods and fields of the surrounding municipalities. Streams of all sizes run through these natural expanses. Most of the city is on level ground but the Northern and Eastern parts lie on the beginnings of the foothills of the massive Canadian Shield, or Laurentian mountains. These are the "Gatineau Hills", and are visible in the background of the companion picture. One of Gatineau's urban parks, Jacques Cartier park is used by the National Capital Commission during the popular festival, Winterlude.
Winterlude is an annual festival in Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec that celebrates winter.
Winterlude is run by Canada's National Capital Commission and was started in 1979. The event is one of Ottawa's most important tourist draws, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. In 2007, it set a new attendance record of an estimated 1.6 million visits to one of the four Winterlude sites .
Winterlude is a very large festival of outdoor activities including public skating and skating displays, snow and ice sculpture competitions, musical concerts at the Winterlude Snowbowl, children's play areas, an 'ice lounge', bed and waiter races and numerous off-site events.
Winterlude is most famous for the Rideau Canal, which is cleared to become the world's largest skating rink for the time of the festival and hosts numerous events, such as skating displays and musical concerts.
Other primary sites include Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau which is turned into a massive snow park with slides and structures, events and activities for children and the snow sculpture competition. Confederation Park is the site for the ice sculpture competition, the ice lounge and musical concerts. Dow's Lake has a large skating area and hosts the various bed and waiter races.
Related activities include special exhibits at the Ottawa museums, special events at the Byward Market and a 'loppet' type race is held in Gatineau Park.
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