Ottawa Tourism

What’s Up in Ottawa – Spring 2019

So many stories, so little time… Is that your story? If so, feel welcome to use the information on these pages to get your creative juices flowing. There are so many great ideas and angles for stories on visiting Ottawa and Canada’s Capital Region, and just a few are available on this website. If you have a specific need, niche or story idea that isn’t covered here, please contact our Communications Team

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SPRING INTO ACTION

SPRING INTO ACTION

As the city warms, the syrup flows—check out lots of great maple syrup activities at sugar bushes across the Ottawa region. Some great events include maple season at Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm (weekends until April 21), Proulx Maple Farm season (weekends until April 22), maple fun at the Log Farm (weekends until April 7), Maple Weekend in Lanark county (April 6-7), and even a Sugar Festival (April 6-7) at Vanier Museopark, an urban sugar shack just minutes from downtown Ottawa (open to the public for maple activities until late April)! Enjoy the maple season (until April 22) at Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush and wish them well on their 50th anniversary in 2019.

Foodies won’t want to miss all the great food and drink festivals happening in Ottawa this spring! The first ever Coffeefest is at Lansdowne March 23; vegans will flock there for the Vegan Night Market on April 6; the gooey, cheesy Grilled Cheese Festival is at Ottawa City Hall April 19-20; Poutinefest on Sparks takes over the pedestrian-only thoroughfare April 25-28; Ottawa Poutinefest sets up at Ottawa City Hall May 2-5; and beer lovers flock to the Ottawa Beer Fest at Lansdowne May 10-11.

Ottawa is in bloom with over a million tulips this spring at the Canadian Tulip Festival (May 10-20). This year, the festival’s action will centre around Dow’s Lake and Commissioners Park, but you’ll still find tulip beds blooming throughout the city. Enjoy the Victoria Day Fireworks display on Sunday, May 19, along with lots of great entertainment, music, dance, art, shopping, storytelling, fireworks, and other fun! Get ready for 2020, which is the 75th anniversary of the first gift of tulips given to Canada as a thank you for sheltering the Dutch Royal Family during WWII and for Canadian troops’ work to liberate the Netherlands.

Burn off those calories with great active options across Ottawa including NOKIA Sunday Bikedays, which see major roads closing to vehicles on Sundays throughout the summer beginning May 19; and Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend with the international Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon and other racing events May 25-26.

Even more great garden events can be found during spring, summer, and fall through the Garden Promenade website and along the Garden Route.

MUSEUM ROUND-UP

MUSEUM ROUND-UP

  • At the Canadian Museum of History, learn about the species now considered as our equals by scientists at the exhibition Neanderthals (May 17, 2019 – January 26, 2020).
  • Check out evocative works from private collections from around the world at the National Gallery of Canada’s exhibition Gauguin: Portraits (May 24 – September 8, 2019) 
  • At the Canadian War Museum, learn about the Highland soldier at the exhibition Highland Warriors (May 31, 2019 – January 12, 2020) and make sure to catch Victory 1918 – The Last 100 Days before it closes March 31, 2019.
  • At the Canada Science and Technology Museum, check out the most comprehensive exhibition experience on Leonardo da Vinci to tour the world, Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius (May 2-September 2, 2019). 
  • Learn about the South African (Boer) War in 1899 at Bytown Museum’s exhibition, The Gallant Thousand: Ottawa and the South African War, marking the 120th anniversary of the beginning of the war (May 17, 2019 – February 17, 2020).
    New! $2 admission to the museum for everyone.
  • Visit the FREE! Ottawa Art Gallery to see Canadian artist Juan Geuer’s inventive approach to installation bordering science and art at Carbon and Light – Juan Geuer’s Luminous Precision (until August 18, 2019) and make sure to check out the interactive video and four-channel audio installation, Cheryl Pagurek: Connect (April 12 – August 11, 2019).
  • At the Canadian Museum of Nature, come face-to-face with live iguanas, bats, rattlesnakes, hedgehogs, and— of course—a sloth at the Survival of the Slowest exhibition (until April 28, 2019). While there, warm up with Butterflies in Flight featuring live butterflies (until April 28, 2019) and, this summer, check out Pterosaur: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs (June 15 – September 2, 2019)
  • At the Bank of Canada Museum, find out about Viola Desmond, the first woman (other than royalty) to appear on Canada’s bank notes (she’s on the new $10 bill). The A Noteworthy Woman exhibition runs until May 12, 2019.
OTTAWA TOURISM TRAVEL WRITING AWARD

OTTAWA TOURISM TRAVEL WRITING AWARD

If you write about Ottawa or Canada’s capital region in English or in French in 2019, you should consider submitting your piece into the Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Award contest for a chance to win $500 CAD. Include your name, address, e-mail address, and telephone number; as well as the name of the publication and the date the item was published. Entries must have appeared in print or online between January 1 and December 31, 2019. There is no fee to enter, nor a limit on the number of articles an individual may submit (though each entry must be submitted separately). The submissions must be received by 5:00pm on February 7, 2020. 

