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2014-2015Ottawa Visitor Guide

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2014-2015 Ottawa Visitor Guide

Ottawa 2017

Let’s Go Ottawa

Fortissimo: fun, free and fantastic!


I admit it — I really look forward to Fortissimo each year. This is a free event held each August by the Ceremonial Guard, the same group that performs the Changing the Guard ceremony each morning at 10am between late June and late August in Ottawa.

Fortissimo features masssed military bands, pipes and drums, soloists, tributes, humour, marching, dancers, a head-to-head race between two groups of soldiers, and more. All with the dramatic backdrop of Canada’s Parliament Buildings.

This video was taken on Thursday, August 12 — the first night of this year’s event, which runs each night at 7:30pm until Sunday, August 15. Did I mention it was free? There’s something for everyone — the video just shows a few highlights. The tribute to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, hosted in Vancouver and Whistler, for example, was amazing.

Swing on by and check it out — bring a folding chair, or a blanket, to sit on, then stay on at the end for Mosaika, the free Sound and Light Show that projects images onto the Parliament Buildings. That starts at 9:30pm and it runs until September 12.

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Sound of Light show at the Casino du Lac-Leamy


The Sound of Light is a fireworks competition held annually at Lac Leamy in Gatineau, Québec, near Ottawa, Canada’s capital. It is hosted by the Casino du Lac-Leamy.

Since 1996, the friendly competition has seen teams from around the world compete. This video was shot on Wednesday, August 11, 2010, when Team USA showed its stuff. TheU.S. Ambassador was even in attendance.

I took a shuttle bus from downtown Ottawa ($3, with a free return trip). We were amazed by the crowds and the number of things to see and do before and after the fireworks themselves. Definitely a fun outing!

The first show was on Saturday, August 7 (Portugal) and additional shows will be held on Saturday, August 14 (Germany), Wednesday, August 18 (China), and Saturday, August 21 (grand finale).

This year, the event was slightly later than usual because Gatineau hosted the Québec Summer Games. Usually, the event falls in late July and early August.

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A guide to beer in and around Ottawa


dscn3690The distinctive ceramic swing-top bottles are now used for Beau's seasonal brews.If you’re visiting Ottawa, and work up a thirst while touring the region, you may want to indulge in a local pint. Here’s a guide:

Sidle on in to a one of Ottawa’s many drinking establishments (we’re really partial to pubs, you know!) and order a Beau’s. That’s short for Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Company, a great family-run brewery that just celebrated its 4th anniversary in July. Their signature brew, Lug Tread Lagered Ale, is deliciously refreshing and has won several awards, including Best Beer in Ontario at the Golden Taps Awards. They’re located in Vankleek Hill, about an hour’s drive east of downtown Ottawa, and at dozens and dozens of great bars and restaurants in Ottawa, eastern Ontario and now even Toronto. They provide the beer at the annual Ottawa International Jazz Festival and many other events. Check out their seasonal beers as well, including Bog Water Dirty Brown Ale, Beaver River, or Night Märzen.

Heritage Brewing has been around since 2000 and features a Premium Lager and a Traditional Dark Lager. Their seasonal beers are great, too, including the fun Maple Bush Lager, made with maple sap instead of water. It’s only available at the end of spring and sells out every year. Delicious, with a hint of maple flavour. Their brewery is at 866 Campbell Avenue in the west end of Ottawa and they share it with the Scotch Irish Brewing Company. Scotch Irish is known for their ales, including a very hoppy Sgt. Major India Pale Ale.

dscn4334Donna from Heritage showing off her beer!The newest beer in town was launched in April/May of 2010. It’s named after the original aboriginal moniker for the Ottawa River and the Kichesippi Beer Co. currently brews a pale ale known as Natural Blonde. This beer can be found at several Ottawa locations, including Whalesbone Oyster House, The Manx, ZenKitchen and D’Arcy McGee’s.

The HogsBack Brewing Company launched only a handful of weeks earlier than Kichesippi. Brewed in small batches, and made from all-natural ingredients, HogsBack Vintage Lager can be enjoyed at the Black Tomato and the Fish Market Restaurant in the ByWard Market neighbourhood and the Wellington Gastropub in West Wellington.

You might also enjoy a visit to one of the three Clocktower Brew Pub locations for some of their original brews—the original is at 575 Bank Street in the Glebe, the second location is on 422 Mackay Street in New Edinburgh and the newest location is at 89 Clarence Street in the ByWard Market neighbourhood.


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Have you heard? Lesser-known August treats


folk sparks nightmovie- 0161The Ottawa Folk Festival not only has great music, it has great sunsets over the Ottawa River!You may be familiar with the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival (on till August 7), or the Casino du Lac-Leamy‘s spectacular Sound of Light fireworks show (August 7-21, Saturdays and Wednesdays) — they are justifiably two of the best-known and best-loved events in August in Ottawa.

