Ottawa Tourism

What’s Up in Ottawa – Winter 2016-17

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 has begun!

A year-long celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday began in Ottawa on New Year’s Eve and will continue to the end of December 2017. Download a complete list of all blockbuster cultural and sporting events, openings and legacy projects at This document is kept up-to-date as announcements are made.

New! Be sure to download the Android and iOS app as well:

Some winter / early spring highlights:

  • Jan. 16-22: Canadian Tire National Skating Championships
  • Feb. 3-5: Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first-round tie between Canada and Great Britain (tennis)
  • Various dates: 13 diplomatic missions showcase their countries’ relationship with Canada at an International Pavilion at 50 Sussex Drive (moving to 7 Clarence Street in spring):
    • United States of America (Feb. 1-20)
    • Mongolia (Feb. 22-March 6)
    • Swiss Confederation (March 8-April 10)
    • Kingdom of the Netherlands (April 12-May 1)
  • March 3-4: The Red Bull Crashed Ice world championships feature athletes on skates hurtling down a massive ice track filled with high vertical drops and hairpin turns, all set above the Rideau Canal locks!
  • March 15-18: Stanley Cup 125th anniversary tribute – evening gala at Canadian Museum of History (March 15); the Stanley Cup at Rideau Hall (March 16) and at Aberdeen Pavilion with NHL alumni players (March 17); gala tribute concert at Canadian Tire Centre (March 17); groundbreaking ceremony on Sparks Street at Elgin for the Lord Stanley’s Gift monument (March 18).
  • March 25-26: Canada East Short Track Speed Skating Championships
  • March 27-April 2: The Juno Awards (celebrating the best in the Canadian music industry) showcase music programming throughout the region.
Learn to love winter in Canada’s capital

Learn to love winter in Canada’s capital

Frosty fun for everyone

Winterlude is the crown jewel of winter activities in Ottawa—it’s celebrating its 39th edition this year, after all—but there are plenty of other fun activities to enjoy throughout the season.

Winterlude runs February 3-20 and most activities are concentrated on the weekends. Visit Confederation Park (aka the Crystal Garden) in downtown Ottawa for the magnificent ice sculptures and some fun evening DJ events. Gatineau’s Jacques Cartier Park (aka Snowflake Kingdom) is a big hit with families (and the young at heart): enjoy snow and ice slides, kids’ entertainment and an introduction to winter sports. Each weekend brings new programming, from bed races to craft beer events to a winter triathlon (ice skating, cross-country skiing, running).

New! North America’s first Ice Dragon Boat Festival takes place at Dows Lake February 17-18, 2017. Boats glide across the ice, propelled by 12 “paddlers” with special poles.

Skating along Ottawa’s Rideau Canal Skateway is on many people’s “bucket lists”—not much can compare with sliding along its world-record 7.8km (4.8-mile) surface. The ice must be at least 30cm (1 foot) thick to open and conditions are explained with a colour-coded system (green is best). Check conditions online or follow @NCC_Skateway for info.

The Sens Rink of Dreams, located just outside Ottawa City Hall, and the Skating Court at Lansdowne are two great ice skating options that are not subject to the whims of Mother Nature—they’re refrigerated and offer skating through mid-March.

The historic (established in 1872) skating rink at Rideau Hall, the home and workplace of Canada’s Governor General, offers free public skating each Saturday and Sunday between January 28 and March 26, weather permitting. The annual Winter Celebration (January 28) at Rideau Hall is a free celebration of Canadian and Nordic cultures.

For great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails, head to Gatineau Park (day passes required) and the Greenbelt surrounding Ottawa. There are downhill skiing options in Gatineau Park as well. These are great ways to get out and explore the natural beauty of the area.

New! The Sir John A. Macdonald Winter Trail is an amazing new addition to Ottawa’s active living scene. The trail offers groomed cross-country ski tracks and a place for snowshoeing, walking and fat biking for 16 km (10 miles) along the Ottawa River running westward from the Canadian War Museum. Great for commuting and recreational use!

New! In Ottawa’s west end, Wesley Clover Parks offers cross-country skiing on groomed trails and outdoor skating in a converted horseback riding ring!

Newsworthy Ottawa hotels, new and old

Newsworthy Ottawa hotels, new and old

Rest your head at one of these chic establishments!

New! The Hotel Indigo Ottawa rebrands in mid-February 2017 as the independent The Metcalfe Hotel. A great location (just south of Parliament Hill, close to Confederation Park and the Rideau Canal) and a beautiful atrium are just two selling points of this historic building, original home of Ottawa’s YMCA.

New! The Westin Ottawa is constructing a ballroom on their 22nd floor with spectacular views of Parliament Hill and the Ottawa and Gatineau skylines. No firm word on an opening date but likely mid-2017.

New! The Hyatt brand Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market opened its 200-room hotel on Dalhousie Street in late August 2016. Its rooftop lounge, Copper Spirits and Sights, is especially enticing, with outstanding sunset views of the city, as is its ground-floor restaurant, feast+revel, helmed by Chef Stephen LaSalle.

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! A $100 million redevelopment of Arts Court set to open in early 2018 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!

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 Joe Thottungal, winner of Ottawa’s Gold Medal Plates competition in November 2016. Chef and owner of Coconut Lagoon, which serves delicious dishes from the south Indian state of Kerala, Thottungal is off to British Columbia to compete in the Canadian Culinary Championships February 3-4, 2017.

