Ottawa Tourism

What’s Up in Ottawa – Winter 2017-18

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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Frosty Fun for Everyone!

Frosty Fun for Everyone!

Discover winter’s joys in Canada’s capital

Enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to skate on Parliament Hill, celebrate the 40th edition of Winterlude, and more this winter!

  • New! Parliament Hill is now home to the Canada 150 skating rink, open daily until February 25, 2018 with the breathtaking backdrop of Canada’s Parliament buildings! Free daily tickets are available online, or you can simply watch skaters glide around the ice. Bring your camera!
  • The 40th edition of the popular winter festival Winterlude runs February 2-19, 2018, with most activities concentrated on weekends. Official sites include:
    • Confederation Park (aka Crystal Garden) in downtown Ottawa: magnificent ice sculptures and some fun evening DJ events.
    • Gatineau’s Jacques Cartier Park (aka Snowflake Kingdom): a big hit with families (and the young at heart) with snow and ice slides, kids’ entertainment, and an introduction to winter sports. NOTE: The action has moved farther northeast (away from the Alexandra Bridge) to make room for Mosaïvernales (see below).
    • The Rideau Canal Skateway: from bed races to skating clinics to a winter triathlon (ice skating, cross-country skiing, running).
  • The second annual Ice Dragon Boat Festival takes place at Dows Lake on February 10, 2018. Boats glide across the ice, propelled by “paddlers” with special poles.
  • New! Following on the success of MosaïCanada150—a huge outdoor floral sculpture event held in summer 2017 in Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau—this winter sees huge snow and ice sculptures on display between January 27 and March 4, 2018 (weather permitting) in an event called Mosaïvernales.
  • 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). 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 (weather permitting).
  • New! The historic skating rink at Rideau Hall (established in 1872) is not new but it is now refrigerated, extending its season! The home and workplace of Canada’s Governor General offers free public skating each weekend through March 25, 2018.
  • New! The Westin Ottawa introduces the SkateWESTIN program where guests can rent Bauer hockey skates from the front desk and go on guided skates along the Rideau Canal Skateway with the hotel concierge or on their own!
  • 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.
  • The Sir John A. Macdonald Winter Trail is an amazing 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 over 16 km (10 miles) along the Ottawa River running westward from the Canadian War Museum. Great for commuting and recreational use!
Made in Ottawa

Made in Ottawa

Interesting inventions from Canada’s capital

Ottawa has had its fair share of inventions over the years. From Lord Stanley creating the Stanley Cup 125 years ago while he served as Governor General in Ottawa to the “Ottawa Ankle Rules” which guide doctors as to whether x-rays are necessary to confirm a broken ankle, innovation comes naturally here. Some other highlights:

  • BeaverTails, the iconic Canadian hot pastry treat, celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2018. BeaverTails established their first retail location in Ottawa’s vibrant ByWard Market neighbourhood; now these sweet treats are found throughout Canada, and in the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Dubai.
  • David Segal, originally of Ottawa, launched the popular David’s Tea franchise in 2008 and, after leaving that company, has now opened the first two fast-casual salad-forward Mad Radish locations in Ottawa’s downtown and Glebe neighbourhoods.
  • E-commerce movers and shakers Shopify started small in Ottawa, selling snowboards online. Soon they realized that the innovative platform they built to do so was more valuable than the snowboards. The company raised $131 million USD at their May 2015 initial public offering and are a driving force in Ottawa’s high-technology community!
  • Robert Wang, a former Nortel employee in Ottawa, co-designed the enormously popular Instant Pot back in 2010 and since then—through word-of-mouth only—millions have been sold. The appliance combines elements of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and more to prepare quick and healthy meals.
  • Woodworkers and gardeners are likely very familiar with Lee Valley Tools, founded by Leonard Lee in 1978. High-quality craftsmanship and ethical business practices are hallmarks of this firm with 17 locations across Canada.
Museum Round-up

Museum Round-up

What’s shaking in Ottawa’s museums

Don’t miss the best museum offerings.

