Ottawa Tourism

What's Up in Ottawa

GoMedia 2019: Come Early / Stay Late

Our days are packed during the GoMedia conference so why not plan to arrive a day or two early (or stay an extra night or two) and take advantage of these fun activities in Ottawa and Canada’s Capital Region?

FREE OR NEARLY FREE

FREE OR NEARLY FREE

For Media: Attractions Passport
www.ottawatourism.ca/attractions-passport/
Ottawa Tourism can issue an Attractions Passport which, when presented with your business card, entitles you to a complimentary visit to the attractions, tours, activities and hospitality listed therein. To request a passport to be issued and delivered to the Westin Ottawa, please contact [email protected]

For Industry and Media: Flash Your Badge Delegate Program
www.ottawatourism.ca/fyb
Any delegate of the conference with a valid conference badge is entitled to a discounted visit to participating attractions, tours, restaurants, and hospitality. No need to print any documentation other than to present your delegate badge. Please call participating attractions in advance to make reservations and/or confirm availability if specified.

Tours of the House of Commons and/or the Senate of Canada
Parliament of Canada
visit.parl.ca
As Canada’s capital, Ottawa is home to the federal government, and the iconic Peace Tower on Parliament Hill is one of the best photo-ops around. On February 1, 2019, Centre Block closed for 10 years of renovations, and brand new spaces are now open for free public tours for the very first time! Check out the House of Commons inside West Block or the Senate of Canada inside the Senate of Canada Building, previously the Government Conference Centre and before that, Ottawa’s central train station. Ottawa Tourism has booked private tours of these spaces for GoMedia delegates: to book your spot (first-come, first-served), please email [email protected] and indicate which tour you are interested in taking. Once your spot is confirmed, you will be sent more information regarding exact locations, arrival time, bag restrictions, etc.

  • House of Commons: Sunday, August 11; 4:20pm; ENGLISH (maximum 24 people; meet in the Westin Ottawa lobby at 3:30pm)
  • Senate of Canada: Sunday, August 11 4:20pm; ENGLISH (maximum 30 people; meet in the Westin Ottawa lobby at 3:45pm)
  • House of Commons: Thursday, August 15; 9:30am; ENGLISH (maximum 24 people; meet in the Westin Ottawa lobby at 8:45am)
  • Senate of Canada: Thursday, August 15; 9:30am; ENGLISH (maximum 30 people; meet in the Westin Ottawa lobby at 9:00am)

**Book your own free spot on a public tour of the House of Commons or Senate of Canada Building at http://visit.parl.ca for a time that suits you! Note that when booking through the booking engine, you will receive an electronic ticket which you will need to bring with you to present at the time of your tour. This ticket will also include cancellation information, should your plans change. It is advised to leave at least 90 minutes between the beginning of one tour and the beginning of the next when booking tours of both the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada Building.

Changing of the Guard
Parliament Hill
www.army-armee.forces.gc.ca/en/ceremonial-guard/performances.page
Don’t miss the chance to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony, modeled on the one in London, England and celebrating its 60th season this year. Between late June and late August each year, this free ceremony takes place each morning at 10:00am on the lawn in front of the Parliament Buildings, after the troops march up Elgin Street. Dozens and dozens of soldiers participate—either in the new guard, the old guard, or the band. Viewing the ceremony is free, and we suggest arriving 15-20 minutes ahead of the ceremony time to snag a great view on any of these days:

  • Friday, August 9 at 10:00am
  • Saturday, August 10 at 10:00am
  • Sunday, August 11 at 10:00am
  • Thursday, August 15 at 10:00am
  • Friday, August 16 at 10:00am
  • Saturday, August 17 at 10:00am

Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light fireworks competition
Various locations
www.feux.qc.ca/home
From August 10 to 24 (every Saturday and Wednesday night), fireworks will be launched from the Ottawa River, behind Parliament Hill, around 9:15pm. Best views are from Major’s Hill Park (behind the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel, near the ByWard Market neighbourhood). Tickets are available online for VIP viewing areas, but otherwise the show is FREE from viewpoints in downtown Ottawa and Gatineau. Shows include:

  • Saturday, August 10 at 9:15pm (competitor: Chile)
  • Wednesday, August 14 at 9:15pm *Presented as part of the GoMedia 2019 closing evening reception* (competitor: Italy)
  • Saturday, August 17 at 9:15pm (competitor: Greece)

Zumba On the Hill
Parliament Hill
www.facebook.com/ZumbaontheHill
Get your sweat on while dancing to lively music or simply admire the crowd of dancers during free weekly Zumba classes on the Hill! Sundays during the summer at 4:00pm.

