Ottawa Tourism

What’s Up in Ottawa – Summer 2017

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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Ottawa the Headquarters of Canada's 150th Birthday Party

Ottawa the Headquarters of Canada's 150th Birthday Party

The year of celebration continues!

A year-long celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday is well underway in Canada’s capital! Download a complete list of all blockbuster cultural and sporting events, openings and legacy projects at www.ottawatourism.ca/ottawa-in-2017 This document is kept up-to-date as announcements are made. Be sure to download the Android and iOS app as well: www.ottawa2017.ca/ottawa-2017-app

Summer highlights include:

  • Various dates: Free cultural events at Lansdowne via 75 high commissions and embassies at Ottawa Welcomes the World
  • July 1, 2017: The biggest Canada Day party of them all!
  • July 2, 2017: The Interprovincial Picnic on the Bridge offers picnic spots overlooking Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River on the Alexandra Bridge walkway
  • July 2, 2017: We Day continues the celebration on Parliament Hill with inspirational special guests
  • July 7-22, 2017 (excluding July 10): Sky Lounge, a gourmet experience 150 feet in the air with Chef Stephen La Salle of feast + revel
  • July 16 to September 14, 2017: Kontinuum, an underground multimedia experience, brings a free interactive sound and light fantasy voyage into an unfinished underground light rail transit tunnel—a world first!
  • July 27-30, 2017: Downtown Ottawa is taken over by La Machine’s roving, larger-than-life mechanical spider and fire-breathing dragon. A North American first!
  • August 21, 2017: YOWttawa, a large-scale, outdoor, ticketed musical event, features national and international artists
  • August 21-27, 2017: The Canadian Pacific Women’s Open brings the world’s best women golfers to the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club!
  • August 27, 2017: Canada’s Table, an outdoor dining experience featuring all-Canadian dishes served by Canadian top chefs to 1,000 guests, with Parliament Hill’s Sound and Light Show as a backdrop
  • Over the course of the year, 10 diplomatic missions showcase their countries’ relationship with Canada at the International Pavilion at 7 Clarence Street:
    • Germany (June 27-July 19, 2017)
    • Ireland (August 17-27, 2017)
    • Belgium (September 2-23, 2017)
  • May 20-September 4: Inspiration Village—constructed of shipping containers—highlights Canada’s provinces and territories on York Street in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. Don’t miss the larger-than-life OTTAWA sign, the perfect stop for a selfie!
Garden Promenade

Garden Promenade

Visit the blooms any way you like

Ottawa’s new Garden Promenade encourages you to explore a 15km route with some of the region’s best garden experiences… from the rose garden at Rideau Hall to the Fletcher Wildlife Garden and Dominion Arboretum to the rooftop garden at the Canadian War Museum and more!

A Festive Summer in #MyOttawa

A Festive Summer in #MyOttawa

Music and more!

Summer is the time to get out and enjoy festivals in Ottawa!

While Canada Day (July 1) is the biggest party in Ottawa—complete with concerts, great food and the largest pyromusical fireworks show ever presented in Canada’s capital region— it also marks a day of free programming for the venerable TD Ottawa Jazz Festival (June 22–July 2).

The RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest (July 6–16) continues the fun. Don’t let the name fool you—from Muse to 50 Cent, from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers to P!nk, Sam Roberts Band, and lots more, audiences have an eclectic mix of music to enjoy. Bluesfest also overlaps its dates (and maybe even some of its audience) with Music and Beyond (July 4–17), an exploration of classical music including a free concert at the National Arts Centre, an evening with Sarah Chang and Julio Elizalde, and music of Russian composer Anton Arensky on the menu.

The world-renowned Ottawa Chamberfest (July 22–August 4) hosts many of its concerts in churches. This year, enjoy the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Stephen Hough, Art of Time Ensemble’s interpretation of the legendary Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album by The Beatles, and more!

On Parliament Hill, Fortissimo: Beating Retreat Ceremony, a military and musical spectacular, features massed military bands, pipes and drums, guest performers and the soldiers of the Ceremonial Guard (July 20-22).

