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2014-2015Ottawa Visitor Guide

View our Ottawa Visitor Guide online to plan your stay in Canada’s Capital region.

2014-2015 Ottawa Visitor Guide

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Great Canadian Chill raises money Jan. 1 to fight children’s cancer


great-canadian-chillYou can help welcome in the New Year by raising money to stop kids’ cancer COLD!

Solicit pledges and friends to cheer you on, then take a running plunge into the icy waters of the Ottawa River. What a way to start the year!

This is a new event, scheduled for Ottawa and Toronto in 2011 and more Canadian cities in the future. It’s sure to become a great annual event so why not check out its inaugural run?

Registration takes place at 12:00 noon on New Year’s Day and the plunge itself is at 1:30pm. Don’t forget the costume contest — have fun with it!

The money raised will benefit the Sears Foundation, which funds 17 oncology centers both provincially and nationally. All donations and pledges of $20 or more are eligible for tax receipts which will be emailed or mailed to you within two weeks of when your donation is made online or in-person, respectively.

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Gatineau Park winter season begins today


wolfe-trail-in-gatineau-park-landscape-ottawa-tourismSome of Gatineau Park's trails offer tremendous views of the surrounding countryside.The National Capital Commission (NCC) just announced that Gatineau Park’s winter trail network opened today, Wednesday, December 15!

While Gatineau Park is beautiful in any season, it’s especially enticing in winter. Best of all, it’s only 15 minutes’ drive north of Parliament Hill, meaning that enjoying this wilderness setting is an integral part of many Ottawans’ lives.

There are more than 250km (155 miles) of trails available in the park, allowing hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in a variety of settings. Some are gentle, flat trails — including the popular and universally accessible Sugarbush Trail adjacent to the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre in Chelsea, Québec.

The Park boasts 10 daytime shelters where skiers or snowshoers can warm up at wood stoves and enjoy a snack or lunch that they may have brought with them. It’s also possible to spend the night in one of Gatineau Park’s four cabins, three yurts or by winter camping under the stars at Philippe Lake. Reservations are required for these activities.

Gatineau Park snowshoeingGatineau Park snowshoeing offers trails for cross-country skiing, winter hiking and snowshoeingCross-country skiers need to purchase a ski pass — you can purchase a season pass online or at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre. Daily passes are also available at the Visitor Centre or at any of the park’s parking areas that provide direct access to the open trails. Daily rates are $13 for adults, $9 for youths (13-17 years old), $9 for students (18-24) and seniors (60+), and free for children 12 and under. A family pass (2 adults and 3 youths) is $27.

There are no fees to snowshoe on the park’s 45km (28-mile) snowshoe trail network, accessible from parking lots 6, 13, 15, 17, 19 and the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre in Chelsea.

There are no fees to use the 10-kilometre winter walking trail network, accessible from parking lots 3, 6 and the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre. Domestic animals are permitted on leash on winter walking trails only.

You can find up-to-date ski conditions and trail statuses online or by calling the trail conditions hotline at 819-827-2020, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What are your favourite trails? I’ve snowshoed the Wolf Trail near Meech Lake a few times and while it’s a gruelling uphill hike, the views are definitely worth it!

Get out there and enjoy!

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More Christmas and New Year’s offerings


A couple weeks, ago, I blogged about things to do over Christmas and New Year’s in Ottawa, with the promise to add more suggestions as we got closer to the dates. Well, here are some additional options to spend the festive time in Canada’s capital region!

As Eugene Haslam commented on the original post, Zaphod Beeblebrox – an iconic music venue in Ottawa’s ByWard Market neighbourhood — is open on Christmas Day. And while the website doesn’t share the details just yet, it will soon explain what’s happening there on New Year’s Eve, which traditionally means highlighting local talent.

For a party with an unbeatable view, visit the Crowne Plaza‘s top floor for the New Year’s Eve Carnival Event. The party alone is $65, but they also offer dinner and accommodation packages. DJ Karyen and DJ Ray Ray are supplyin’ the beats

National Arts Centre in winterOn New Year's Eve, the National Arts Centre offers a dinner/show/after-party featuring Legally Blonde: The Musical. PHOTO: Marc Fowler And for fans of Legally Blonde: The Musical, the National Arts Centre is offering a New Year’s Eve dinner/show/post-party package or à la carte options (eg. the gourmet dinner is $67.49 per person, the post-party is $32.31). It’s called “Paint New Year’s Eve Pink” so dress accordingly!

You could also opt for the high-stakes excitement of the Casino du Lac-Leamy: their beautiful theatre offers dinner-and-a-show options starting at $208.76 per person (including taxes, gratuities, parking and coat check) on New Year’s Eve featuring the Esquire Show Bar revue. A legendary R’nB mecca of the 50s, 60s, and 70s in Montréal, the Esquire Show Bar is recreated during the show with 15 soul music artists performing hits like Sweet Soul Music, At Last, Soulman, Knock on Wood, Under the Boardwalk, When a Man Loves a Woman, Mustang Sally, It’s a Man’s World and much more. Adjacent acommodation can be added on at the Hilton Lac-Leamy. What a way to welcome in 2011!

