Let’s Go Ottawa
- Friday, 03 September 2010 04:52
Who says UNESCO World Heritage sites don’t play great together? This summer, the friendly cooperation between Canada and China continued full force as the Great Wall of China and the Rideau Canal partook in mutually beneficial promotions in each others’ destinations.
Badaling, part of the Beijing municipality, is home to the most visited section of the Great Wall, and for a week at the beginning of August, tourists there were greeted with kiosks and travel information about Ottawa and the Rideau Canal. It’s a link between one of the world’s oldest landmarks and one of the world’s youngest attractions, and as Chinese tourists continue to flock to Canada in increasing numbers every year, it’s a partnership that makes sure Ottawa will be a top part of their itineraries.
In exchange, tourists to Ottawa were treated to special features on the Great Wall and Chinese cultural dancing and exhibitions during this year’s Rideau Canal Festival. For those who’ve never had the chance to visit the Great Wall (and I am one of you), you can get a sense of the majesty in the video below, when Ottawa Tourism president Noel Buckley was in Badaling signing the friendship agreement.
Ottawans who love the Rideau Canal can be proud to know she’s getting the exposure she deserves worldwide. This begs another question: is the canal male or female? Feel free to debate below.
- Monday, 23 August 2010 04:52
- Written by Jantine Van Kregten
Last year, Savour Ottawa, an initiative that links local farmers and local chefs, hosted two Chef / Media Farm Tours, where we invited travel and food journalists and Savour Ottawa member chefs to a daytrip in Ottawa’s countryside to visit three different Savour Ottawa farms. We’re doing it again this year!
On Monday, September 13 and Monday, September 27, we’re hosting two different tours. We’ll meet in the ByWard Market for breakfast and quick tour, then head out on the road. We’ll visit three farms, and enjoy a delicious lunch prepared by The Branch Restaurant. We’ll return to the ByWard Market in the mid- to late afternoon.
See what last year’s participants had to say:
Savour Ottawa is overseen by Ottawa Tourism, the City of Ottawa (rural affairs and markets management) and Just Food, an organization that works closely with farmers and on sustainable agricultural practices.
Restaurants, caterers and retailers who join Savour Ottawa have shown a commitment to sourcing local food, which is identified as coming from inside the boundaries of the City of Ottawa, any county that touches the borders of Ottawa or from the Outaoauis region in neighbouring Québec.
- Tuesday, 17 August 2010 04:52
- Written by Jantine Van Kregten
As summertime winds down into back-to-school time, I thought I’d review a few family-friendly treats that you might want to explore. Ottawa is an extremely family-friendly destination – major museums have first-rate children’s programming year-round, like Artissimo at the National Gallery of Canada (how’s about seeing your child’s art on the walls of the Gallery?), or the fun interactive round-the-world-trip that is the Canadian Children’s Museum inside the Canadian Museum of Civilization, or the creepy critters of Animalium at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
But let’s take a look at some seasonal summertime attractions that will be behind us before we know it!
Saunders Farm. You may be familiar with Saunders for their imaginative, creepy Hallowe’en programming in October (and it’s definitely worth a visit then) but don’t miss it in the summer! You and your kids can enjoy the splash pads, take a wagon ride, and burn off energy in the world’s largest collection of hedge mazes. Bring your own treats, or buy some fresh from the farm — you’ll want to make a day of it. Saunders is located a good 45 minutes or so from downtown Ottawa (about 20 minutes from the west-end suburb of Kanata) . Open until September 6 (then open again in October for Hallowe’en season). Don’t just take my word for it, though, check out this great Kids in the Capital blog post from Lynn.Take a ride in the countryside to check out
You have until Labour Day (September 6) to try out the brand new Calypso Theme Waterpark, which opened back in June less than a half-hour’s drive east of downtown Ottawa in the small town of Limoges. It boasts 35 waterslides, more than 100 water games and plenty of other activities. From the Zoo Lagoon for toddlers to Canada’s largest wave pool to the Fast Track extreme slide, you’ll find something for every member of your family.
Pirate Adventures on the Rideau River, near Mooney’s Bay Beach in the south end. Once you’re suited up in your pirate gear, you’ll set sail in your pirate ship for hearty adventures. Uncover the clues of a treasure map, repel a boarding attack, make a villain walk the plank and more! Spend a day the pirate way!Another fun way to enjoy the water is to take a cruise with
The traditional end-of-summer fling is SuperEx, also known as the Central Canada Exhibition, which runs August 19-29, 2010 at Lansdowne Park in the Glebe neighbourhood downtown. From midway rides to agricultural exhibits to concerts, you’ll have a lot of distractions to keep you and your little ones busy.
There are plenty of ways to have fun without spending a dime, too! The Changing the Guard ceremony is awe-inspiring for kids, with the uniforms, the marching, the music and the spectacle of it all. The free ceremony takes place on the lawn in front of Parliament Hill every morning at 10:00, weather permitting, until Friday, August 27.
Tours of Parliament are also free — you can pick up your same-day tickets from the big tent located between Centre Block (the main building, with the Peace Tower and clock) and West Block until September 6. After that, go to the base of the Peace Tower and follow the signs.
And every night at 9:30pm until September 12, weather permitting, you can enjoy the free Sound and Light Show known as Mosaika, where dramatic images are projected onto the façade of the Parliament Buildings. Learn more about Canada through the spirit of its people in this highly entertaining, bilingual show. Bring a lawn chair or blanket, as bleacher seating is limited.
One of my favourite events is the annual Lumière Festival, this year held a bit later than normal, on Saturday, September 4. The event actually starts well before that, as people are encouraged to sign up for lantern-making workshops. The night itself is magical — little kids dress up as fairies or in other whimsical costumes and carry lanterns. Programming is musical, inventive, humourous — and the setting is beautiful, in Stanley Park in New Edinburgh, which runs along the eastern shore of the Rideau River before it empties into the Ottawa River.
Another fun activity for families is Alcatel Sunday Bikedays, which take place each Sunday (9:00am until 1:00pm) until September 5. Visit RentABike to, well, rent a bike, and then explore some fun areas of town where the streets have been closed to motorized traffic to let cyclists, inline skaters and joggers take over! One of the most popular routes is along Colonel By Drive downtown, overlooking the Rideau Canal.
Also on Labour Day weekend, you can enjoy entertainment each dawn and dusk by just looking up, way up! The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival runs September 3-6, 2010 and if the weather cooperates, you can see dozens and dozens of multi-coloured (and sometimes interestingly shaped) balloons drift by. Activities such as live bands, extreme sports demos, crafts and classic car displays — not to mention rides in some of the balloons — are based in Parc de la baie in Gatineau, Québec (just across the Ottawa River from Ottawa). The prevailing winds usually blow the balloons farther eastward but every few years, the wind shifts and sends the balloons over downtown Ottawa, making everyone a part of the festival!
- Friday, 13 August 2010 04:52
- Written by Jantine Van Kregten
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.
- Thursday, 12 August 2010 04:52
- Written by Jantine Van Kregten
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.