Ottawa Tourism

What’s Up in Ottawa – Spring 2018

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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It's Tulip Time!

It's Tulip Time!

Spring in Ottawa is synonymous with the Canadian Tulip Festival (May 11-21, 2018). The tulip is Ottawa’s official flower, stemming from World War II, when the Dutch Royal Family took refuge in Ottawa and Princess Margriet—the younger sister of the recently retired Queen Beatrix—was born during their stay. Canadian troops played a pivotal role in the liberation of the Netherlands, so when the war ended and the Royal Family returned to Europe, they sent a gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa. The gift of tulips continues to this day.

This year, the 66th annual festival, with the theme A World of Tulips, extends over 5 official sites: the main tulip beds at Commissioners Park at Dows Lake; tulip art and programming curated by artist Monique Martin in the ByWard Market neighbourhood; fun family programming, performance, art and more at Lansdowne; tulips sprouting throughout the city along the Garden Promenade; and new this year a location at the Zibi site in Gatineau! Zibi, located just past Chaudière and Victoria Islands on the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River, is a sustainable community and redevelopment project which during the Canadian Tulip Festival will become a site for foodies with tulip-inspired culinary offerings prepared by local chefs.

Also new this year is the Tulip Trail, which links Commissioners Park to Lansdowne Park with fun facts, animation, and more along the way that make this 20-minute walk from one site to the other a quick, fun trip!

Ottawa Art Gallery Project Impresses

Ottawa Art Gallery Project Impresses

On April 28, 2018, the Ottawa Art Gallery unveils its brand-new bright and airy space as part of an innovative partnership with Le Germain Hotels, the University of Ottawa Theatre program, and ArtHaus condominiums (the first project of its kind in Canada). Admission to the gallery and to the special exhibits is entirely free.

The OAG’s galleries, new Jackson Café, and other public space cover 55,000 square feet over five floors adjacent to the municipal building known as Arts Court. Their centrepiece is an impressive collection of works by the Group of Seven and many other important Canadian artists, known as the Firestone Collection.

The inaugural exhibition, Anishnābemowin – We’ll all become stories (until September 16, 2018) explores 6,500 years of history and art in Canada’s capital region through more than 190 historical and contemporary works of art from different mediums including paintings, drawings, prints, films, performances.

Meanwhile, the upscale Le Germain Ottawa boutique hotel opens May 17, 2018. Drawing inspiration from its gallery neighbours, the hotel promises each room to be a unique work of art with chic design elements complemented with artwork by Canadian photographer Julie Couture.

Museum Round-Up

Museum Round-Up

Don’t miss the best museum offerings in town!

  • Say hello to spring at the Canadian Museum of Nature through contemporary botanical art at Art of the Plant (May 10-October 14, 2018), and discover the workings of your own brain at Brain: The Inside Story (May 18-September 3, 2018).
  • At the Canadian War Museum, discover a dark chapter from Canada’s past at the exhibition St. Louis – Ship of Fate when more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution boarded this German ocean liner (March 21-April 29, 2018).
  • Head to the National Gallery of Canada to see some of the best French and Danish impressionist paintings at the travelling exhibition Impressionist Treasures: The Ordrupgaard Collection (May 18, September 9, 2018) while the Ordrupgaard undergoes renovations in Copenhagen.
  • At the Canadian Museum of History, learn about the disappearance of two ships under the command of Sir John Franklin at the exhibition Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition (until September 30, 2018) and see thought-provoking drawings by Inuit people of Nunavut at the exhibition Picturing Arctic Modernity―North Baffin Drawings from 1964 (until September 3, 2018).
  • Immerse yourself in the world of e-money at the Bank of Canada Museum’s Decoding E-Money exhibition (until May 6, 2018).
  • Find out how Ottawa has evolved from Confederation to present at the Bytown Museum’s exhibition Through the Eyes of Community: 150 Years of Ottawa’s History (April 13-December 23, 2018).
  • At the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the exhibition Space to Spoon introduces the connection between space technology and the food on our plates (until April 30, 2019).
  • At the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, learn about what lies beyond Earth’s atmosphere at Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration (May 4-September 4, 2018)
Indigenous Ottawa

