Ottawa Tourism

What’s Up in Ottawa – Fall 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

Download the PDF

The Party Doesn't End in 2018!

The Party Doesn't End 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 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.
  • 2018 is the Canada-China Year of Tourism, and since Ottawa is a sister city of Beijing, we intend to celebrate! The 25th edition of the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival takes place June 21-24, 2018, while the second-ever Ice Dragon Boat Festival takes place February 8-11, 2018.
  • The OTTAWA sign installed in May 2017 as part of the Canada 150 celebrations becomes permanent in fall 2017 on York Street in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. A similar sign (missing a T so that people can form it themselves) is on Sparks Street between Metcalfe and O’Connor) and a CANADA 150 sign sits on the west lawn of Parliament Hill.
Halloween and Other Fall Treats in Ottawa!

Halloween and Other Fall Treats in Ottawa!

A riot of colour explodes each autumn

The beautiful fall colours are the first things to love about Ottawa autumns but certainly not the last! Enjoy Fall Rhapsody in Gatineau Park, weekends September 30-October 22, 2017—and hiking in the gorgeous park all year round—or explore the Greenbelt surrounding Ottawa, including the unique Mer Bleue bog with its Arctic-like flora and fauna.

The National Arts Centre, fresh from a July 1 opening of a gorgeous new glass façade and entranceway, presents the Ideas of North Festival October 3-14. Explore perspectives on the North through music, architecture, digital installations, and the culinary arts, with both free and paid events.

Ottawa is the place to go if you’re looking to satisfy a Halloween craving, but want to try something besides the usual candy! Though, if you ARE looking for candy on October 31, try Rideau Hall (home of the Governor General): between 5:00 and 8:00pm, the grounds are decorated! Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went trick or treating with his young family in the neighbourhood!

Haunting Season at Saunders Farm (September 23-October 31, 2017; mainly Friday through Sunday: check schedule) is a tradition for families in the Ottawa area. In addition to spooky activities like the Haunted Hay Ride and Barn of Terror, the many outdoor mazes, and special programming for kids, Saunders Farm is also a working farm at its heart. Besides growing some of the food sold at the restaurants on-site, they are also members of Savour Ottawa and work with a number of other local producers and growers.

The Haunted Walk of Ottawa pulls out all the stops between September 29 and November 4, 2017 to introduce visitors and locals alike to the city’s spooky history. The creepy ghost stories and haunting in the Original Haunted Walk and the Ghosts and the Gallows Tour are fun for everyone who loves a great fright!

The Haunted Walk folks have also paired with the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum, a chilling enough attraction since it was built to withstand a nuclear blast. During Incident at the Bunker: A Zombie Adventure, visitors are whisked back in time to a fictional outbreak at the bunker which leads to a zombie attack! October 14, 28, 29 and November 4, 2017.

Ottawa Remembers

Ottawa Remembers

Rememberance Day Activities

Each year, Ottawa hosts the national Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial downtown. A moving experience each and every November 11. Admission is also free at the Canadian War Museum that day, and a special service takes place at Beechwood Cemetery, which is the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces.

This year, to mark the centenary of World War I, the 680,000 names of those killed in 1917 (from all participating countries) are projected onto the Government Conference Centre nearby, each night between September 24 and November 11, 2017 as part of The World Remembers project.

Ottawa: The Headquarters of Canada's 150th Birthday Party!

Ottawa: The Headquarters of Canada's 150th Birthday Party!

The year of celebration continues!

Although summer has come to an end, the year-long celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday is still 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

Some fall highlights:

  • Various dates: Free cultural events at Lansdowne via 75 high commissions and embassies at Ottawa Welcomes the World.
  • October 6-November 4: Mìwàte, Illumination of the Chaudière Falls highlights local First Nations culture and projects a free evening sound and light display onto the falls, which have been publicly inaccessible for over 100 years.
  • November 21-26: A week of Canadian football celebrations leading up to the 105th Grey Cup championship game at Lansdowne.
  • Throughout the year, 10 diplomatic missions showcase their countries’ relationship with Canada at an International Pavilion at 7 Clarence Street: – Hungary (September 30-October 28) – Delegation of the EU to Canada (November 2-12) – Republic of the Philippines (November 20-December 8)
  • November 13-18: Live gaming championships projected onto buildings across the city at the Videogame Happening.
  • December 2-10: The Roar of the Rings (Canadian Olympic Curling Trials) come to Ottawa.
  • December 16: The Ottawa Senators play the Montréal Canadiens at the NHL100 Classic™ outdoor game at Lansdowne, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Hockey League and the 125th anniversary of Stanley Cup trophy. A monument to Governor General Lord Stanley’s gift, the Stanley Cup, is also unveiled this fall on Sparks Street.
Ottawa's Best of the Best

Ottawa's Best of the Best

Recent accolades and achievements

Ottawa was named #1 in the Canada’s Best Places to Live feature in MoneySense magazine in July 2017, for the second year in a row.