New! Ottawa brewery Dominion City has announced big changes in 2017: expansion into the space next door, increased production, new packaging and more! Their retro-cool Dominion Day party each July 1 is not to be missed either!

New! Evergreen Craft Ales bills itself as Ottawa’s smallest brewery yet it is collaborating with another newcomer, Small Pony Barrel Works, Ottawa’s first all-sour brewery.

New! Another newcomer to the exploding Ottawa-area craft beer scene is Stray Dog Brewing Company based in Orléans, an east-end suburb. They promise a tap room in 2017.

New! The Feline Café plans to open in early 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. They also plan fun events like cat-yoga and movie nights.

New! Chef Steve Mitton, co-owner of the late and lamented Murray Street Kitchen Wine Charcuterie, has accepted a gig to enhance the meat offerings of The Whalesbone group of restaurants, currently known for their sustainable and delicious fish and seafood.

New! Asian-fusion Makita Kitchen & Bar opened at the north end of the trendy Glebe neighbourhood in late 2016. Japanese for “Due North,” the place offers spring rolls, steamed buns, rice bowls, ramen and deconstructed banh mi, among other dishes.

New! The owners of small-but-mighty Italian-themed town on Elgin Street have launched a second venture around the corner called Citizen! Citizen has a Nordic feel to it with small plates, sandwiches, bar snacks and a killer cocktail list.

New! Canada’s first Starbucks Reserve location opened in November 2016 in Ottawa’s vibrant ByWard Market neighbourhood. The locations sell the highest-end products in the Starbucks line and also serve wine and craft beer after 4:00pm.

The famous “duelling pianos” show that used to be so popular at the ByWard Market bar/restaurant called Fat Tuesdays (now moved to Kanata) has been revived at the Sens House across the street. Each Saturday night, you’ll find this fun show.

Escapes, axes, archery and more

Escapes, axes, archery and more

Creative indoor fun in Ottawa is never far away

Creative options for indoor fun can be found throughout Ottawa. Does the idea of getting locked up in a room and having to solve puzzles to escape appeal to you? Then check out Jigsaw Escape Room in the ByWard Market neighbourhood with three rooms from which to choose.

Escape Manor — which boasts a downtown location and one in Wellington West—also partners with the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum; the Canadian Museum of Nature; and BrewDonkey (a craft beer tour company) to offer entertaining experiences.

Ever tried axe throwing? At the east-end Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL), friendly staff will walk you through the process and before you know it, you’ll be hitting the bullseye!

If bows and arrows are more your thing, try Archery Games in the south end—it’s like dodgeball but with bows and soft foam-tipped arrows. They share space with Room Escape Ottawa, an escape room experience.

At Funhaven in Ottawa’s west end, you can try a little bit of everything: laser tag, simulators, bumper cars and Ottawa’s only indoor roller coaster—the Crazy 8 which opened in December 2016! Great food options are also available, as is Ottawa Escapes, an escape room adventure.

If you want to tempt Lady Luck, be sure to drop by the Casino du Lac-Leamy, just 15 minutes’ drive north of downtown, for full gaming excitement, great dining, inventive cocktails and performances. Meanwhile, just a half-hour drive south of downtown, you’ll find the OLG Slots at Rideau Carleton Raceway with seasonal horse racing and year-round slots and delicious dining.

What’s shakin’ in Ottawa’s museums?

What’s shakin’ in Ottawa’s museums?

Get out of the cold, and get some culture!

The Bytown Museum will celebrate its 100th anniversary with A Century of Community, an exhibition which features objects from the Museum’s primary collection highlighting the history of Ottawa and exploring the museum’s important role in the community. February 3, 2017-February 19, 2018.

At the Canadian Museum of Nature, see live reptiles from around the world as part of the Reptiles exhibition, until April 8, 2017! Or, check out stunning photographs of several different species at the Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year exhibition; check website for details.

At the Canadian War Museum, as Deadly Skies – Air War, 1914-1918 wraps up on January 29, 2017, look for The Fenians – Unintended Fathers of Confederation (January 27-September 4, 2017). This spring, the 100th anniversary of the pivotal Battle of Vimy Ridge is commemorated between April 7, 2017 and January 7, 2018 with Vimy – Beyond the Battle.

The Canadian Museum of History hosts Hockey March 10-October 9, 2017, exploring Canada’s historic love of the sport of hockey, and its impact on Canadian identity. See one-of-a-kind artifacts (including Jacques Plante’s famous hockey mask!), personal memorabilia, and more! Through March 12, 2017, catch “Nice Women Don’t Want the Vote” celebrating the fight for women’s voting rights in Canada.

Don’t miss the major retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada celebrating the work of Alex Janvier, highlighting his unique style, expression of Indigenous culture, and the effects of colonization and the residential school system (through April 17, 2017). Meanwhile, The Advent of Abstraction: Russia, 1914-1923 explores the development of abstraction in Russia (through March 12, 2017).

REVAMPED! Canada’s National Museums Passport

REVAMPED! Canada’s National Museums Passport

3 museums, 3 days, $30

Visitors to Ottawa now have a better way to enjoy its multiple national museums. Canada’s National Museums Passport has been revamped and now offers admission to 3 national museums, over 3 consecutive days, for just $30. Each accompanying child (17 and under) receives a 30% discount on general admission. The passport is available at the six national museums that participate in the program, as well as at the Capital Information Kiosk across from Parliament Hill.