Ottawa sparkles and shines during the holiday season with Christmas Lights Across Canada. From early December to early January each year, thousands of colourful lights illuminate Canada’s capital. The radiant event, which began more than three decades ago, became such a hit that cities across Canada now participate in what’s become a national tradition. The 34th edition of Christmas Lights Across Canada takes place from December 5, 2018 to January 7, 2019.
The switch is flipped at an official illumination ceremony on Wednesday, December 5 at 7:00 p.m.. Join thousands of people on Parliament Hill for free BeaverTails pastries and hot chocolate, live musical performances as well as colourful pyrotechnics.
Magical winter lightscapes show
From December 5, 2018 to January 7, 2019, a winter lightscapes multimedia show is projected onto Parliament Hill’s Centre Block. Inspired by Canada’s nature, climate and culture, this 13-minute fairy tale runs nightly in a loop, from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Official lighting route
From 4:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. each day during the Christmas Lights Across Canada event, hundreds of thousands of dazzling holiday lights glow throughout downtown Ottawa. The lit areas include Confederation Boulevard, Canada’s ceremonial route, which encompasses Wellington Street, Mackenzie Street, Elgin Street and Sussex Drive in downtown Ottawa, as well as Laurier Street in Gatineau and the Alexandra Bridge. Historic sites and parks along the way are lit up as well.
Some of the best places to experience the lights include the National War Memorial, the Garden of Provinces and the view from Alexandra Bridge.
For more frugal winter fun, see our suggestions for Free or Nearly Free Ottawa in Winter.