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 some fun events taking place during the winter months (in order of start date) that will have you loving winter.
Canada 150 Skating Rink on Parliament Hill: Dec. 7, 2017 – Feb. 28, 2018
Don’t miss your chance of a lifetime to skate on the first ever skating rink on Parliament Hill before it closes on Feb. 28! Where else can you skate in front of the country’s working federal government buildings? Free skating passes are released on the Canada 150 Rink website 48 hours prior to each available skating date. Skate and helmet rentals are available on site. (For many other skating options, visit our Where to Ice Skate in Ottawa page.)
DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition: Dec. 8, 2017 – April 8, 2018
See the sketch-to-screen journey of animated classics like Shrek, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon at the DreamWorks Animation exhibit at the Canadian Museum of History. The museum is also screening your favourite DreamWorks movies in their CINÉ+ theatre!
Butterflies in Flight exhibit: Dec. 16, 2017 – April 2, 2018
For a warm and tropical experience this winter, head to the Canadian Museum of Nature! The Butterflies in Flight exhibit invites you to walk among hundreds of fluttering butterflies and luscious live plants in the museum’s solarium. Wear bright colours and the colourful creatures might land on you! Admission to this popular exhibit is by timed entry, therefore it’s recommended to reserve tickets in advance on the museum website.
Vegas Nights at the Casino du Lac-Leamy: Jan. 22 – Mar. 4, 2018
This winter, what happens at the Casino stays at the Casino! Thursday through Sunday evenings Jan. 22-Mar. 4, the Casino du Lac-Leamy is hosting Vegas Nights with mock weddings in the Wedding Chapel, showgirl performances, extravagant menus, giant cocktails, and international DJs at ALÉA nightclub. There’s also a Texas Hold’em poker tournament Feb. 22-25 and entertaining shows in the Théâtre du Casino including tributes to Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and David Bowie.
Mosaïvernales – Gatineau 2018: Jan. 26 – Feb. 20, 2018
A new and magical winter experience awaits in Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau, Que. this winter: Mosaïvernales – Gatineau 2018! Stroll along a 1-kilometer path surrounded by more than 30 gigantic sculptures made by Canadian and Chinese master artists. The masterpieces are created by applying snow and ice on top of the horticulture frames that were used in the popular MosaïCanada 150 exhibit in 2017. In the evenings, the masterpieces are illuminated by lights, lasers and even fire! The exhibit is weather dependent and admission fees apply to access the site.
Winter Celebration: Jan. 27, 2018
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.
Gatineau Winter Beerfest: Feb 2 – 3, 2018
Ottawans love craft beer and the Gatineau Winter Beerfest is the first of two beer festivals in the region in February! This popular event presents over 100 delicious beers from Quebec, Ontario and beyond, plus wine, spirits, food and live music. Most of the action takes place in the Canadian Museum of History’s majestic Grand Hall, but outside there’s also a bonfire, a yurt, taffy on snow, as well as warm beverages.
Winterlude: Feb. 2 – 19, 2018
Take part in the 40th 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. 3 – Mar. 4, 2018
Beau’s Brewery is hosting a month-long celebration of all things craft-brewed! Head to the family-run and certified organic brewery on weekends from Feb. 3 to Mar. 4 to sample their numerous brews (including brand new brews tapped each week), take a tour of the brewery, enjoy DJ music, fun games and a beer-inspired menu. You can simply show up at the brewery which is located in Vankleek Hill, Ont. – about one hour’s drive from Ottawa and from Montreal – or sign up for their handy weekend shuttles from either city. Cheers!
Cracking Up the Capital – Comedy Festival: Feb. 5 – Mar. 24, 2018
This comedy festival is hosting stand-up shows at various venues throughout the city during Winterlude as well as in March, for a kind of “March Break for Adults”. The festival culminates with the Crackup Comedy Gala and Candy Awards on Mar. 22 where top Canadian comedians including Colin Mochrie, Andrea Martin, Patrick McKenna and Mary Walsh will have you in stitches. Plus, you can participate in the annual Crackup Snowmania Challenge snowman building event at Lansdowne in the Glebe neighbourhood on Feb. 17. All festival events support mental health initiatives.
Undercurrents: Feb. 7 – 17, 2018
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 and each features a Talkback with the show’s creators immediately following the performance. Check out their special events as well, including the opening and closing parties, as well as Friday Beers & Panel Discussions.
TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival: Feb. 8 – 10, 2018
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 Fred Hersch, Emma Frank, Chet Doxas, Dock In Absolute, The 33Z play Michael Jackson, Barbra Lica, among many others.
Les Misérables: Feb. 13 – 18, 2018
Head to the beautifully renovated National Arts Centre to see the Tony Award-winning musical, Les Misérables. Grab a drink at one of the bars and settle into your plush seat to experience the new and reimagined staging of one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history.
The Gift of Jazz: From Africa to New Orleans to The True North Strong and Free: Feb. 15 – 16, 2018
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. 16 – 17, 2018
The Winter Brewfest, held in the historic Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne, is another great opportunity to quench your craft beer thirst. 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 is also scheduled!
St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Beau’s St. Patrick’s Party: March 10, 2018
Following the 36th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, head to the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne for the family-friendly Beau’s St. Patrick’s Party. Sip on some craft brews by local staple Beau’s All Natural and other Ontario craft brewers, nosh on some Irish-inspired cuisine and enjoy live music. Don’t miss the fun activities too, like the Stein Hold Struggle and the Irish Dance-Off! Note that the parade and event are held on Saturday, March 10 (before St. Patrick’s Day).
Escape at the Museum: Until April 30, 2018
Experience the Canadian Museum of Nature in a unique way by joining local company Escape Manor for two adrenaline-pumping escape room mysteries inside the museum. These escape adventures are offered on weekend evenings until the end of April and are recommended for ages 13 and up.