If you’re just now making plans to visit Ottawa for the holidays, don’t forget the Third Night Free option available through Ottawa Tourism. Valid at participating hotels through bookings up to March 31, 2011 (though travel can take place after that date), it’s a great deal!

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Taste of Winterlude’s impressive lineup!


beavertails-stand-on-rideau-canal-skatewayTaste of Winterlude is a series of wine and food events in Ottawa and Canada’s capital region that take place at various venues between January 27 and February 21, 2011. Winterlude— Ottawa’s great winter festival — has slightly shorter dates, starting on Friday, February 4 and continuing through February 21.


The National Capital Commission collaborated with local wine event company Groovy Grapes to program the series of events and what a job they’ve done!

Just a few highlights:

  • Savour Ottawa Walkabout Winter Feast (a tour of 5 restaurants in the ByWard Market neighbourhood who are members of this local foods movement) on Tuesday, February 8
  • Vegan restaurant ZenKitchen pairing their delicious food with a Niagara winery on Wednesday, February 9
  • C’est Bon Cooking offering their foodie walking tours of the ByWard Market neighbourhood on 4 consecutive Saturdays and offering a “cooking adventure” where you get in the kitchen with Chef Andrée on Friday, February 11
  • Avant-garde restaurant Atelier restaurant turning up the volume to pair their night with the music of Motorhead (!) on Tuesday, February 1
  • Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa featuring ice carving, ice wine and maple syrup (among other things) on Saturday, January 29
  • Le Nordik Nature Spa offering “Winterlude in a Bathrobe” with a cocktail reception on Thursday, January 27
  • Courtyard Restaurant offering a non-traditional Robbie Burns Day whisky dinner on Wednesday, February 16
  • The urban element offering a Niagara-themed wine and food event on Thursday, February 10
  • Le Baccara at the Casino du Lac-Leamy featuring a champagne tasting menu on Tuesday, February 1
  • And way more!


So now that you’re intrigued by the possibilities, here’s more great news. Book a visit to Ottawa and get your Third Night Free! That’s right, at participating hotels, you’ll get your third night of accommodation on the house! The offer is on now till March 31, 2011 — but that’s just for booking (your actual arrival in Ottawa can be during Winterlude, or maybe in May for the Canadian Tulip Festival, or maybe to catch some shows at the RBC Royal Bank Ottawa Bluesfest or the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival… the possibilities are endless!).

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Christmas and New Year’s in Ottawa


So maybe you’re planning a visit to Ottawa over the holiday season… or maybe you live here and are looking for some suggestions of what to see and do. This is a starting guide of what awaits — watch for updates as December progresses!


Christmas Lights Across CanadaChristmas Lights Across Canada - last year's launch on Parliament Hill Everybody loves free stuff, especially when there are so many other demands on your wallet! Be sure to wander the downtown Ottawa and Gatineau streets between December 2, 2010 and January 7, 2011 and admire the Christmas Lights Across Canadaprogram — more than 300,000 coloured lights decorate Parliament Hill, the National War Memorial and other scenic sites.

It doesn’t cost anything to window shop — and some of the best can be done in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. For the three weekends before Christmas (Dec. 4-19; 12-4pm), you can also get in the spirit by singing Christmas carols (songsheets are provided) on a free horse-drawn carriage ride through the Market’s streets. Other choirs have been invited to sing during the same times at the corner of George Street and ByWard Market Square — donations are welcome.

 You can celebrate the Winter Solstice at the Canada Science and Technology Museum on Tuesday, December 21 with a FREE stargazing party — but dress warmly because the event is only outdoors (7pm).



Most people have Christmas Day off as a holiday, but there are a few things you can do: stroll the grounds of Parliament Hill, enjoy some excitement at the Casino du Lac-Leamy, watch reunions at the Ottawa International Airport, go tobogganing in a local park (weather permitting), or grab a drink or a snack at a local hotel.

A few examples:

Grill 41 in the Lord Elgin Hotel offers a plated Christmas dinner table d’hôte (4 courses) for $49 on both December 24 and 25 — and a plated New Year’s Eve dinner table d’hôte (5 courses) for $69 on December 31.

Lane’s Restaurant in the Holiday Inn & Suites is open on December 25 and on Boxing Day (December 26) as of 11:00am, as well as on December 31 and January 1.

101 Café (in the Crowne Plaza Ottawa offers a five-course meal with holiday entertainment and dancing on December 31 and a January 1 New Year’s Day breakfast buffet.

As I mentioned, this is a first post — watch for more info as we get closer to the holidays! Or post your own suggestions below!

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