Ottawa Tourism

What’s Up in Ottawa – Summer 2016

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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A Festive Summer in #MyOttawa

A Festive Summer in #MyOttawa

While Canada Day (July 1) is the biggest one-day party in Ottawa—complete with concerts, great food and spectacular fireworks—it also marks a day of free programming for the venerable TD Ottawa Jazz Festival (June 22–July 3). 

The RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest (July 7–17) continues the fun. Don’t let the name fool you—from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Brad Paisley, from Duran Duran to City and Colour, the Lumineers 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 along the Rideau Canal, an evening with Christopher Plummer, and a Chinese circus troupe on the menu.

The world-renowned Ottawa Chamberfest (July 21–August 3) hosts many of its concerts in churches. This year, enjoy the Gryphon Trio, Janina Fialkowska’s birthday tour, 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 21-23). This year marks their 20th edition!

The Ottawa Busker Festival on Sparks Street celebrates its 25th anniversary July 28–August 1, 2016. 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 15-21, with the popular parade on the final day. Other programming details are not yet confirmed.

The Arboretum Festival (August 17–20), now in its fifth year, marries great indie music with delicious food outside Ottawa City Hall and in a series of hip venues.

The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival 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 15–18. This year’s lineup includes Vance Joy, Dropkick Murphys, Dean Brody, and more.

The Ottawa International Animation Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary September 21–25, 2016.

Ottawa Leads Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebrations in 2017

Ottawa Leads Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebrations in 2017

From Red Bull Crashed Ice to a free underground multimedia extravaganza; from a July 2 picnic on an interprovincial bridge to giant fire-breathing roving mechanical beasts and a tribute to the Stanley Cup, the list of events in Ottawa to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017 has now expanded so much, I can’t fit it all in What’s Up! To download a handy brochure listing the blockbuster cultural and sporting events, openings and legacy projects, visit www.ottawatourism.ca/ottawa-in-2017

This document is kept up-to-date as announcements are made.

What’s Shakin’ in Ottawa’s Museums?

What’s Shakin’ in Ottawa’s Museums?

Calling all Trekkies, the Canada Aviation & Space Museum is the first stop on the multi-city North American tour of the world premiere exhibition, The Starfleet Academy Experience! Until September 5, 2016, get an immersive experience explaining the science behind the science fiction: tricorders, warp drive theory, phasers and teleporters.

Meet a new breed of beast at the Canadian Museum of Nature with Ultimate Dinosaurs. Until September 5, 2016, encounter Giganotosaurus and other awe-inspiring dinosaurs of the southern hemisphere.

Follow the lives of nine people who experienced the First World War through aviation with Air War, 1914–1918 through January 29, 2017 at the Canadian War Museum. Similarly, Newfoundland and Labrador during the First World War draws on a dozen dramatic first-hand stories and reveals the war’s impact on the people and the community (until January 1, 2017).

The Bytown Museum highlights the 100th anniversary of the fire that destroyed the original Parliament Buildings with Forged in Fire: The Buildings and Burning of Parliament, on until October 31, 2016.

The Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755–1842) exhibition (until September 11, 2016) at the National Gallery of Canada turns the spotlight on Mme. Le Brun, regarded as one of the most important female painters of her time.

The Canadian Museum of History showcases 18 handcrafted, horse-drawn sleighs and carriages with Horse Power! The Paul-Bienvenu Carriage Collection until April 17, 2017, and delves into the glory days of gold’s discovery in British Columbia’s Fraser Canyon and tens of thousands of fortune-seekers with Gold Rush! – El Dorado in British Columbia (until January 15, 2017).

Prime Ministers’ Row Rambles Through Sandy Hill

Prime Ministers’ Row Rambles Through Sandy Hill

A group in Ottawa’s Sandy Hill neighbourhood is developing a “street museum” named Prime Ministers’ Row. Its focus is Laurier Avenue East and the surrounding neighbourhood, where several Fathers of Confederation, Prime Ministers, and other notable Canadians have lived. One key attraction—Laurier House, a National Historic Site—was actually home to two Prime Ministers: Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King. The house will celebrate the 175th anniversary of Laurier’s birth throughout 2016 (his birthday is November 20).

