Ottawa Tourism

What’s Up in Ottawa – Winter 2018-19

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

Download the PDF Version



Ottawa celebrates frosty fun with Winterlude! Between February 1 and 18, 2019 Canada’s Capital Region transforms into a winter wonderland as the 41st edition of the festival takes over Jacques Cartier Park (Snowflake Kingdom), the Rideau Canal Skateway, and NEW in 2019! the ByWard Market neighbourhood and the Sparks Street pedestrian mall. There’s a focus on Indigenous culture (first weekend), LGBTQ2 communities (second weekend), and family and diversity (third weekend), along with returning fun favourites like ice slides, the Ice Dragon Boat Festival, and the International Ice Carving Competition.

Take advantage of the many skating rinks around Ottawa:

  • Experiencing the Rideau Canal Skateway is a bucket list item for many visitors as it is the largest outdoor skating rink in the world, as big as 90 Olympic-sized ice rinks! Experience true Canadiana while skating 7.8km (4.8 miles) with a delicious, hot BeaverTail pastry in your hand! FREE! Skate rentals available.
  • The SENS Rink of Dreams is a refrigerated ice surface located outside Ottawa City Hall, adjacent to the Rideau Canal. Check out the sweet lighting display that makes night skating exciting! (December 1, 2018-March 4, 2019, weather permitting). FREE! Skate rentals available.
  • Skate outside the historic Aberdeen Pavilion on the Lansdowne Park Skating Court. Follow your session on this refrigerated rink with a bite at one of the many restaurants in Lansdowne or in the nearby Glebe neighbourhood. (December 1, 2018-March 4, 2019, weather permitting). FREE!
  • After a tour of Rideau Hall, visit the refrigerated skating rink (originally built in 1872) and Winter Pavilion on the grounds! Public skating is available on weekends. (December 1, 2018-March 24, 2019, weather permitting). FREE!

Ottawa hosts fun sporting events throughout the year; in winter, check out the Ottawa Senators, the capital’s team in the National Hockey League, as they take on teams at the Canadian Tire Centre just west of downtown. Or, watch the Ontario Hockey League Ottawa 67’s play at the Arena at TD Place at Lansdowne!

More fun winter activities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and fat biking in Gatineau Park (downhill skiing is also available), in the National Capital Commission’s Greenbelt that encircles Ottawa’s urban core, and along the Sir John A. Macdonald Winter Trail along the south shore of the Ottawa River heading west from downtown.



Don’t miss the best museum offerings in town!

  • 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 May 12, 2019.
  • At the Bytown Museum, learn about the culture, history, and influence of the Métis people through their objects, photographs, and narratives at Beyond Fiddles and Sashes (February 2-April 28, 2019).
  • Visit the FREE! Ottawa Art Gallery to explore Karim Rashid’s designer work in Canada at the exhibition Karim Rashid – Cultural Shaping (until February 10, 2019). Then, check out Canadian artist Juan Geuer’s inventive approach to installation bordering science and art at Carbon and Light – Juan Geuer’s Luminous Precision (March 9-August 18, 2019). 
  • At the Canadian War Museum, learn about the campaign that ended World War I through artifacts, artworks, documents, and photos at the exhibition Victory 1918 – The Last 100 Days (until March 31, 2019). While there, see the moving depictions of former battlefields and cemeteries in France and Belgium by Canadian artist Mary Riter Hamilton at Resilience – The Battlefield Art of Mary Riter Hamilton, 1919–1922 (until March 31, 2019).
  • At the Canadian Museum of Nature, come face-to-face with live iguanas, bats, rattlesnakes, hedgehogs, and—of course—a sloth at the Survival of the Slowest exhibition, and while there, warm up at Butterflies in Flight featuring live butterflies (until April 22, 2019). Children can now enjoy exploring the museum after hours and spending the night in a museum gallery with NatureSLEEPOVERS (until June 2019) 
  • Head to the Canada Science and Technology Museum to see the museum’s transportation collection highlights at the exhibition Moving Stories (until March 24, 2019). 
  • Check out watercolour and oil drawings by the Swiss artist Paul Klee at the National Gallery of Canada exhibition Paul Klee: The Berggruen Collection from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (until March 17, 2019) and while there, see an evocative exploration of history and identity at the immersive installation PhotoLab 5: Althea Thauberger (until February 3, 2019) 
  • 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 experience 19th century Canada through the lens of a photography pioneer, William Notman, at the exhibition Notman, Visionary Photographer (until April 14, 2019).


