OTTAWA – The $5.6-million skating rink being assembled on the lawn of Parliament Hill will open to the public in a few weeks, and is now set to stay open later than first announced, the government has confirmed.

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly announced Thursday that the rink will remain open through Ottawa’s annual Winterlude festival, and will close February 28 rather than the previously announced Jan. 1.

"This will allow even more families to lace up their skates for this once in a lifetime opportunity," Joly tweeted.

As one of the final events commemorating 150 years of Confederation, construction crews have been assembling an outdoor rink on the east side of the Hill lawn.

The initial plan was to have the rink open Dec. 7 and close approximately three weeks later. Joly said after speaking with the Speakers of the House and Senate, who oversee the parliamentary precinct, they’re on board with keeping it open longer.

The $5.6-million price tag includes the assembly, maintenance, and planned events. It is unclear what impact the rink staying open for two more months will have on the overall cost.

Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said the price tag won’t "cut a lot of ice" with Canadians outside of Ottawa.

"I know we want to celebrate our country’s birthday, that‘s fine. But I also think we need to look at ways of doing it that most Canadians can take advantage of," he said.

Lacing up will still come with several rules and warnings. Among them? No hockey sticks, no cell phones, and no hot chocolate.

"It may be slippery," the rink disclaimer reads.

Attendees are not allowed to bring hockey sticks or pucks onto the ice. Organizers are also asking Canadians to leave their triple axels and foul language at home, as figure skating and bad behaviour will not be permitted.

Unlike on the Rideau Canal, which is located roughly 500 metres away from Parliament Hill, skaters won’t be able to snack on a BeaverTail as they circle the rink, because food and beverages are banned from the ice.

As well, cell phones and other electronic devices won’t be allowed on the rink, and only people wearing ice skates will be let in.

If that doesn’t safeguard you from any potential incident, organizers still want you to know you can’t hold "Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, or any person for whom they are responsible in law, liable for any loss, damage or injury caused."

The rink is being built and run in partnership with the Ottawa Senators and the Ottawa International Hockey Festival and over the three weeks it’s open, will host the Bell Capital Cup, an Ottawa youth hockey tournament; as well as being a centrepiece of cross-country events for Canada 150 Skating Day on Dec. 10.

To go for a skate, Canadians must book their 40-minute skating time 48 hours online beforehand. The ice time bookings will only be available for each day, two days in advance, meaning if you wanted to skate on Dec. 10, Canada Skating Day, you can’t reserve your spot until Dec. 8.

Tickets will be issued on a first come, first serve basis. Each person can reserve a maximum of six passes at a time.

There are limited spots for group ice time, and it’s possible you’ll be sharing the ice, as more than one group will be booked at the same time.

The rink can hold up to 200 people at a time, and outside of special programmed events on the rink, it will be open weekdays between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., and weekends between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.

The government is cautioning, however, that pre-booked ice times can be cancelled, shortened, or modified at any time.

Participants are being asked to arrive between 45 minutes and one hour before their scheduled session.

Once the rink closes, the plan is to have it donated to a community, Canadian Heritage said.

The rink’s opening coincides with the Christmas Lights Across Canada illumination ceremony on Dec. 7.