New Offerings in 2016 Throughout the Region

New Offerings in 2016 Throughout the Region

New! OWL Rafting now offers a shuttle service to some of the best whitewater rafting in the world, just 90 minutes’ drive west of downtown Ottawa. Departing from the Lord Elgin hotel in downtown Ottawa (and stopping as well at the Holiday Inn and Suites Kanata) each Wednesday and Thursday between July 6 and August 31, 2016, the cost is $40 plus HST per person for the return trip. Reservations required. 

New! Parks Canada unveiled two new access points to launch personal canoes and kayaks in the Rideau Canal in spring 2016. Rentals for visitors are available at Dows Lake and at Fifth Avenue.

New! The TV show Giver, on the Ontario-based TVO network, is filming 13 episodes in Ottawa in summer 2016, depicting children from every province and territory in Canada helping to build Canada’s largest playground at Mooney’s Bay Park! The playground will launch to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.

New! Trading on U.S. election fatigue, Air Canada launched a jaunty series of ads inviting Americans who Googled “how to move to Canada” to Test-Drive Canada. Personalized videos were shared via Twitter inviting users to visit Ottawa among other easily accessible locations.

New! The world’s largest escape room experience opened in spring 2016 at the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum, a four-storey underground bunker built between 1959 and 1961 a half-hour drive west of Ottawa to protect Canada’s political and military elite in case of a nuclear attack. A partnership with local company Escape Manor (which runs two other escape room locations downtown), Escape the Diefenbunker locks teams of up to 12 players inside the museum after it closes for the day. They’re given an hour to solve a series of espionage-themed clues that will take them through 25,000 square feet (one full floor) of the bunker—the fate of the world is in their hands! 

New! Up to eight passengers at a time can embark on an airboat excursion with Bayou Outaouais and explore the richness and diversity of a wildlife reserve just minutes from downtown Ottawa.

New! This summer, a new environmentally-friendly 99-passenger electric boat offers guided cruises of the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rideau Canal Cruises will launch a second boat in 2017. Their sister company, World Famous Paul’s Boat Line, offers guided cruises on the Ottawa River.

Quick Bites of Ottawa’s Culinary Scene

Quick Bites of Ottawa’s Culinary Scene

  • Savour Ottawa Summer Tables will put the spotlight on locally grown and raised food from Savour Ottawa farmers in local restaurants between August 12 and 21, 2016.
  • New! Sutherland, owned by Chef Warren Sutherland of SmoQue Shack and Piggy Market fame, opens in summer 2016 in the New Edinburgh neighbourhood.
  • New! Three new breweries have recently opened in the region: Dog & Pony Brewlab literally operates out of the kitchen at Union Local 613 while Etienne Brûlé operates in Embrun, a small town in Prescott-Russell, east of Ottawa. Brown Van Brewing is a husband-and-wife operation brewing under contract at Kichesippi Brewing Co.
  • New! A taste of Mexico invaded the hip Wellington West neighbourhood when the second location of colourful Ola Cocina opened its doors in spring 2016.
  • New! An upscale yet casual Lebanese restaurant called Fairouz opened in spring 2016 in downtown Ottawa. Chef Walid El-Tawel, formerly the head chef at Restaurant e18hteen, is in the kitchen.
  • New! In Perth (about an hour’s drive southwest of Ottawa), Top Shelf Distillers is now offering gin, vodka, whisky and “moonshine.”
  • New! The Toronto-based Culinary Adventure Company has expanded into Ottawa in 2016. Meanwhile, culinary walking tours of various Ottawa neighbourhoods with C’est Bon Cooking continue under new ownership in 2016.
  • New! Jon Svazas, the owner of the acclaimed Fauna restaurant on Bank Street in downtown Ottawa, will open a Spanish- and Mediterranean-themed restaurant named Bar Laurel in summer 2016 in the former location of Back Lane Café in the Wellington West neighbourhood.
  • New! In the ByWard Market neighbourhood, a former Catholic church—repurposed into an Irish cultural centre and special events venue—now boasts a bar in the basement! Brigid’s Well burns a blue light outside its massive wood doors to indicate it’s open.
  • New! Two great new additions are coming to downtown Elgin Street in summer 2016: The Whalesbone Oyster House opens a larger space (the original on Bank Street is tiny!), and Westboro neighbourhood stalwart Pure Kitchen restaurant takes over the former location of Maxwell’s.
  • New! As if chef/owner Matthew Carmichael’s El Camino taco joint and Elgin Street neighbour, Asian-themed Datsun, weren’t busy enough, he’s now planning a third location in spring 2016, called Riviera, on Sparks Street in a beautiful Art Deco former bank building.
  • New! Coffee shop by day, performance venue with classic and modern libations at night, Bar Robo is a hit in Chinatown.
  • New! Hit the (virtual) links at Mulligans Golf Bar on Queen Street in downtown Ottawa. Even Justin Bieber played a round when he was in town this past spring!
Travel Writing Award Winner