Congratulations to Ottawa-based Escape Manor, which organized the world’s largest scavenger hunt (according to Guinness World Records) on September 10, 2017 as part of the Ottawa 2017 festivities: 2,733 people participated (the previous record was 2,079).

Ottawa was named the top student city in the world. The QS Best Student Cities Index asked 18,000 students and graduates to rate their cities in eight categories: arts and culture, affordability, nightlife, employment opportunities, diversity, tolerance and inclusion, ease of getting around, and friendliness.

Museum Round-Up

Museum Round-Up

What’s Shaking in Ottawa’s Museums

New! Mark your calendars for the completely renovated NEW! Canada Science and Technology Museum, opening November 17, 2017 (50 years to the day of its inauguration). The new museum promises an immersive, interactive, and fun experience featuring completely redesigned exhibits, a demo stage, and more artifacts than ever before.

New! The Ottawa Art Gallery is set to open this fall, featuring over 50,000 square feet of exhibition space. Until then, be sure to check out the special OAG Annex inside Ottawa City Hall.

At the National Gallery of Canada, the 4th edition of Canadian Biennial features the way in which artists working in Canada and internationally deal with an increasingly globalized world (October 19, 2017-March 18, 2018). You can also enjoy Joseph Beuys (until November 26, 2017) and Canadian and Indigenous Art: 1968 to Present (until April 30, 2018).

Check out Moments from 150 Years Ago, the inaugural exhibition in the new Treasures From Library and Archives Canada gallery at the Canadian Museum of History (until January 28, 2018) for a glimpse into the everyday lives of Canadians 150 years ago. At the Canadian Children’s Museum inside, get a behind-the-scenes look at the world of racing at Hot Wheels – Race to Win, until January 7, 2018.

Experience Nunavut through the eyes of the territory’s students in the video exhibition Voices of Nunavut, until October 22, 2017 at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Discover some of the Indigenous people of the Arctic through the special exhibit, Frost: Life and Culture of the Sámi People (September 23-October 22, 2017).

Starting October 17, 2017 at the Canadian War Museum, Preserved in Stone – Underground Art of the First World War showcases 3D reproductions of marks left in the soft stone by Canadian troops preparing for the Battle of Vimy Ridge (until January 7, 2018). The exhibition Vimy – 100 Years, further commemorates the centenary of this pivotal battle (until November 12, 2017).

Head to the Bytown Museum on October 25, 2017 to celebrate its 100th anniversary. While there, check out A Century of Community featuring eclectic works and images from the museum’s primary collections. Until February 19, 2018.

At the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, wander through Treasures from the Diefenbunker with a series of monthly features highlighting archival documents and artifacts from their collection (until December 2017).

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!

  • Congratulations to Ottawa-based Stella Luna Gelato, named Canada’s best gelato and recipient of a special mention journalists’ choice at the Gelato World Tour in Italy in September 2017.
  • Julian Bernard, a mixologist from Fauna Ottawa, won the MadeWithLove national cocktail competition in Montréal, beating out 13 other finalists from 7 Canadian cities.
  • New! An outdoor pizzeria in Ottawa? That’s what Il Vicolo (opened in September 2017) offers in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. Heaters and blankets take the edge off the chill and the pizzas are amazing!
  • New! Popular food cart Gongfu Bao opens a bricks-and-mortar location on Bank Street in downtown Ottawa soon. Delicious!
  • New! The popular OZ Kafe, formerly of Elgin Street, has reopened in a tuckedaway corner of the Clarendon Courtyard in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. Veggie friendly and great for late-night eats!
  • The venerable Fairmont Château Laurier welcomes a new restaurant chef, Zachary Resnick (formerly of Fauna and Bar Laurel), and is also refreshing its Zoé’s Lounge, a great cocktail spot and home to their famous afternoon tea service. Tea takes place in Wilfrid’s, the main dining room, until Zoé’s reopens in November 2017.
  • New! Ottawa’s Hilton Garden Inn Ottawa Airport is now in the honey business! They take care of 50,000 bees and are selling raw wildflower honey, with some of the proceeds going to help bee conservation efforts.
  • New! The Feline Café opened in spring 2017 in the hip Wellington West neighbourhood, providing a place to enjoy the company of 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.
  • New! The original El Camino restaurant on Elgin Street opened a second location serving 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. Congrats to Riviera on being named to enRoute’s long list of Canada’s Best New Restaurants.
  • 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 opened summer 2017 in the Wellington West neighbourhood.
  • 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! After a small delay from their planned summer 2017 opening, Flora Hall Brewing opens its craft brewery, scratch kitchen, tap room, and beer shop in a beautifully restored heritage building in downtown Ottawa this fall.
  • Now in its 32nd year, the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival is one of the hottest tickets in town for its multitude of food and drink offerings! November 3-5, 2017 at the EY Centre.
  • New! Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, the official brewery of Ottawa 2017, has launched an off-shoot, Halcyon Barrel House, specializing in small batches Riviera of wild and sour ales.