Within a day of criticisms that the $5.6-million skating rink being installed on the front lawn of Parliament Hill would be open for only a few weeks, Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly announced Thursday afternoon that the rink will remain through Winterlude 2018.

The NHL-sized rink was originally planned to be open only from Dec. 7 to Dec. 31, but will now be open until the end of February.

Joly said in a tweet that extending the rink's closing date will allow more Canadians to take advantage of a unique chance to skate on Parliament Hill.

However, the minister couldn't say how much more it would cost to keep the rink open an additional two months.

Outside of organized events, no hockey sticks will be allowed on the ice. Cell phones are also banned.

Rink on Parliament Hill

The public will get two more months than origianlly planned to skate on front lawn of Parliament Hill after Heritage Minister Melanie Joly announced the rink will stay open until the end of February. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Activities on the rink will include public skating, minor hockey games and ice sport demonstrations, according to the Canada 150 Rink website. Most events on the rink will be free and open to the public.