Travel Writing Award Winner

Congratulations to James Ross, the winner of the 2015 Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Award, complete with $500 prize. His story, Get Away to Spooky Fun at Ottawa’s Escape Manor, appeared on TravelWritersTales.com as well as in three B.C. weekly newspapers: Kamloops This Week; The Delta Optimist; The Vernon Morning Star in October 2015.

Congratulations James and a heartfelt congratulations to all the journalists we deal with. Thank you for your passion, your creativity and your efforts to spread the word about Ottawa and Canada’s capital region. The deadline for the 2016 contest is Friday, February 3, 2017.

Details: www.ottawatourism.ca/media/travel-writing-award

One Young World – A Canadian First in Ottawa!

One Young World – A Canadian First in Ottawa!

A global forum for young leaders from over 190 countries called One Young World takes place at Ottawa’s Shaw Centre September 28–October 1, 2016. This annual summit allows delegates aged 18 to 30 to network with peers, share ideas and develop solutions to address urgent global issues. Prominent counsellors include Kofi Annan, Mohamed Younis and others!

Newsworthy Ottawa Hotels, New and Old

Newsworthy Ottawa Hotels, New and Old

  • New! The Alt Hotel Ottawa, the Canadian chain’s first in Ottawa, opened on Slater Street downtown in May 2016. Featuring a set price all year long, the “no frills chic” brand is very appealing.
  • New! Meanwhile, the Hyatt brand Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market plans to open on Dalhousie Street in late August. Its rooftop lounge will be especially enticing, as will its restaurant, helmed by Chef Stephen LaSalle.
  • New! The Westin Ottawa, in partnership with Ottawa Dog Rescue, is fostering abandoned, abused, or neglected dogs as part of the Westin Wags Foster Program. One dog at a time calls the Westin’s lobby home and enjoys lots of attention from staff and guests (including daily walks) until it gets adopted. Several dogs have found new homes since the program started in November 2015!
  • New! A $100 million redevelopment of Arts Court set to open in late 2017 will include a 21-storey mixed-use tower (including Le Germain hotel and condominiums), a 250-seat multi-purpose and film-screening room, a 120-seat theatre and more!
  • New! The Lord Elgin hotel celebrates its 75th anniversary throughout 2016. Built in less than a year during World War II and opened in July 1941, the hotel has a fascinating history.
  • In January 2016, the Chimo Ottawa Hotel – located just east of downtown Ottawa – was rebranded to Holiday Inn Ottawa East Hotel following major renovations.
  • New! In February 2016, the TownePlace Suites by Marriott (an extended stay hotel) opened in Kanata, a suburb west of downtown Ottawa.
  • Also in Kanata, the former Country Inn & Suites was rebranded to the Fairfield Inn & Suites Ottawa Kanata in November 2015.
  • The Best Western Plus Victoria Park Suites has changed its name to Best Western Plus Ottawa Downtown Suites. The hotel is located near the Canadian Museum of Nature.