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Even more New Year’s options


I’ve blogged a couple times — here and here – about Christmas and New Year’s activities in the Ottawa region. More and more area establishments are finally posting their menus or their plans for New Year’s Eve, so here’s an update:

  • Heart and Crown pub in the ByWard MarketThe Heart & Crown's outdoor patio is great in the summer, but you'll want to be inside listening to the live bands on New Year's Eve!The Heart & Crown (part of a larger collection of establishments known as the Irish Village) is an iconic Irish pub in the ByWard Market neighbourhood, with two stages for live music — one featuring Evolver, the other Monday’s Grace.

  • Barrymore’s on Bank Street in downtown Ottawa is hosting a New Year’s Eve bash with DJ Perv, starting at $25.
  • If you’ve never seen the Duelling Pianos at Fat Tuesday’s in the ByWard Market, you don’t know what you’re missing! Dave Kalil and Tyler Kealey play old and new favourites and everyone sings along! Great Cajun and Creole food just make it that much more interesting!
  • Lago Bar/Grill/View, with its beautiful view of Dows Lake, offers dinner and dancing in a fun atmosphere. See-and-be-seen!
  • Foodies will love Chef Michael Hay’s five-course tasting menu in the stone-walled Courtyard Restaurant in the ByWard Market. There are both early and late seatings, at $65 per person. A New Year’s Brunch is served on both January 1 and January 2.
  • D’Arcy McGee’s Irish Pub has several locations in Ottawa, but the downtown flagship at Sparks Street at Elgin Street, is featuring Dustin Jones & the Rising Tide, who promise “Drinking Music you can dance to!” $25 per person includes champagne at midnight, party favours, late night sweets & sandwich buffet and the live band!
  • ZenKitchen dessert samplerThis dessert sampler came from an earlier meal at ZenKitchen but they've got equally good things on tap for New Year's Eve!More foodie fun awaits at ZenKitchen in Ottawa’s Chinatown, with both a smaller 4-course early seating ($55) and 6-course late seating ($75). Why not start the year off right with a delicious, healthy meal?

  • Stella Osteria in the ByWard Market also offers early ($65) and late ($80) seatings.

Happy New Year everyone!

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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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