Ottawa Tourism

What’s Up in Ottawa – Summer 2019

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 is the place to be for fun summer festivals! Check out a sample of great events:

The RBC Bluesfest (July 4–14) kicks off the fun with its 25th anniversary year! Don’t let the name fool you—from the Killers to the Backstreet Boys, from Alexisonfire to Eric Church, Jessie Reyez, and lots more, audiences have an real 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 across Ottawa at eclectic venues across Ottawa. Music and Beyond celebrates their 10th anniversary this year.

The world-renowned Ottawa Chamberfest (July 25–August 8) celebrates its 25th anniversary with a wide variety of performances, many of which are hosted in churches. This year, enjoy performances by Janina Fialkowska, the Art of Time Ensemble, Canadian Brass, Angela Hewitt, and many more!  

The Ottawa Busker Festival on Sparks Street takes place August 2-5. 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 18-25 and features many community events and the popular parade on the final day.

Cirque du Soleil brings the stunning, nostalgic story of Alegria to Zibi on Albert Island this summer (August 2-September 1)

The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival (August 29- September 2) 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 12–15. This year’s lineup includes Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, the Strumbellas, Leon Bridges, and more.

The Ottawa International Animation Festival presents screenings of cutting-edge and thoughtful animation films (September 25–29).

More eclectic festivals in and around Ottawa like the Canadian Stone Carving Festival (July 19-21), Glengarry Highland Games (August 2-3), Perth Garlic Festival (August 10-11), Twist Fibre Festival (August 14-18), St-Albert Cheese Curd Festival (August 14-18), Nostalgia Music Festival (August 21-24) and others round out Ottawa’s cool mix of festival offerings.



  • New! The prestigious Canadian Culinary Championships (also known as Canada’s Great Kitchen Party) is coming to Ottawa January 31-February 1, 2020! The country’s best chefs compete regionally, with those winners then spending a whirlwind weekend of black-box competitions, wine-pairings, and amazing food in Ottawa!
  • Throughout 2019, beloved cheesemakers St. Albert Cheese Co-operative celebrate 125 years of making delicious cheese—especially loved are the squeaky cheese curds used in poutine!
  • New! The restaurant known as Le Café, inside the National Arts Centre, will reopen and rebrand itself as 1 Elgin in mid-August 2019. Luckily, the lovely outdoor patio adjacent to the Rideau Canal, remains open during construction.
  • New! Popular Zak’s Diner opens a new location on Elgin Street in September 2019—get your milkshakes and all-day breakfast!
  • New! If you’re in the market for dinner and a show with a Canadian twist, you’ll love Oh Canada Eh? which has operated for 25 years in Niagara Falls and now comes to Ottawa, at the RA Centre just south of downtown, June 28-September 14.
  • New! The food hall concept has arrived in Ottawa with the launch of Queen St. Fare, which opened in early December 2018 on, yes, Queen Street in downtown Ottawa. Choose from Mexican, Vietnamese, pizzas, burgers, and plentiful vegetarian options—not to mention great local craft beer and talented mixologists. The venue—adjacent to a stop along the (coming-in-2019) Light Rail Transit system called the Confederation Line—has a capacity of 390 and hosts regular live music events.
  • New! The Rabbit Hole hides its expansive stone-walled basement under a small street-level space on Sparks Street in downtown Ottawa.
  • New! The Fairmont Château Laurier has installed beehives outside the Senate of Canada‘s temporary home in the former train station across the street from the hotel; the resulting honey will be used in various dishes at the hotel.
  • New! Popular chef Joe Thottungal opened a sister restaurant to Coconut Lagoon: Thali serves platters that cover sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent, and spicy flavours all on one plate, right in downtown Ottawa.
  • New! Ottawa’s first Berlin doner restaurant, called Wolf Down, opened its doors on Bank Street downtown in May 2019.
  • New! Chef Dominique Dufour, formerly of Le Germain Ottawa hotel, opens Gray Jay on Preston Street, in summer 2019.
  • New! Also on Preston Street, bother-and-sister-owned restaurant Farinella offers no-nonsense Italian options, from pizza to gelato.
  • C’est Bon Cooking—Ottawa’s bilingual cooking school and culinary walking tour company—doubles the size of their kitchen facility and increases their programming line-up in late summer 2019.
  • New! In Almonte, Ontario, a new distillery has opened that makes its products with milk byproducts, reducing waste and supporting local dairy farmers. Dairy Distillery’s vodka—called Vodkow, of course—is sold in clear glass milk bottles!
  • New! Kichesippi Brewing Company opens a new—much larger—tasting room in spring 2019.
  • New! Brasserie artisanale Gallicus joined the local craft beer scene when it opened in Gatineau in February 2019.
  • New! An Ottawa coffee company is tackling the issue of unsafe drinking water on First Nations reserves in Canada. For every 40 bags of coffee sold, Birch Bark Coffee Company can provide one water filtration system. Great coffee for a great cause!