The Ottawa Busker Festival on Sparks Street takes place August 3-7. Unorthodox entertainment by street performers from around the world includes clowns, jugglers, acrobats and magic tricks. Free admission but donations appreciated.

The annual Capital Pride Festival takes place August 21-27 and features many community events and the popular parade on the final day.

The Arboretum Festival (August 18–20) marries great indie music with delicious food and this year will be held at Rideau Pines Farm in rural Ottawa!

The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival (August 31- September 4) fills the sky with colourful balloons, while a number of exciting shows take place as well.

The CityFolk festival takes place at Lansdowne Park September 13–17. This year’s lineup includes Broken Social Scene, Rodriguez, Jack Johnson, and more.

The Ottawa International Animation Festival presents screenings of cutting-edge and thoughtful animation films (September 20–24).

Yousuf Karsh Commemorated

Yousuf Karsh Commemorated

New sculpture

A statue of Yousuf Karsh, famed 20th century portrait photographer who worked and lived at the Fairmont Château Laurier, can now be found outside the hotel, thanks to a donation by the Armenian government.

Quick Bites of Ottawa's Food and Drink Scene

Quick Bites of Ottawa's Food and Drink Scene

Tempt your palate with these delicious offerings!

  • New! Ottawa’s newest seasonal place to grab a drink or a bite with a killer view is Tavern on the Hill in Major’s Hill Park with Instagram-worthy views of Parliament Hill, the Ottawa River, and more.
  • New! The Feline Café opened in spring 2017 in the hip Wellington West neighbourhood, providing a place to enjoy the company of feline friends (rescue cats up for adoption!), while enjoying vegan food and drinks.
  • New! In June 2017, Ottawa’s classic Zak’s Diner opened Zak’s Cantina, serving Mexican street food in a laid back ambiance with urban décor. Bonus: patrons are able to eat inside a chicken bus (a colourful decorated bus that transports goods and people between communities in Latin America).
  • New! The original El Camino restaurant on Elgin Street plans to open a second location for its famous tacos on Clarence Street in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. The same owners offer Asian fusion at Datsun on Elgin Street and fine-dining + cocktails at the lovely Riviera on Sparks Street.
  • New! Vibrant chef-owner Michael Blackie of NeXT restaurant in Stittsville (Ottawa’s west end) hosts Three Chefs, One Dinner nights featuring guest chefs from across North America once a month through November.
  • New! Ottawa’s only zero-waste grocery store NU Grocery opens summer 2017 in the Wellington West neighbourhood.
  • Congratulations to Joe Thottungal, chef and owner of Coconut Lagoon, which serves delicious dishes from the south Indian state of Kerala. Thottungal won silver at the Canadian Culinary Championships in early February 2017.
  • New! Sur Lie, an unpretentious French bistro, opened in the ByWard Market neighbourhood in early 2017.
  • New! Two new openings happened in spring 2017 on opposite corners of Nicholas and Rideau Streets near CF Rideau Centre: JOEY Restaurant and the local brewpub chain, the Clocktower.
  • New! An ornate addition has been added to the already popular The Albion Rooms restaurant at the Novotel Ottawa; The Heritage Room Gastropub officially opened in mid-March 2017.
  • New! Craft brewery tour service BrewDonkey has upgraded its wheels, featuring a branded bus with comfy seating to take you to the best craft breweries in the region!
  • New! Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, the official brewery of Ottawa 2017, has now launched an off-shoot, Halcyon Barrel House, specializing in small batches of wild and sour ales.
  • New! The Elgin Beer Project opened in spring 2017 serving all local craft beers and creative snacks.
  • New! Flora Hall Brewing opens a craft brewery, kitchen, tap room and beer shop in a heritage building in downtown Ottawa in summer 2017.
  • New! Vimy Brewing Company, a new craft brewery with large taproom, opened its doors in April 2017.
Museum Roundup

Museum Roundup

What’s shakin’ in Ottawa’s museums?