  • Sunday, August 11 at 4:00pm

Lucky Ron, local Ottawa legend
Château Lafayette, 42 York Street (ByWard Market neighbourhood)
www.thelaff.ca
This landmark watering hole, better known as The Laff, is one of the last traditional taverns in Ottawa. Opened as Grant’s Hotel in 1849, the bar has undergone a number of renovations but is still in the same ByWard Market location it has occupied for over 150 years. Since 1986, Lucky Ron has been performing his show… and he’s been at The Laff each Saturday since 1999 (usually between approximately 5:00 and 7:00pm). Think Stompin’ Tom meets Rocky Horror Picture Show! There’s hurtin’ country music (Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Horton, etc.) and lots of audience participation! No cover charge but quarts of beer are de rigueur.

Jantine from Ottawa Tourism plans to be there… text her at 613-866-4955 if you plan to catch the show. Space is at a premium!

  • Saturday, August 10, 4:00-7:30pm

Ottawa Farmers’ Market
Aberdeen Square at Lansdowne
www.ottawafarmersmarket.ca

Premium quality Ottawa-area fruits, vegetables, meats, flowers and crafts. Sundays mornings during the year (outside in summer, inside the Aberdeen Pavilion in winter)

  • Sunday, August 11, 10:00am-3:00pm

NOKIA Sunday Bikedays
Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway (9 kilometres), Colonel By Drive (8 kilometres), Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway (8 kilometres)
www.ncc-ccn.gc.ca/places/sunday-bikedays
Enjoy summer Sundays cycling along car-free roads in Canada’s Capital Region. Since 1970, the National Capital Commission has opened scenic parkways to cyclists in Ottawa and Gatineau Park. Sundays mornings during the summer. 10% off bicycle rental is offered by Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals through the Ottawa Tourism Flash Your Badge Program.

  • Sunday, August 11, 9:00am-1:00pm

Gatineau Culture Trail
Downtown Gatineau
www.gatineau.ca/sentierculturel/
Follow the red line! Inspired by Boston’s legendary Freedom Trail and marked by a painted red line, the 3-km Culture Trail invites pedestrians to discover or rediscover downtown Gatineau. This urban walking tour links points of interest, exhibition spaces, entertainment venues and great restaurants.

A Company of Fools – Romeo + Juliet
Location schedule to be released
http://fools.ca/whats-on/torchlight-shakespeare-romeo-juliet/
Shakespeare comes straight to parks across Ottawa this summer!

  • Friday, August 9, 7:00pm
  • Saturday, August 10, 7:00pm
  • Thursday, August 15, 7:00pm
  • Friday, August 16, 7:00pm
  • Saturday, August 17, 7:00pm

Guided Walking Tours
ByWard Market neighbourhood
www.byward-market.com/event/guided-walking-tours-visites-guides-a-pied/
Take a FREE guided bilingual tour around the ByWard Market this summer! Wear your comfortable shoes, find our information kiosk by the OTTAWA sign on York at Sussex, and get ready to discover places all over the ByWard Market that you may not have seen before. Learn historical information about the Bytown days and how the Market came to be, and find a few new favourite stops along the way! Arrive prior to the time most convenient for you, and let our friendly staff in the bright yellow shirts know you are ready to go.

  • Fridays & Thursdays: 11am, 12pm, 4pm
  • Saturdays, Sundays, & Holiday Mondays: 10am, 11am, 12pm, 4pm

*Schedule may vary with certain weather conditions*

Free Admission to Laurier House National Historic Site
Laurier House National Historic Site
www.parkscanada.gc.ca/laurierhouse
Enjoy free admission to the former residence of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, two of Canada’s Prime Ministers. Experience guided interpretation throughout the house. Should you be interested in enjoying a snack on the picturesque veranda, tea and cookies can be added to your experience for $5.50. No reservation required. Upon arrival at the Visitor Centre, please mention that you are with the GoMedia Canada 2019 conference. Note that the offer is available during regular hours (10:00am-5:00pm) on the days listed below:

  • Friday, August 9
  • Saturday, August 10
  • Sunday, August 11
  • Thursday, August 15
  • Friday, August 16
  • Saturday, August 17