  • New! The Ottawa Art Gallery is set to open in early 2018, with 50,000+ square feet of exhibition space.
  • New! The renovated Canada Science and Technology Museum opened its doors on November 17, 2017 (50 years after its inauguration). The new museum presents an immersive, interactive, and fun experience featuring completely redesigned exhibits, a demo stage, and more artifacts than ever before. While there, check out Quantum – the Exhibition to find out how quantum mechanics impact the evolution of technology (until April 1, 2018).
  • Looking for a warm-up experience? Take a stroll among hundreds of live butterflies at the Canadian Museum of Nature’s exhibition, Butterflies in Flight (until April 2, 2018).
  • At the National Gallery of Canada, the 4th edition of Canadian Biennial highlights how artists working in Canada and internationally deal with an increasingly globalized world (until March 18, 2018). You can also enjoy James Wilson Morrice. The A. K. Prakash Collection in Trust to the Nation (until March 18, 2018) and Canadian and Indigenous Art: 1968 to Present (until April 30, 2018).
  • Check out DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition Journey from Sketch to Screen at the Canadian Museum of History for insight into the secrets of digital animation (until April 8, 2018). See drawings by Inuit people of Nunavut during a time of social upheaval at the exhibition Picturing Arctic Modernity ― North Baffin Drawings from 1964 (February 18-September 3, 2018).
  • At the Canadian War Museum, She Who Tells a Story – Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World showcases evocative images providing insight into the contemporary social and political landscape of the Middle East (until March 4, 2018).
  • The Bytown Museum extends its 100th anniversary celebration into 2018 with Bytown Museum: 100 Years of Community featuring eclectic works and images from the museum’s primary collections (until February 18, 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).
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! Former Top Chef Canada winner René Rodriguez opened Orto Trattoria on Second Avenue in the Glebe neighbourhood, specializing in southern Italian delicacies.
  • New! Check out Oat Couture Oatmeal Café in the Old Ottawa South neighbourhood, featuring oatmeal bowls, granolas, muesli, coffee, and baked goods.
  • New! Carb Free Café is the restaurant of choice for those on keto or paleo diets. It’s on Dalhousie Street in the ByWard Market neighbourhood.
  • New! Ottawa Magazine toasts 10 Ottawa restaurants that have been thriving for more than 10 years at a gala event on January 24, 2018 at the National Arts Centre.
  • In Gatineau, Buffet des Continents has a fabulous new design and an enhanced menu of more than 150 international dishes… plus seating for up to 750 individuals.
  • New! Preston Street (Little Italy) welcomes Mati, sharing the art of crudo and charcoal in an inviting setting!
  • New! The Fairmont Château Laurier has given Zoe’s a makeover. The airy, modern space hosts daily afternoon tea and is one of the best cocktail lounges in town!
  • 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 tucked-away corner of the Clarendon Courtyard in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. Veggie friendly and great for late-night eats!
  • 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.
  • 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.
Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Award

Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Award

$500 CAD up for grabs!

Was something you wrote about Ottawa or Canada’s capital region published in English or in French in 2017? If so, submit your entry into the Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Award contest for a chance to win $500 CAD.

Include your name, address, e-mail address, and telephone number; as well as the name of the publication and the date the item was published. Entries must have appeared in print or online between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. There is no fee to enter, nor a limit on the number of articles an individual may submit (though each entry must be submitted separately). The submissions must be received by 5:00pm on February 2, 2018.

The Party Doesn't End in 2018

The Party Doesn't End in 2018

Lots on the go in the new year

While 2017 will go down in history as a fantastic year, don’t think that the party stops! 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.
  • In early 2018, the upscale Le Germain Ottawa hotel opens in a mixed-use complex combining condominiums, a theatre, and the completely redone Ottawa Art Gallery, featuring over 50,000 square feet of exhibition space.
  • 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 quintessential rural 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.
  • 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 2018 connecting 13 stations (including 3 underground in the downtown core)!
  • The Royal Canadian Geographical Society will open Canada’s Centre for Geography and Exploration at 50 Sussex Drive, adjacent to the beautiful Rideau Falls (where the Rideau River empties in the Ottawa River), in spring 2018! This permanent interpretive geography centre will include 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.
  • The prestigious Nordik Spa-Nature, North America’s largest (yet still incredibly intimate) spa, will add a 60-room on-site hotel by 2019.
  • Over the next few years, Rideau Carleton Raceway (a horseracing, gaming, and entertainment complex) will become the Hard Rock Ottawa Casino with more than $320 million invested to revitalize this entertainment destination.