Despite frosty weather this week, the world’s longest skating rink will be closed because of a warmer-than-average temperatures.
During the colder months, Ottawa’s Rideau Canal turns into 7.8km (4.8 miles) of icy fun.
But the canal in Canada’s capital will have its latest start in over 50 years because of this year’s mild winter.
Temperatures dropped to -26C (-15F) on Friday, but hovered around -5C (12F) in January and -2C (28F) in December.
Until this year, the latest canal opening was 2 February, in 2002 – the first and only time the canal had opened as late as February since records began in 1971. Over the past 52 years, the average start date has shifted later and later.
Before the 1995-96 winter season, the canal would typically open at the end of December. Over the last 26 years, however, the canal has typically opened on 10 January.
This has been Ottawa’s third warmest winter according to records dating back to 1872, Environment Canada told the Ottawa Citizen. Previous record-breakers were in 2001 and 1931.
The skating season typically starts when a 30cm (1ft) thickness of good-quality ice has formed, according to the National Capital Commission (NCC), the organisation in charge of the canal. That requires about 10 to 14 consecutive days of temperatures between -10C and -20C.
Last year, the NCC partnered with researchers at Carleton University to examine the potential impact of climate change on skating on the canal.
Each year Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, hosts a Winterlude festival that celebrates the fun that snow and ice can bring, with tobogganing and ice sculptures, as well as skating along the canal. The annual event, which begins on Saturday, attracts as many as a million people.
But the canal will not be able to open at the start of this year’s festival, which puts a damper on some of the activities.
“Our teams are working relentlessly to safely open a section of the skateway, flooding the ice surface every evening,” said Valerie Dufour, a spokesperson for the NCC.
“The cold snap over the weekend is good news, but we had to deal with mild temperatures and a lot of snow up until now.”