Walking Tour of the Ottawa Locks at the Rideau Canal National Historic Site
Rideau Canal National Historic Site
www.parkscanada.gc.ca/rideau
Enjoy a beautiful walking tour of the historic Ottawa locks in the middle of our nation’s capital. For 60 minutes, experience guided interpretation throughout the site which comprises eight separate lock chambers, green spaces, and original, stone buildings. Guides will explain the history of this impressive feat of engineering as well as how water is moved through the system in the same way that it was when the canal was completed in the 1830s.  Please reserve a day in advance by emailing [email protected] and indicate your language of preference for the tour. Tours are available on the days listed below:

  • Friday, August 9, between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 10, between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
  • Friday, August 16, between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 17, between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Take a tour of Le Boat!
Docked outside the Westin Ottawa
www.leboat.ca
Le Boat made its North American debut on Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal, in 2018 and now have a fleet of 20 Horizon Cruisers. From Kingston to downtown Ottawa and passing by quintessential rural Ontario towns, Le Boat makes a luxury boat holiday accessible to everyone – no previous boating experience or boat license is required! Travellers are able to rent and live onboard  their own modern, luxury houseboat and cruise the Rideau Canal at their own pace. Choose a boat that sleeps from two to twelve people and cruise for a duration of three to four nights, one week or eight plus nights.   

Contact [email protected] to schedule a tour of one of the boats docked outside the Westin Ottawa during one of the times below:

  • Sunday, August 11: From 3:00pm-6:00pm
  • Thursday, August 15: From 8:00am-10:00am

Be sure to check more great ideas in the Museums and Special Events sections (some may have costs associated)!

REGISTRATION REQUIRED

REGISTRATION REQUIRED

For Media Only: Alegría by Cirque du Soleil
www.cirquedusoleil.com/alegria
Cirque du Soleil’s most beloved production revived in today’s spirit to inspire a new generation of spectators. Email [email protected] to request your ticket code for 15% off a regular priced ticket. Coupon code is valid for week day shows between the following dates:

  • Between Monday, August 5 and Saturday, August 10
  • Between Thursday, August 15 and Monday, August 19

Oh Canada Eh? Dinner Show
www.ohcanadaehottawa.com
A two-hour musical celebration of Canada featuring more than 65 Canadian hit songs, a cast of authentic characters, and a deliciously patriotic Canadian meal! Shows are offered from June 28 to September, 14, 2019. Check the schedule, and get your ticket online! 

Be sure to check more great ideas in the Museums and Special Events sections (some may have costs associated)!

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

Businesses listed here are located within or near downtown Ottawa unless marked with *asterisks*

  • July 19-September 8, 2019 (Thursday to Sunday): Gatineau Beerfest Patio, Zibi: www.facebook.com/events/1249894815193308 – Discover the products of almost 30 microbreweries from different Québec regions every week on this brand-new terrace and interior space bordering the Ottawa River. The menu also includes cocktails, mocktails and non-alcoholic beers, as well as food from Olivia Bistro’s food truck.
  • August 7-11, 2019: *Festival Country du Grand Gatineau*, Robert Guertin Arena, Gatineau Québec: www.countrygatineau.com – Over 40 country music artists perform on outdoor stages under big tops, as well as indoors.
  • August 7-11, 2019: Asinabka Film & Media Arts Festival, Various Locations: www.asinabkafestival.org – An opportunity for Indigenous peoples to tell their own stories and showcase their rich and vibrant culture in Canada’s capital region. Free matinee documentary short screenings at the Ottawa Art Gallery on Sunday, August 11! 
  • August 10-11, 2019: *Carp Garlic Festival*, Carp, Ontario: www.carpfarmersmarket.ca/carp-garlic-festival – Celebrating all things garlic! Shop from 110 local vendors, take part in special garlic-themed events like cooking demos, garlic tasting, and garlic shots! Free admission and parking. Kid and pet friendly.
  • August 10-11, 2019: *Perth Garlic Festival*, Perth, Ontario: perthgarlicfestival.com – Celebrate the ‘stinking rose’! Perth is scented with the pungent aroma of garlic while thousands of ‘garlic heads’ revel in the many attributes of this wonderful herb.
  • August 11, 2019 : *Fanaticcon Ottawa*, Ottawa Conference and Event Centre: www.facebook.com/events/401794767058509 – Celebrate fandom of all geek culture. Explore collectibles, toys, comics, gaming, art, cosplay, and more.
  • August 14-18, 2019: *Curd Festival*, St. Albert Cheese Factory Co-op, St-Albert Ontario: festivaldelacurd.ca – Celebrate the Co-op’s 125th anniversary with diverse activities, live music, and lots of cheese for the whole family.
  • August 14-19, 2019: *Twist Fibre Festival*, St-André-Avellin, Québec: www.festivaltwist.org – A unique fibre festival featuring fibre producers, fleece animal breeders, artisans and exhibitors from all trades of the fibre industry.
  • August 15-25, 2019: *Ottawa Greekfest*, 1315 Prince of Wales Drive: www.ottawagreekfest.com – This annual 11-day festival showcases live Greek music, traditional dances, excellent Greek cuisine, language lessons and demonstrations of all sorts!
  • August 16-25, 2019: *Capital Fair*, Rideau Carleton Raceway: www.capitalfair.ca – Featuring a demolition derby, a petting zoo, stunt dogs, and much more!
  • August 17, 2019: *A Taste of Manotick*, Manotick Village, Ontario: www.manotickvillage.com/event/a-taste-of-manotick/ – Check out fantastic specialty/gift stores, stylish clothing, and more. There will be tasting, samples, draws, and demonstrations.
  • August 17, 2019: Ottawa REDBLACKS game: Lansdowne: ottawaredblacks.com – Ottawa takes on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in an exciting Canadian Football League home game.
  • August 17-18, 2019: Westboro Fuse, Westboro neighbourhood: westborovillage.com – The event is a free, hip and exciting weekend-long street party and neighbourhood showcase, boasting interactive fun, family-friendly programming, live music, culinary experiences, and so much more.
  • August 18-25, 2019: Capital Pride Festival, Various locations: ottawacapitalpride.ca – Ottawa’s rainbow community will be jumping on the pride wagon. From culture to partying, there’s an event for everyone. Parade and show on Sunday, August 25.