The newly renovated and integrated Canadian and Indigenous Galleries opened on June 15, 2017 at the National Gallery of Canada. Our Masterpieces, Our Stories (until September 4, 2017), a celebration of art in Canada, features close to 1,000 works of art. Also check out PhotoLab 2: Women Speaking Art (until September 10, 2017), Photography in Canada: 1960-2000 (until September 17, 2017), and Canadian and Indigenous Art 1968 to Present (until April 30, 2018).

Experience life in Canada’s vast northernmost region at the Canadian Museum of Nature’s new permanent Canada Goose Arctic Gallery (opened June 21, 2017). See the history and culture of Northern communities through their own perspective starting with Inuinnauyugut: We are Inuinnait, the inaugural exhibition. Dance the night away on the last Friday of most months at Nature Nocturne.

On July 1, 2017, the Canadian Museum of History unveils its new Canadian History Hall, telling the story of Canada through 18 “chapters” of artifacts in three galleries. You can also check out Hockey (until October 9, 2017), which explores Canada’s historic love of the sport and its impact on Canadian identity and Canada: Day 1 (until January 8, 2018) to discover the stories, first steps, first impressions, and first experiences of immigrants from Confederation in 1867 to the present day.

At the Ottawa Art Gallery, social practice artist Carmen Papalia highlights objects from his practice-based research on the topic of organizing for accessibility and mutual aid with the exhibition Open Access: A Demonstration (until August 13, 2017).

At the Canadian War Museum, the 100th anniversary of the pivotal Battle of Vimy Ridge is commemorated with the exhibition Vimy – 100 Years (until November 12, 2017). Learn about the contributions of the Jewish community in Canada at the Canadian Jewish Experience (until September 4, 2017).

The Bytown Museum celebrates its 100th anniversary by showcasing objects from its permanent collection in A Century of Community. Until February 19, 2018.

At the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, Canadian artist Valerie Noftle’s exhibition From Hand to Hand, exploring the stories of veterans through photographs of their hands, is on until July 30, 2017. Wander through Treasures from the Diefenbunker with the new year-long series of monthly features highlighting archival documents and artifacts from the Diefenbunker collection (until December 2017).

Explore the heart of the economic system at the Bank of Canada Museum (formerly the Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada), reopening on July 1, 2017.

And finally, don’t forget to mark your calendars for the completely renovated Canada Science and Technology Museum, opening on November 17, 2017 (50 years to the day of its inauguration)!

The Party Doesn't End in Ottawa in 2018!

The Party Doesn't End in Ottawa in 2018!

Longer-range story ideas

While 2017 will be a fantastic year, don’t think that the party stops at the end of the year! Beyond the impressive list of legacy projects like the National Arts Centre entranceway; new Bank of Canada Museum; and new Canada Science and Technology Museum; there’s a lot to look forward to in 2018 and beyond, including:

  • In early 2018, the upscale Le Germain Ottawa hotel will open in a mixed-use complex combining condominiums, a theatre and the completely redone Ottawa Art Gallery (opening fall 2017).
  • Le Boat makes its North American debut on the Rideau Canal between May and October 2018. These luxury self-drive boats are based halfway along the 202-km (126-mile) Canal and offer two-, three- or four-cabin options. From Kingston to downtown Ottawa and passing by quintessential rural Ontario towns, you can explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site at your own pace.
  • Ottawa’s largest infrastructure project since the building of the Rideau Canal, the Light Rail Transit System’s Confederation Line opens in spring 2018 connecting 13 stations (including 3 underground in the downtown core)!
  • Canada’s Centre for Geography and Exploration will open at 50 Sussex Drive, adjacent to the beautiful Rideau Falls, in spring 2018! This permanent interpretive geography centre will include a 210-seat auditorium, spaces for teachers and students, as well as Canadian Geographic’s editorial offices.
  • The Rideau Carleton Raceway will become the Hard Rock Ottawa Casino over the next few years. More than $320 million will be invested, starting in fall 2017, to revitalize this entertainment destination.