Ottawa Tourism

What’s Up in Ottawa – Summer 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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Green Thumb Alert!

Green Thumb Alert!

Giant sculptures made of plants and flowers fill Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau, just a 10-minute walk across the bridge from downtown Ottawa. From the serene Mother Earth to the impressive Tree of Birds featuring endangered birds from around the world, there are beautiful photo opportunities all around Mosaïculture Gatineau 2018!

These magnificent pieces of art will be on display until October 15, 2018. Admission is $20 per adult.

Meanwhile, the Ottawa Garden Promenade offers a weekly two-hour Garden Tour at 9:00am on Saturdays until September 1, 2018 and the magnificent rose garden at Rideau Hall is always worth a visit!

Rock Out in Ottawa this Summer!

Rock Out in Ottawa this Summer!

Check out the great festivals happening in and around Ottawa this summer:

The RBC Bluesfest (July 5–15) kicks off the fun. Don’t let the name fool you—from the Foo Fighters to Shawn Mendes, from Bryan Adams to Zed’s Dead, Rise Against, 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 4–18), an exploration of classical music with live performances at eclectic venues across Ottawa.

The world-renowned Ottawa Chamberfest (July 26–August 9) hosts many of its concerts in churches. This year, enjoy performances by Angela Hewitt, Marc-André Hamelin with Quatuor Danel, the Ariel Quartet with Rolston String Quartet, and many more!

The Ottawa Busker Festival on Sparks Street takes place August 2-6. Unorthodox entertainment by street performers from around the world includes comics, jugglers, acrobats and stunts. Free admission but donations appreciated.

The annual Capital Pride Festival takes place August 20-26 and features many community events and the popular parade on the final day.

The Arboretum Festival returns this year under a new name… Bon-Fire (August 17–18). This two-day celebration of creativity marries great indie music with delicious food, held in rural Ottawa at Rideau Pines Farm.

Celebrating its 15th edition this year, the House of PainT festival of urban arts and culture (August 23-26) brings together hip hop artists of every description—graffiti, breakdancers, DJs, and MCs—together for an awesome spectacle.

The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival (August 30- September 3) fills the sky with colourful balloons, while a number of exciting performances take place as well.

The CityFolk festival takes place at Lansdowne September 12–16. This year’s lineup includes David Byrne, Hozier, Belle and Sebastian, and more.

The Ottawa International Animation Festival presents screenings of cutting-edge and thoughtful animation films (September 26–30).

What's Shaking in Ottawa's museums

What's Shaking in Ottawa's museums

Don’t miss the best museum offerings in town!

  • Learn about the powerful monarchs and chivalric knights, devout religious leaders, and talented craftsmen at Canadian Museum of History’s Medieval Europe – Power and Splendour exhibition (until January 20, 2019) and while there find out about the disappearance of two ships in the Arctic under the command of Sir John Franklin at the exhibition Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition (until September 30, 2018).
  • At the Canadian Museum of Nature, discover the workings of your own brain at Brain: The Inside Story (until September 3, 2018) and celebrate women in science at the exhibition Courage and Passion: Canadian Women in Natural Sciences (July 28, 2018-March 31, 2019)
  • 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 (until September 9, 2018) and get a glimpse into the world of Venetian portraiture at the exhibition Masters of Venetian Portraiture: Veronese, Tiepolo, Vittoria (until September 18, 2018).
  • Head to the Canada Science and Technology Museum for the world’s largest display of LEGO art at The Art of the Brick (until September 3, 2018).
  • Visit the newly inaugurated (and free admission) Ottawa Art Gallery and learn about 6,500 years of history and art in Canada’s capital region with the exhibition Àdisòkàmagan – We’ll all become stories (until September 16, 2018).
  • At the Canadian War Museum, learn all about the many facets of Armour (until September 3, 2018)
  • Find out how Ottawa has evolved from Confederation to the present at the Bytown Museum’s exhibition Through the Eyes of Community: 150 Years of Ottawa’s History (until 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).
  • Discover the art of medal sculpting at the Bank of Canada Museum’s International Art Medal Federation 35th Congress Exhibition (until November 25, 2018).
  • At the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, learn about humanity’s next steps into our solar system and beyond at the exhibition Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration (until September 3, 2018).
Quick Bites in Ottawa's Food and Drink Scene!

Quick Bites in Ottawa's Food and Drink Scene!

  • New! Acclaimed chef John Leung heads up Jackson Café within the new Ottawa Art Gallery. Named after A.Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven, it joins the NEW! 7 Tapas Bar at the National Gallery of Canada, which recently opened in the museum’s Great Hall with spectacular views.
  • New! Love French bakeries? Two new options opened recently: Mamie Clafoutis in Westboro and Les Moulins La Fayette in Wellington West.
  • New! The Good Food Tour, which launched its culinary walking tours of Almonte in 2017, expanded to Carleton Place in May 2018. Take a tasty tour of these rural towns to the west of Ottawa: Almonte on Fridays and Sundays, and Carleton Place on Thursdays and Saturdays.
  • BeaverTails, those scrumptious pastry treats that were born in Ottawa, celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2018!
  • New! Explore the world’s favourite street food options at Bandito’s in the Glebe neighbourhood.
  • 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 is doing 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! 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! Talented caterers and take-home meal providers Thyme & Again have opened a second larger location in Ottawa’s west end. Great spot to get all the fixings for a picnic!
  • New! Western Canada chain Browns Socialhouse opens its first Ottawa location at 160 Elgin Street in summer 2018.
  • Ottawa’s only Burmese restaurant (and one of only two across Canada), Rangoon, has relocated to Chinatown (Somerset Street West).
The Party Doesn't End in Ottawa in 2018

The Party Doesn't End in Ottawa in 2018

While 2017 has gone 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 January 2019, 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 quintessential rural Ontario towns, visitors are able to explore the entirety of the Rideau Canal at their own pace.
  • Popular bike rental and touring company RentABike welcomed its 200,000th student visitor in June 2018. Student groups and individual travellers alike enjoy the quality bicycles, friendly staff, and well-thought-out routes recommended by this Ottawa mainstay.
  • Au feel de l’eau operates an electric water taxi and in 2018 introduces a new stop, at Richmond Landing on the south shore of the Ottawa River, a short walk from the Canadian War Museum. This joins the stops at the Ottawa Locks / Bytown Museum farther east and the Canadian Museum of History on the north shore.
  • Calypso, Canada’s largest theme waterpark and just a 30-minute drive east of downtown Ottawa, introduced this summer a huge new FREE (for kids under one metre tall) splash/play area for toddlers called Funtana.
  • 2018 is the Canada-China Year of Tourism, and since Ottawa is a sister city of Beijing, we are celebrating!
  • The Royal Canadian Geographical Society opened 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.
  • On April 28, 2018, the Ottawa Art Gallery unveiled its bright and airy space as part of an innovative partnership with a brand new Le Germain Ottawa boutique hotel, 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.
  • 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), is open to the public. In spring 2018, EnergyOttawa connected the site 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)!