For more information on these events and others, see the Ottawa Tourism Events page.

MUSEUMS

MUSEUMS

The following museum exhibitions will be showing over the course of GoMedia 2019, and would be great to check out either before or after the conference. Note that Ottawa’s great national museums offer free admission during certain times of the week.

Special exhibitions include:

Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius: May 2-September 2, 2019
Canada Science and Technology Museum
The most comprehensive exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci to tour the world is in Ottawa for its first-ever visit to Canada! See and interact with over 200 unique displays, including machine inventions, life-size reproductions of Leonardo’s Renaissance art, entertaining animations giving insight into his most notable works, and touchscreen versions of his actual codices.

Pterosaur: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs: June 15-September 2, 2019
Canadian Museum of Nature
This blockbuster exhibit reveals the weird and terrifying flying creatures that dominated the prehistoric skies. Journey through the Mesozoic Era (252 to 66 million years ago) with the largest flying animals that ever lived. Learn more about them through fossils, impressive models, and unique interactives.

Butterflies in Flight: October 6, 2018 – October 14, 2019
Canadian Museum of Nature
Enter a world of brilliant live butterflies! Experience a warm and relaxing tropical environment with flowering plants and hundreds of live butterflies. Entry requires timed ticket.

Gauguin: Portraits: May 24-September 8, 2019
National Gallery of Canada
The first ever in-depth investigation into one of the 19th century’s most influential and complex artists: Paul Gauguin. Explore how the French artist gave symbolic meaning to his subjects through his portraits of models, fellow artists, and even himself. See 65 carefully selected works by Gauguin including paintings, works on paper, and three-dimensional objects from public and private collections around the world.

Highland Warriors: May 31, 2019-January 12, 2020
Canadian War Museum
Discover the origins and culture of one of the most iconic and enduring military figures: the Highland soldier. Over a hundred artifacts—from fearsome broadswords to resplendent tartans—connect the fierce and respected clan warriors to the proud military traditions of Highland regiments in Canada today.

Invasion! – Canadians and the Battle of Normandy, 1944: June 6-November 24, 2019
Canadian War Museum
The exhibition pairs powerful photographs of key events with reproduced archival items to showcase seven personal stories of incredible Canadians.

Neanderthals: May 17, 2019-January 26, 2020
Canadian Museum of History
This major exhibition provides new insight into Neanderthals based on the most recent scientific discoveries. See exceptional fossils rarely shown to the public from Europe’s most prominent research institutions. Discover how Neanderthals lived throughout Eurasia for 300,000 years before mysteriously disappearing 30,000 years ago.

Prime Ministers and the Arts: Creators, Collectors and Muses: February 7, 2019-December 3, 2019
Library and Archives Canada
Learn about the artistic interests and impacts of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir John Sparrow, David Thompson, and other Canadian prime ministers.