Winterlude, an annual winter festival being run by the federal department Canadian Heritage for the first time, is set to take place from Jan. 31 to Feb. 17, and festival-goers can expect a few history lessons along the way.

There are three official sites — Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, the Rideau Canal Skateway and Confederation Park in Ottawa — but "a wide range of activities will be presented by partners" elsewhere in Ottawa and Gatineau, as in previous years.

It appears the 36th edition of the festival will take on a decidedly more historical feel now that it's being run by Canadian Heritage.

"To mark the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences, the folk traditions of Prince Edward Island and Quebec will blend with electronic music to create a kitchen party alive with raw musical energy at Confederation Park," said a media release issued Monday.

As well, "Veterans Affairs Canada will present a majestic ice sculpture made from 100 blocks of ice, to be unveiled during a lighting ceremony at Confederation Park, marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War."

To celebrate the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, the site at Jacques-Cartier Park will feature an obstacle course.

More details about the festival will be released closer to the opening date.

As for skating on the Rideau Canal, the National Capital Commission said Monday that if the weather co-operates, a section of the canal could be open by Dec. 31.

The last time the canal opened before New Year's Eve was Dec. 28, 2004, and the earliest it's ever opened was Dec. 18 in 1972 and 1981.