Whether you embrace wintry outdoor activities like skating and snowshoeing, or prefer indoor experiences like beer festivals, shows or museums, there are countless ways to enjoy winter in Ottawa! We’ve gathered a selection of special events (in order of start date) that will keep you happy until spring.
Live creatures at the museum: Oct. 6, 2018 – Apr. 28, 2019
Get up close and personal with live creatures of all kinds at the Canadian Museum of Nature! Walk among hundreds of fluttering butterflies and luscious live plants in the Butterflies in Flight exhibit, and meet sloths, reptiles, iguanas, hedgehogs, bats and more at the Survival of the Slowest exhibit. For more temporary museum events, consult our special exhibits page.
Vegas Nights at the Casino du Lac-Leamy: Jan. 17 – Feb. 23, 2019
The Casino du Lac-Leamy invites you to go all out at their Vegas Nights, which run Thursday through Saturday evenings until Feb. 23, 2019. You’ll have a chance to step into the fun money machine and to win a $1 million grand prize. There are also showgirl performances, extravagant menus and giant cocktails.
Winterlude: Feb. 1 – 18, 2019
Take part in the 41st edition of Winterlude – Ottawa’s biggest winter season event! Over three fun-filled weekends in February, you can enjoy everything Canada’s enchanting winter season has to offer from the giant ice slides of Winterlude’s Snowflake Kingdom, to beautiful snow and ice sculptures, to skating through Ottawa’s downtown on the world’s largest outdoor skating rink, the famous Rideau Canal Skateway. And the best part of Winterlude? Most of the events are FREE!
Beau’s FeBREWary: Feb. 2 – Mar. 3, 2019
Beau’s Brewery is hosting, FeBREWary, a month-long celebration of all things craft-brewed! Head to the brewery on weekends to sample their numerous brews (including brand new beers tapped each week), tour the brewery, and enjoy food and entertainment. You can either drive to the brewery which is located in Vankleek Hill, Ont. about one hour’s drive from Ottawa and from Montreal, or sign up for one of the weekend shuttles from either city.
Undercurrents: Feb. 6 – 16, 2019
This winter theatre festival produced by Ottawa Fringe presents some of the best original, contemporary independent theatre created by Ottawa performers and visiting artists. All Undercurrents shows take place at the Arts Court Studio in the Downtown Rideau area.
TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival: Feb. 7 – 9, 2019
There’s nothing like the soothing sounds of jazz to warm up chilly winter nights. The Winter Jazz Fest features jazz artists of international acclaim as well as local talent at La Nouvelle Scène, a venue just outside the ByWard Market neighbourhood. Featured artists for this year’s festival include Joey Calderazzo, Nellie McKay and the 33z among many others. The festival also welcomes any jazz musician to join their Winter Jazz Jams.
Megaphono: Feb. 7 – 9, 2019
Experience the best of the local and regional music scene during the Megaphono festival. Over 80 live acts will perform short sets in 25 venues across the Ottawa region. Shows take place in the afternoons and evenings, and some are pay-what-you-can and open to all ages, while others are ticketed with age restrictions.
Canadian Ski Marathon: Feb. 8 – 10, 2019
Each year, thousands of skiers participate in the Canadian Ski Marathon, the world’s longest and oldest Nordic ski tour. The event covers 160 kilometres (99 miles) of ski trails throughout rural areas of the Outaouais region east of Gatineau, Quebec.
Winter Celebration: Feb 9, 2019
This annual one-day celebration of all things winter takes place on the grounds of the Governor General’s historic residence, Rideau Hall. Skate on the refrigerated outdoor rink, learn to ski and snowshoe, taste foods from Nordic countries and other seasonal treats, and take a tour of the residence. If one day of wintry outdoor activities isn’t enough, check out our Winter Activities page.
The Gift of Jazz: From Africa to New Orleans to The True North Strong and Free: Feb. 13 – 14, 2019
Odyssey Showcase presents their annual tribute to Black History Month at the National Gallery of Canada. This event celebrates the musical history of jazz with performances by Deborah Davis, Segue to Jazz, Michael C. Hanna, Jamaal Jackson Rogers and former world tap dancing champion, Darin Kyle.
Ottawa Winter Brewfest: Feb. 15 – 16, 2019
Quench your craft beer thirst at the Winter Brewfest which is held in the historic Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne. Choose from over 100 beers from across Ontario and Quebec, plus delicious food and live music. Head outside to warm up and dance around the bonfire or to nibble on taffy. A yoga class and beer tasting are also scheduled!
Come See and Hear the World music festival: Feb. 15 – 16, 2019
Developed by the team behind the popular RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, this new indoor music festival features an eclectic line-up of musicians from Tanya Tagaq to Dwayne Grezky and many more.
Gatineau Loppet: Feb. 15 – 17, 2019
Canada’s biggest international cross-country ski event, the Gatineau Loppet, attracts thousands of athletes from some 20 different countries to Gatineau Park. The event features cross-country ski races, snowshoe races as well as fat bike races.
Ottawa Bachata Festival: Feb. 15 – 18, 2019
The Ottawa Bachata Festival presents workshops and performances of Bachata, Zouk and Kizomba by local and guest performers, as well as social dances.
Big Bang Festival: Feb. 17 – 18, 2019
The National Arts Centre’s Big Bang Festival presents entertainment for kids and families on the Sunday and Monday of the Family Day weekend. Ticketed as well as free events include performances by the NAC orchestra, a marching band, sound machines and other interactive activities.
Salon du livre de l’Outaouais: Feb. 28 – Mar. 3, 2019
The Salon du livre de l’Outaouais is a popular event that celebrates French literature. Enjoy programming for all ages including meet and greets with authors, workshops and entertainment.
Presdelicious: Mar. 1 – 10, 2019
Take advantage of special prix-fixed menus at participating restaurants along Little Italy’s Preston Street during Presdelicious.
Kidsfest: Mar. 2 – 3, 2019
Bring the kids and enjoy a large assortment of entertainment and exhibitors at Kidsfest, Ottawa’s longest-running parent and kid show.
Coffee Fest: Mar. 23, 2019
Ottawa’s first annual coffee festival presents beverages from various local roasters paired with tasty treats, plus music, prizes and workshops. All the Coffee Fest action takes place at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne.
Crackup Hilarity for Charity and Candy Awards Show: Mar. 23, 2019
The Alterna Savings Crackup comedy Festival is hosting the Hilarity for Charity and Candy Awards Show which presents all forms of comedy including stand-up, magic, improv and music. Crackup events support mental health initiatives.
VERSeFest: Mar. 26-31, 2019
Ottawa’s annual international festival of poetry, VERSeFest, showcases some 80 of the best local, Canadian and international poets who perform spoken and written word genres in English and French.
This is only a snapshot of all the great activities that are going on in Ottawa this season! To find out more about what there is to see and do, explore our Event Calendar.