Indigenous Ottawa

  • New! Aboriginal Experiences, located on Victoria Island in the Ottawa River between downtown Ottawa and downtown Gatineau, reopens to the public between July and October 2018 after operating for several years as a group-only attraction. Learn about Indigenous cultures from across North America, enjoy dance performances, eat traditional foods, and make crafts, among other engaging and authentic experiences.
  • Indigenous Walks: Explore downtown Ottawa’s monuments, landscape, architecture, and art through a contemporary Indigenous perspective.
  • Canadian and Indigenous Galleries at the National Gallery of Canada: Learn the story of Canada through Indigenous and non-Indigenous art presented side by side and chronologically in these transformed, integrated galleries which made their debut in 2017.
  • Get insight into the perspective, artwork, and culture of the Inuit and other Indigenous people at the Canadian Museum of Nature’s new permanent Arctic Gallery, opened in 2017 and developed in consultation with the Inuit, who have woven their unique perspectives throughout the gallery.
  • Launched in July 2017, the Canadian History Hall at the Canadian Museum of History presents 15,000 years of Canadian history with Indigenous history incorporated throughout. Head to the museum’s Grand Hall for the largest indoor collection of totem poles in the world, and look up for Morning Star, an impressive ceiling painting by one of Canada’s great Indigenous artists, Alex Janvier.
  • Head to Vincent Massey Park for the annual Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival (June 21-24, 2018) for free concerts, celebrations, and activities as part of National Indigenous History Month with an incredible Pow Wow at the heart of the celebrations.
  • New! Indigenous Centre: The building that once housed the United States Embassy, located directly facing the Parliament of Canada, is being redeveloped over the next few years in the spirit of reconciliation as a space honouring Inuit, Métis, and First Nations communities across Canada.
Ottawa Race Weekend

Ottawa Race Weekend

Close to 50,000 runners plan to participate in the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend May 26-27, 2018. This is the largest multi-distance race event in Canada; the largest marathon in Canada (Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon); and is the only North American running event to host two IAAF-sanctioned Gold label events (the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon and the Ottawa 10K). A half-marathon, 5K, and kids’ 2K also take place.

Quick Bites of Ottawa's Food and Drink Scene

Quick Bites of Ottawa's Food and Drink Scene

  • New! Artist in Residence Distillerie, the Outaouais region’s first micro-distillery, produces vodkalight (25% fewer calories than regular vodka) and, soon, other products with a corn base.
  • Chef Michael Blackie of NeXT restaurant in the west-end suburb of Kanata hosts monthly 3 Chefs, 1 Dinner nights featuring guest chefs from across Canada and the U.S. including Lynn Crawford, Spencer Gomez, and Ed Cotton.
  • New! Acclaimed chef John Leung heads up Jackson Café within the new Ottawa Art Gallery
  • In January 2018, ranked Halcyon Barrel House #4 of the top 10 new breweries in the world. There were more than 6,400 new worldwide brewers who registered since June 1, 2016.
  • New! Hip Southern-U.S. resto Union Local 613 has been busy creating a new space called Jabberwocky to be located on the second floor of their current location (which also features a secret speakeasy in the basement).
  • BeaverTails, those scrumptious pastry treats that were born in Ottawa, are celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2018!
  • New! A dinner series called Soirée features tables of four under clear garden domes popping up along the Rideau Canal between April 29 and May 28, 2018.
  • New! In 2017, the outdoor terrace in Major’s Hill Park known as Tavern on the Hill took Instagram by storm with its stellar views of national landmarks… in 2018, a sister restaurant called Tavern on the Falls promises to do the same on Sussex Drive where the Rideau River empties into the Ottawa River.
  • Cocktail lovers must check out Charlotte, a mid-century-modern-meets-tiki-lounge on Elgin Street above Pure Kitchen, one of Ottawa’s great vegetarian (mostly vegan) restaurants. Even the washrooms are Instagram-worthy!
  • New! Wellington West welcomed a new casual hangout called The Third this past winter. Comfort food and drink at a fair price is to be found in this true neighbourhood gem.
  • New! Stofa Restaurant opened its doors back in October in Wellington West and hasn’t looked back! Fine dining at its best.
  • New! Preston Street (Little Italy) welcomes Mati, sharing the art of crudo and charcoal in an inviting setting!
  • New! Beloved and delicious Holland’s Cake and Shake in Wellington West becomes the fourth Morning Owl Coffeehouse in spring 2018 and Michael Holland becomes the Coffeehouse’s new pastry chef!
  • New! The Fairmont Château Laurier has given Zoé’s a makeover. The airy, modern space hosts daily afternoon tea and is one of the best cocktail lounges in town!
  • New! Craft beer lovers will flip over Bar Lupulus in the vibrant Wellington West neighbourhood, with its well-curated, Ontario-centric beer list and envelope-pushing food menu.
  • New! Flora Hall Brewing opened its craft brewery, scratch kitchen, tap room, and beer shop in a beautifully restored heritage building in downtown Ottawa in late fall 2017.
Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Award

Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Award

Congratulations to Nathalie Katinakis and Margo Pfeiff who have been named co-winners of the Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Award for 2017!

Nathalie won for À la découverte du ByWard Market d’Ottawa : un marché qui est aussi un quartier, which appeared on her blog, Une Porte sur deux continents, in November 2017; and Margo won for Ottawa, Canada’s center of government, is Cool with a capital C, which appeared in the L.A. Times in May 2017. Each winner receives a $500 CAD prize.

Honourable mention went to Barbara Balfour for her piece, Craving Ice Cream? Here’s 4 Ottawa Hot Spots to Cool Down at This Summer, which appeared on Marriott Traveler in June 2017.

The Party Doesn't End in Ottawa in 2018

The Party Doesn't End in Ottawa in 2018

While 2017 will go down in history as a fantastic year, don’t think that the party has stopped! Beyond the impressive list of legacy projects like the new 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:

  • New Parliament tours: As of September 2018, the Parliament of Canada’s Centre Block will close to the public as the building undergoes a decade-long rehabilitation. Once Centre Block closes, guided tours of Parliament will be offered at two new sites: West Block, the interim home of the House of Commons, and the Government Conference Centre, the interim home of the Senate.
  • Le Boat makes its North American debut on Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal, between May and October 2018. These luxury self-drive boats are based halfway along the 202km (126-mile) Rideau Canal and offer two-, three- or four-cabin options. From Kingston to downtown Ottawa and passing by quintessentialrural Ontario towns, visitors will be able to explore the entirety of the Rideau Canal at their own pace.
  • 2018 is the Canada-China Year of Tourism, and since Ottawa is a sister city of Beijing, we intend to celebrate!
  • 25th anniversary of the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival (June 21-24, 2018): Recognized as North America’s largest dragon boat festival, the four-day celebration offers free admission to multiple stages with great entertainment, a variety of artisans, delicious culinary treats, children’s area, and non-stop racing.
  • The Royal Canadian Geographical Society opens Canada’s Centre for Geography and Exploration at 50 Sussex Drive, adjacent to the beautiful Rideau Falls (where the Rideau River empties into the Ottawa River), in spring 2018! This permanent interpretive geography centre includes a 210-seat auditorium, spaces for teachers and students, as well as the editorial offices of Canadian Geographic magazine.
  • For the first time in more than 100 years, Chaudière Falls, a set of waterfalls located on the Ottawa River (north of the Canadian War Museum) opened to the public in fall 2017, as part of Ottawa 2017’s tribute to local Indigenous people, Mìwàte: Illumination of the Chaudière Falls, a free light show above the falls. Building on the legacy of that event, EnergyOttawa plans to open the site again in spring 2018, making it accessible to the public and connected to the region’s extensive recreational pathway system.
  • Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit System: Ottawa’s largest infrastructure project since the building of the Rideau Canal, the Light Rail Transit System’s Confederation Line opens in November 2018 connecting 13 stations (including 3 underground in the downtown core)!