Ottawa Tourism

What’s Up in Ottawa – Fall 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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One Young World – a Canadian first in Ottawa!

One Young World – a Canadian first in Ottawa!

A prestigious gathering of 18- to 30-year-old international leaders

A global forum for young leaders from 196 countries, 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, Professor Mohamed Younis, Cher and others!

Ottawa leads Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations in 2017

Ottawa leads Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations in 2017

The list is too long to share here!

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! You can download a handy brochure listing the blockbuster cultural and sporting events, openings and legacy projects. This document is kept up-to-date as announcements are made.

Here’s a timely update for gardeners, though! You can help celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday by planting a specially designed Canada 150 tulip! Available at Home Hardware stores across Canada, these red-and-white tulips will give your garden a touch of celebration next spring. More than 250,000 will be planted in Ottawa’s parks and gardens by the National Capital Commission, to bloom in time for the Canadian Tulip Festival, May 12-22, 2017!

What’s shakin’ in Ottawa’s museums?

What’s shakin’ in Ottawa’s museums?

Looking for a little culture this season in Canada’s capital?

The Canadian Museum of History delves into the glory days of gold’s discovery in British Columbia’s Fraser Canyon with Gold Rush! – El Dorado in British Columbia (until January 15, 2017) and also explores the economic impact of a gold boom in Mining the Miners – Klondike Gold: It Wasn’t All Mined with Picks and Shovels (until December 31, 2017).

Here, you can also learn about everyday life in Paris with Napoléon Bonaparte in Napoleon and Paris (until January 8, 2017) and see 18 handcrafted, horse-drawn carriages and sleighs in Horse Power – The Paul Bienvenu Carriage Collection (until April 17, 2017).

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

Running from November 25, 2016 to April 17, 2017, you can see Alex Janvier at the National Gallery of Canada. This special exhibit celebrates a lifetime of creativity, displaying more than 150 remarkable paintings and drawings, as well as other pieces that have never been on public display. Janvier’s works reference Indigenous history and culture, as well as explore Janvier’s experience in residential schools and the effects of colonization.

Interested in reptiles? See live reptiles from around the world at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Reptiles, running from October 7, 2016 to April 8, 2017. This exhibit will let you get up close to deadly snakes, colourful lizards and more.

Until October 31, 2016, see Forged in Fire: The Building and Burning of Parliament at the Bytown Museum. In 2016, the Bytown highlights the 100th anniversary of the fire that destroyed the original Parliament Buildings. Catch this one before it ends!

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.

Oktoberfests, Halloween and other fall treats in Ottawa

Oktoberfests, 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 October 1-12—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.

Of course, autumn also brings Oktoberfests and Beau’s Oktoberfest (September 23-24, 2016) is not to be missed! Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company is the proud—and environmentally friendly—host. Great bands, food from some of the region’s best restaurants and fun games round out the offering; shuttle buses available from Ottawa, Montréal and Cornwall.

Meanwhile, Oktoberfest Ottawa runs September 30-October 1, 2016 in the Barrhaven neighbourhood, just southwest of downtown, featuring a huge beer tent (340 feet long) and live entertainment.

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 24 – October 31, 2016; 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 hedge 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 October 7 and 31 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 29, 30 and November 5.

Quick bites of Ottawa’s culinary scene

Quick bites of Ottawa’s culinary scene

Tempt your palate with some of these delicious offerings!

  • New! Sutherland, owned by Chef Warren Sutherland of SmoQue Shack and Piggy Market fame, opens in autumn 2016 in the New Edinburgh neighbourhood.
  • Looking for a great Ottawa-area craft beer? Some of your best choices include the lists at Black Tomato and Brothers Beer Bistro in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. In the Glebe neighbourhood, check out CRAFT Beer Market and the Arrow and Loon. In Wellington West, visit the Beyond the Pale brewery or Tooth and Nail brewpub.
  • Beloved Ottawa restaurant Murray Street Kitchen/Wine/Charcuterie has announced that it will close as of December 31, 2016. A leader in the farm-to-table movement in Ottawa, we’re told to expect more soon from co-owner Chef Steve Mitton.
  • 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! Two Ottawa restaurants appeared on the “long list” leading to enRoute magazine’s prestigious Top 10 New Restaurants Across Canada list: Datsun (Asian-influenced food in a fun setting on Elgin Street) and Fairouz (upscale Mediterranean on Somerset Street West).
  • New! Eat your way through Ottawa’s best neighbourhoods with Experience Food and Ottawa Tasting Tours. These two recent additions to Ottawa’s culinary scene take visitors and locals alike to some of the best restaurants in town, on foot and in style!
  • New! Jon Svazas, the owner of the acclaimed Fauna restaurant on Bank Street in downtown Ottawa, opened 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! Two great new additions came to downtown Elgin Street in summer 2016: The Whalesbone Oyster House opened a new larger space (the original on Bank Street is tiny!), and Westboro neighbourhood stalwart Pure Kitchen restaurant brought its fun, funky vegetarian dishes to the street.
  • 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 opened a third location, called Riviera, on Sparks Street in a strikingly beautiful Art Deco former bank building.
National War Memorial restored

National War Memorial restored

Site of annual Remembrance Day ceremony

The striking National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa underwent restoration throughout the spring and summer of 2016 but will be back to its full glory in time for the annual November 11 Remembrance Day ceremony.

Also on the site is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, containing the remains of an unknown Canadian soldier who died in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge in France in April 1917.

Newsworthy Ottawa hotels, new and old

Newsworthy Ottawa hotels, new and old

Rest your head at one of these chic establishments!

  • New! The Hyatt brand Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market plans to 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 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.
Christmas cheer in Canada’s capital

Christmas cheer in Canada’s capital

Festive delights everywhere you look!

There are several ways to celebrate the holidays in the Ottawa region. Enjoy the Christmas trees, garlands and decorations on sale at the ByWard Market and Parkdale Market every day. Other great foodie options for your Christmas dinner are available at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market (on Sundays inside the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park).

The Christmas Lights Across Canada program runs December 1, 2016 through January 7, 2017, as hundreds of thousands of colourful lights decorate downtown Ottawa and Gatineau. Launched last season, an animated multimedia show is projected on the Parliament Buildings on a 13-minute loop between 5:30 and 11:00pm (December 7-25, 2016 only).

About an hour’s drive south of downtown Ottawa, Upper Canada Village presents Alight at Night December 2-31, 2016, with about a million lights decorating this heritage village’s streets and buildings.

Fans of huge Christmas trees will want to check out the gorgeous specimen inside the Great Hall of the National Gallery of Canada, decorated with over 10,000 environmentally friendly LED lights and 450 ornaments. Lovers of dance, on the other hand, must attend the Alberta Ballet’s version of the Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre (November 30-December 4, 2016).

December is also a great time to warm up your ice skating muscles, on the refrigerated SENS Rink of Dreams outside Ottawa City Hall and the Skating Court at Lansdowne Park. Typically, the Rideau Canal Skateway—the world’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink—opens for the season in early January, though it is purely up to Mother Nature to provide the 30cm (1-foot) thickness of ice required before skating can begin.