In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8, here is a fun (but VERY incomplete) list of ways to celebrate women in Ottawa:

  • Check out the Courage and Passion: Canadian Women in Natural Sciences exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Nature (until March 31, 2019), celebrating Canadian women who broke barriers to pursue their passion for science.
  • Stop at the shop at the Canada Science and Technology Museum for gifts for budding (and established) scientists, including great “Women in STEM” t-shirts.
  • Visit Rideau Hall, the home and workplace of every Canadian Governor General (the Queen’s representative in Canada), including Julie Payette, the current Governor General.
  • Peruse the treasures at the National Gallery of Canada, including works by Emily Carr and Daphne Odjig, among others. Janet Cardiff’s Forty-Part Motet—located within the former Rideau Chapel—is particularly moving.
  • Grab brunch at Edgar (owned by Marysol Foucault) or a drink at Soif Bar à Vin (owned by Véronique Rivest) in nearby Gatineau, and enjoy Executive Chef Katie Ardington’s creations at Beckta Dining + Wine, co-owner/Chef West DeCastro’s goodies at Clover, vegetarian delights at Pure Kitchen (co-owned by Amber Stratton), and enjoy a cool desert at Liz Mok’s Moo Shu Ice Cream.
  • Beer drinker? Raise a toast with a delicious Freedom Machine Cherry Pale Ale brewed in honour of International Women’s Day each year by Bicycle Craft Brewery.


Was something you wrote about Ottawa or Canada’s capital region published in English or in French in 2018? 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, 2018 and December 31, 2018. 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 1, 2019. 



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-early-2019 Light Rail Transit system called the Confederation Line—has a capacity of 390 and hosts regular live music events. It’s a great addition to the local culinary and nightlife scene!



  • Acclaimed family-owned chocolatier Stubbe Chocolates relocated from Dalhousie Street to 1224 Wellington Street West in fall 2018. 
  • Speaking of chocolate, Hummingbird Chocolate of nearby Almonte, Ontario won a silver and three bronze awards at the International Chocolate Awards 2018. 
  • New! Also 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! The craft beer scene continues to grow, with Overflow Brewing Company joining the party with an initial lineup of 5 brews. Meanwhile, new-to-the-scene Local Lager plans to only offer their one beer. And Big Rig has been named the official craft brewer at the Shaw Centre, Ottawa’s premier convention centre while Calabogie Brewing Company has opened a second location in the west-end suburb of Kanata. 
  • New! A great new local-focused restaurant called Eldon’s opened in the trendy Glebe neighbourhood. 
  • A stalwart of the ByWard Market neighbourhood, the Fish Market Restaurant (along with its downstairs wine cellar Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro and its upstairs pub Coasters Seafood Grill) celebrates its 40th anniversary in April 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! 
  • New! A delicious all-day salad spot called Lollo opened in July in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. 
  • Ottawa’s only Burmese restaurant (and one of only two across Canada), Rangoon, has relocated to Chinatown (Somerset Street West). 


New!At the end of January 2019, the Parliament of Canada’s Centre Block closes to the public as the building undergoes a decade-long rehabilitation.

Starting February 1, tours are offered at two new sites: West Block—the interim home of the House of Commons—and the Senate of Canada Building (previously known as the Government Conference Centre and once Ottawa’s central train station)—the interim home of the Senate—on the days that the Parliament is not sitting. To maximize the visitor experience, more tours than ever will be offered at the two sites during peak hours and tour hours are extended during certain days of the year.

A new Visitor Centre (located between West Block and Centre Block) greets visitors to West Block and a new online booking system for both of these free tours is now available via  

In the summer of 2019, outdoor activities and events on Parliament Hill such as the Changing of the Guard ceremony, Canada Day celebrations, weekly Yoga on Parliament Hill sessions, and the Sound and Light Show will take place as per usual on the front lawn of Parliament Hill.