The world's largest naturally frozen skating rink still hasn't opened as an Ottawa winter festival gets underway, putting the Rideau Canal Skateway on track to have its latest opening date on record.

The National Capital Commission said on social media Thursday that the last time the canal opened this late was Feb. 2, 2002 — "meaning we've officially surpassed our record."

The opening won't happen in time for the start of the city's annual Winterlude festival, which is taking place from Saturday through Feb. 20.

Skating seasons have generally gotten shorter in recent history, and the NCC says that this year, the weather has been too mild to build safe ice.

But a spokesperson said in a statement that this weekend's cold temperatures are a good sign for those hoping to sharpen their skates.

"While the skateway will not be open for the first weekend of February, our teams are working relentlessly to safely open a section of the skateway, flooding the ice surface every evening," said Valérie Dufour, the senior manager of strategic communications for the NCC.

The internationally renowned skateway, which is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, draws tourists from all corners of the country to the nation's capital every winter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2023.