PARLIAMENT HILL TRANSFORMATION

PARLIAMENT HILL TRANSFORMATION

At the end of January 2019, the Parliament of Canada’s Centre Block closed to the public as the building undergoes a decade-long rehabilitation. Starting February 1, tours have been offered at two new sites: West Block—the interim home of the House of Commons— and the Senate of Canada Building (previously known as the Government Conference Centre and once Ottawa’s central train station)—the interim home of the Senate—on the days that the Parliament is not sitting. To maximize the visitor experience, more tours than ever will be offered at the two sites during peak hours and tour hours are extended during certain days of the year.

A new Visitor Welcome Centre (located between West Block and Centre Block) greets visitors to West Block and a new online booking system for both of these free tours is now available via visit.parl.ca

In the summer of 2019, outdoor activities and events on Parliament Hill such as the Changing of the Guard ceremony, Canada Day celebrations, weekly Yoga on Parliament Hill sessions, and the Sound and Light Show will take place as per usual on the front lawn of Parliament Hill.

CANNABIS TOURISM

CANNABIS TOURISM

Marijuana was legalized in Canada as of October 17, 2018. And while this was a national decree, each province in Canada was able to set its own laws about how to implement such a change. In Ontario, an age limit (19) applies; consumption in public places, workplaces, and motor vehicles is prohibited; and sales began online, through a government website.

Sales in private businesses are permitted as of April 1, 2019 and three retail locations are under development in Ottawa: on York Street in the ByWard Market neighbourhood; on Bank Street downtown; and on Wellington Street West in the neighbourhood of the same name.

Meanwhile, Canopy Growth, in Smiths Falls (about an hour’s drive southwest of Ottawa), aims to become the world’s #1 cannabis company. Located in a former chocolate factory, the company has opened the Tweed Visitor Centre, offering selfguided tours to adults, highlighting the history of cannabis and a chance to see real grow rooms.

OTTAWA RACE WEEKEND

OTTAWA RACE WEEKEND

More than 33,000 runners plan to participate in the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend May 25-26, 2019. This is the largest multi-distance race event in Canada; the largest marathon in Canada (Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon); one of only two IAAF-sanctioned marathons in Canada; and the only IAAF-sanctioned 10K in Canada. In fact, it’s the only IAAF double gold event in the world! A half-marathon, 5K, 2K, and kids’ run also take place.

QUICK BITES OF OTTAWA’S FOOD AND DRINK SCENE

QUICK BITES OF OTTAWA’S FOOD AND DRINK SCENE

  • Throughout 2019, beloved cheesemakers St. Albert Cheese Co-operative celebrate 125 years of making delicious cheese—especially loved are the squeaky cheese curds used in poutine!
  • Speaking of poutine, Ottawa gives you two separate opportunities in spring to indulge your cravings. Enjoy French fries, gravy, and cheese curds at Poutinefest on Sparks Street (April 25-28) and Ottawa Poutinefest outside Ottawa City Hall (May 2-5). 
  • New! Ottawa’s Chinatown neighbourhood welcomed Corner Peach in January 2019, a cool café during the day that transforms into a “fancy diner” at night. 
  • New! The food hall concept has arrived in Ottawa with the launch of Queen St. Fare, which opened in early December 2018 on, yes, Queen Street in downtown Ottawa. Choose from Mexican, Vietnamese, pizzas, burgers, and plentiful vegetarian options—not to mention great local craft beer and talented mixologists. The venue— adjacent to a stop along the (coming-in-2019) Light Rail Transit system called the Confederation Line—has a capacity of 390 and hosts regular live music events. 
  • The second annual Vegan Night Market takes place April 6 at Lansdowne.
  • New! OCCO Kitchen, which has delighted diners in Ottawa’s Orléans neighbourhood for years, opened a downtown location at the Albert at Bay Suite Hotel in early 2019.
  • New! The Rabbit Hole hides its expansive stone-walled basement under a small street-level space on Sparks Street in downtown Ottawa.
  • New! Popular chef Joe Thottungal opened a sister restaurant to Coconut Lagoon: Thali serves platters that cover sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent, and spicy flavours all on one plate, right in downtown Ottawa.
  • New! In Almonte, Ontario, a new distillery has opened that makes its products with milk byproducts, reducing waste and supporting local dairy farmers. Dairy Distillery’s vodka—called Vodkow, of course—is sold in clear glass milk bottles! 
  • New! Brew Revolution joins the local craft brewery scene when it opens in the west-end suburb of Stittsville in spring 2019.
  • New! Kichesippi Brewing Company opens a new—much larger—tasting room in spring 2019.
  • A stalwart of the ByWard Market neighbourhood, the Fish Market Restaurant (along with its downstairs wine cellar Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro and its upstairs pub Coasters Seafood Grill) celebrates its 40th anniversary in April 2019.
  • New! An Ottawa coffee company is tackling the issue of unsafe drinking water on First Nations reserves in Canada. For every 40 bags of coffee sold, Birch Bark Coffee Company can provide one water filtration system. Great coffee for a great cause!