Don’t miss the best museum offerings in town!

  • At the Canadian Museum of Nature, check out Pterosaur: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs, and learn more about the largest flying animals that ever lived (until September 2, 2019). While there, warm up with Butterflies in Flight featuring live butterflies (extended until October 14, 2019).
  • At the Canadian Museum of History, learn about the species now considered as our equals by scientists at the exhibition Neanderthal (until January 26, 2020), and see UNCEDED – Voices of the Land, a breathtaking multimedia installation that brings together the past, present, and future of the Indigenous experience (until March 22, 2020).
  • At the Canada Science and Technology Museum, check out Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius, the most comprehensive exhibition experience on Leonardo da Vinci to tour the world (until September 2, 2019).
  • Learn about the South African (Boer) War at the Bytown Museum’s exhibition, The Gallant Thousand: Ottawa and the South African War, marking the 120th anniversary of the beginning of the war (until February 17, 2020).
    New! $2 admission to the museum for everyone.
  • Check out evocative works by Paul Gauguin from private collections from around the world at the National Gallery of Canada’s exhibition Gauguin: Portraits (until September 8, 2019)
  • Visit the FREE! Ottawa Art Gallery to see the exhibition Molly Lamb Bobak: A Woman of the Crowd, and discover paintings made by the first and only woman accredited as an official Canadian war artist of World War II (June 29, 2019-January 12, 2020).
  • At the Bank of Canada Museum, find out about Viola Desmond, the first woman (other than royalty) to appear on Canada’s bank notes (she’s on the new $10 bill). The A Noteworthy Woman exhibition runs until September 2, 2019.
  • Visit the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum to see Edible Futures: Food for Tomorrow, an interactive design exhibition about the future of food with selected artists’ designs (until September 2, 2019).
  • At the Canadian War Museum, learn about the Highland soldier at the exhibition Highland Warriors (until January 12, 2020), and discover powerful photographs of key events paired with reproduced archival items at the exhibition Invasion! – Canadians and the Battle of Normandy, 1944 (until November 24, 2019).


Marijuana was legalized in Canada as of October 17, 2018. And while this was a national decree, each province in Canada was able to set its own laws about how to implement such a change. In Ontario, an age limit (19) applies and sales began online, through a government website.

In April 2019, 25 cannabis retail stores opened in the province of Ontario, with three of them located in Ottawa: Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store (391A Bank Street), Fire & Flower York Street Cannabis Store (129 York Street), and Superette (1306 Wellington Street).

Meanwhile, Canopy Growth, in Smiths Falls (about an hour’s drive southwest of Ottawa), aims to become the world’s #1 cannabis company. Located in a former chocolate factory, the company has opened the Tweed Visitor Centre, offering self-guided tours to adults, highlighting the history of cannabis and a chance to see real grow rooms.

And Brew Donkey, Ottawa’s first and only brewery tour service, now offers tours featuring legal cannabis producers.



  • September 2019-May 2020 – The National Arts Centre—Canada’s bilingual multidisciplinary performing arts centre—celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019 with the launch of an Indigenous Theatre Department.
  • September 22, 2019 – The Canada Army Run moves to the Canadian War Museum for the 2019 edition.
  • November 29-December 22, 2019 (Fridays through Sundays) – New! A European-inspired Ottawa Christmas Market takes place at Lansdowne later this year!
  • Mid-November 2019 – 50th anniversary of the Help Santa Toy Parade 
  • Winter 2019-2020 – 50th anniversary of the Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink!
  • Spring/summer 2020 – 50th anniversary of Sunday Bikedays, when scenic routes are closed to traffic so cyclists and inline skaters can have free rein!
  • 2020 – 15th anniversary of Nordik Spa Nature, the largest spa in North America, located just a 15-minute drive north of downtown Ottawa.
  • Summer 2020 – New! Camp Fortune—a four-season recreational resort located in Gatineau Park, just a 15-minute drive north of downtown Ottawa which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2020—is introducing a luge in spring 2020 with a vertical drop of about 400 feet (130 metres).