If you’re coming to Ottawa for Canada Day this year, you’re in for a super-sized treat! In honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, Canada’s Capital is celebrating over the entire long weekend—from June 30 to July 2! (To learn more about official Canada Day weekend programming, visit our Canada Day webpage.)
From the boisterous energy of Parliament Hill to the busy reveler-filled streets of the city’s downtown core, you’ll be having a good time wherever you end up. But if you’ve never experienced Canada Day in Ottawa, you might not know what to bring along with you. So we’ve put together a handy list of items and tips that will help you make the most of this unforgettable patriotic party in the Canada’s beautiful capital city!
TIPS & TRICKS:
- Dress in RED & WHITE: Reflecting Canada’s flag, everyone – be it visitors or locals – wears these two colours on Canada Day! If you want to take your attire one step further, stock up on maple leaf and Canada flag stickers as well as temporary tattoos and face paint. You’ll see many people with these on too. And if you’d like to be able to keep track of a group or of children, dress in a bright and distinctive accent colour. The brighter the colour, the better, as they will stand out from the crowd!
- Bring a CANADIAN FLAG: You’ll see the Canadian flag out in all shapes and forms on July 1. Hold yours and wave it around proudly or if you choose, wear it as a cape. You’ll see many revelers doing this. There’s only one rule; don’t let the flag touch the ground, as it’s disrespectful.
- Grab a PAPER CANADIAN FLAG: These small paper flags are usually distributed at the main Canada Day celebration sites (Parliament Hill, Major’s Hill Park and the Canadian Museum of History). Get a flag and keep it with you for the day!
- Stop for a meal at a restaurant or on a patio WHEN YOU CAN: Most restaurants in the nearby ByWard Market neighbourhood and throughout Ottawa’s downtown core DO NOT take reservations on Canada Day. So if you see a potential spot, grab it while you can!
- Bring a REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE: With all of that walking in the July heat, you’ll get thirsty quickly and this is a great thing to have on hand! And at the official Canada Day celebration sites mentioned above, you’ll find several water bottle REFILL STATIONS. Make sure to stay hydrated, so you can enjoy all of the fun from dawn to the end of the fireworks and beyond!
- Bring a BACKPACK: This is a useful item to have with you, as you can bring along many helpful things such as sunscreen, sunglasses, a camera, hand sanitizer and a hat, to name a few. And if you plan on doing lots of reveling on Parliament Hill, DO NOT FORGET sunscreen and a hat as there is NO SHADE at this site. Note that some items are prohibited at official sites: weapons, fireworks, alcohol, aerosols, hard sided coolers, tripods, sticks, parasols, sporting equipment, and more. See prohibited items and site access information.
- Bring a small amount of CASH: There are many street food and souvenir vendors in downtown Ottawa on Canada Day. A small amount of cash is great to have, so you can buy something quickly and keep celebrating. Also, if you’re looking for a healthy snack such as fresh fruit or vegetables, most ByWard farmers’ market vendors only deal in cash.
- Bring a SMALL UMBRELLA or a RAINCOAT: These items are good to have just in case it starts to rain, but keep them portable! Opt for a smaller umbrella, which will be easy to carry and won’t block other revelers’ views of the stages set up at the main celebration sites.
- Consider bringing a FOLDING CHAIR: If you don’t plan on moving around too much on Canada Day, going from one site to another, a folding chair is a great item to bring along. Just keep in mind, you should be able to set up your chairs if you head to Parliament Hill earlier in the day. If you go in the evening however, it’s difficult to find a spot. Also, if you bring a chair downtown with you, you’ll have to carry it through the city’s crowded streets as you attempt to make your way home after the fireworks at 11:00 p.m. So consider whether this is a good option for you.
- See the FIREWORKS: You won’t want to miss the largest Canada Day pyrotechnic show ever—an amazing 20-minute 17-second (a nod to 2017) pyromusical show starting around 11:00 p.m.! This year, the fireworks will be launched from 5 different locations, creating a dazzling 360-degree fireworks extravaganza! Parliament Hill is not necessarily the best place to see the fireworks, as the historic Parliament Buildings can block part of your view. Consider these alternatives:
- The central loop of Confederation Boulevard which runs along Wellington Street, Mackenzie Avenue, Sussex Drive in Ottawa, as well as Laurier Street in Gatineau
- Major’s Hill Park, overlooking the Ottawa River
- The lawn of the Canadian Museum of History along the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River (Note: the Alexandra Bridge, which links Ottawa to Gatineau, is closed to vehicles as of 6:00 a.m. and to pedestrians and cyclists as of 9:00 p.m. on Canada Day—subject to change without notice).
- Take advantage of FREE PROGRAMMING on Canada Day: In addition to the three official Canada Day sites, free activities are also offered at many other locations around the city. A few highlights include:
- Museums: Most of Ottawa’s museums also offer free admission on Canada Day; however you’ll still have to pay admission if you wish to see their special exhibits. And keep in mind, the museums are air conditioned, offering great places to take a break and cool down during the day!
- National Arts Centre (NAC): The NAC is celebrating its newly renovated spaces with a variety of free programming for all ages on July 1.
- TD Ottawa Jazz Festival: Drop by Confederation Park on Elgin Street or the nearby Festival Plaza in front of City Hall to enjoy free Jazzfest concerts on July 1.
- MosaïCanada 150: A one-kilometre path featuring over one hundred Canadian-themed sculptures of all sizes made of living plants. This Gatineau 2017 events takes place June 30-October 15, 2017 at Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau, near the Canadian Museum of History.
- Take advantage of FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION around town on Canada Day: From 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on July 1, a free shuttle bus will be running between Major’s Hill Park (bus stop on St. Patrick Street, between the National Gallery of Canada and Major’s Hill Park) and the Canadian Museum of History (bus stop on Laurier Street, in front of the museum). Also, Ottawa’s city bus service, OC Transpo, will offer free transportation all day on Canada Day. This is an easy way to get to and from Ottawa’s busy downtown core and avoid all the street closures and pedestrian traffic. After the fireworks, remember to be patient while waiting for the bus. There’s an enormous crowd of people trying to leave the downtown core at the same time.
- Leave your PET AND YOUR VEHICLE AT HOME: In the heart of the action, the crowds are enormous and your puppy won’t necessarily be seen by all of those revelers’ feet! And with all the road closures, it’s best to not drive downtown. (See the complete list of road closures and interactive map.) Cycling is a great option, especially since there will be free supervised bike stations at Major’s Hill Park and at the Canadian Museum of History. Or if you want to avoid bringing your bike into the downtown core, lock it up just outside the centre of the action and walk in.
- SHARE your experience: Be sure to share the fun via social media – use the #MyOttawa and #CanadaDay hashtags!
For a glimpse into official Canada Day programming, visit our Canada Day webpage.
For more on what’s happening in Ottawa over Canada Day weekend, check out our article Extend Your Stay: What To Do Around Canada Day Weekend 2017.
Have fun, stay cool and be safe. Happy 150th Birthday Canada!