But there are plenty of other events this month that visitors might not be aware of. Read on!

Capital Hoedown: This is a brand new country music festival, to be held August 5, 6 and 7 at the Rideau Carleton Entertainment Centre. Headliners include Vince Gill, Dwight Yoakam and Alan Jackson. Yahoo!

Outdoor movies: For the next two Friday and Saturday nights (August 6-7, 13-14), you can catch movies in Dundonald Park on Somerset Street West downtown — bring your own lawn chairs and munchies! Pay-what-you-can.

Pipefest 2010: A collection of pipe bands, drummers and Highland Dancers will raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society on Parliament Hill on Saturday, August 7.

Theatre options: You have until August 14 to catch The Andrews Brothers at the Gladstone Theatre – a cross-dressing comedy set in the South Pacific during World War II. Or check out Summer Fling — a Theatrical Affair, a series of performances around Downtown Rideau until August 28.

Puppets Up! International Festival of Puppetry: It’s worth the drive west of Ottawa to the beautiful small community of Almonte this weekend (August 7-8) to see 54 world-class puppet shows in tented or storefront theatres.

Ottawa Folk Festival: This festival (August 13-15) has one of the best vibes of the year. A beautiful location on the Ottawa River definitely helps, but so do the friendly volunteers, the good food and the top-notch music, with The Acorn, Calexico, The Foggy Hogtown Boys, Jim Bryson and The Weakerthans Band, The Jim Cuddy Band and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott all set to perform.

Stinky Weekend: Believe it or not, there are two great garlic festivals over the weekend of August 14-15: one in Perth and one at the Carp Farmers’ Market.

Caribe-Expo: Check out the Caribbean flavours on the weekend of August 14-15 in downtown Ottawa.

Fortissimo: fortissimo-pipers-credit-ottawa-tourismThe Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band played Fortissimo a few years ago.I’m a sucker for military music and Fortissimo is the best. Pipes and drums, lots of marching and usually some fun team competitions (one year, each team built a bridge, dismantled a cannon, then transported it and rebuilt it on the other side to fire — the winners won by literally a split second — amazing!). Catch it — free — August 12-15 on Parliament Hill.

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Rideau Canal Festival & Buskerfest bring delights this weekend!


dscn4182Last year's début of the Musical Breeze Bike Parade was well attended!The third annual Rideau Canal Festival runs this weekend, from Friday, July 30 through Monday, August 2. While all of Ontario has Monday off as a “civic holiday,” in Ottawa that holiday is named Colonel By Day, after the Royal Engineer who spearheaded the building of the Rideau Canal.

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, the Rideau Canal stretches 202 km (126 miles) to Kingston and the St. Lawrence River. It was built for a military purpose (to serve as an alternative route to get troops and supplies between Kingston and Montréal in case the Americans ever blockaded the St. Lawrence) but was never used for that purpose.

Now it’s a beautiful series of waterways, locks and canals. In winter, a 7.8km (4.8-mile) ortion in Ottawa becomes the world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink. In summer, recreational boaters, cruises and paddlers plie the waters, while cyclists, inline skaters and runners use the recreational pathways along its banks.

The Rideau Canal Festival endeavours to be environmentally friendly, encouraging visitors to cycle, walk or use public transportation to visit its main sites, including the Bytown Museum, Confederation Park and Dows Lake area. You can enjoy a Buy Local Barbecue Challenge on Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 11:30am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm where local chefs use local products in delicious presentations. Or participate in Saturday’s Musical Breeze Bicycle Parade, held in conjunction with the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, where cyclists are encouraged to participate with their bicycle bells and other noisemakers in musical performances along the Canal.

Some of the most popular attractions are the flotillas — the nighttime flotilla at Dows Lake on Saturday night followed by fireworks and the daytime flotilla on Sunday, leaving Dows Lake at 2:00pm on its way to the National Arts Centre downtown.

New this year is a salute to the Badaling Great Wall of China, and the other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China, to be found in Confederation Park at the World Heritage Plaza. Crafts, performing arts and a sneak preview of the magnificent Chinese Archway currently being constructed in Ottawa’s Chinatown on Somerset Street West near Bronson await!

And if you’re downtown for the Rideau Canal Festival, you’ll also want to check out the Ottawa Busker Festival on the pedestrian Sparks Street Mall heading west from Elgin Street (July 29-August 2). There’s no admission charge, but if you’re charmed by the performers, you’re expected to contribute a loonie or toonie or two at the end! You’ll be amazed at the quality and variety of street performers on hand.

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Casino du Lac-LeamyOntario

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