If you need a little bit of help getting into the holiday spirit, Canada’s charming capital has many activities to offer. As the cooler winter season weather arrives, Ottawa becomes bathed in a crisp breeze and the soft glow of thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights. From beautiful colourful cityscapes created by Christmas Lights Across Canada, to unique theatre presentations and culinary delights, it’s impossible for you not to be enchanted by the magic of the season. Here are a few suggestions for activities that are sure to get you into a jolly holiday mood!
Gift of Lights: Nov. 25, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017
Head just west of Ottawa’s downtown core to Wesley Clover Parks to enjoy this new drive-thru holiday lights adventure! Drive along a two-kilometre family-friendly trail featuring more than 30 different light displays and a 100-foot light tunnel. Limos and buses can be accommodated. Gift of Lights is sure to delight young and old! $20 CDN per car.
19th Annual Trees of Hope for CHEO: Nov. 28, 2016 – Jan. 4, 2017
Head to the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel to see several beautifully decorated Christmas trees throughout the holiday season during Trees of Hope! Opt to enjoy Afternoon Tea or a meal at the Château Laurier and then, walk around to see the lovely trees. This is a holiday season tradition for many.
The Nutcracker: Nov. 30 – Dec. 4, 2016
A holiday season tradition in Ottawa, this classic story is being told by the Alberta Ballet. Settle into your seat at the National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall and let yourself be enchanted by beautiful scenery, dancing snowflakes and more. The whole family will enjoy this performance! Visit www.nac-cna.ca for tickets.
The Museum of History’s Christmas Market: Dec. 1 – 4, 2016
Lansdowne Christmas Market: Dec. 2 – 18, 2016
On the evening of Dec. 2 at 6:00 p.m., Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson will help kick off Lansdowne’s Christmas Market by lighting one of the tallest Christmas trees in Ottawa with 43,000 lights. Enjoy carol singers, free hot chocolate and live music! The Lansdowne Ottawa Farmers’ Market: Christmas Edition will take place each weekend until Dec. 18.
Alight at Night: Dec. 2, 2016 – Jan. 7, 2017
This is another Christmas lights festival that takes place at just a 45-minute drive south of Ottawa’s downtown core. In Morrisburg, Ont., you’ll find 1860’s Upper Canada Village adorned with nearly one million twinkling lights.
Walk through the heritage village on your own and take pictures of the beautiful lights or opt to go through on a horse-drawn wagon ride. There is also a life-size, family-friendly Toy Train that makes its way around the village. Throughout the charming town, you’ll find holiday music, carollers and festive snacks. There’s no way you can resist the charms of the holiday season here!
And for something a little more special, opt to reserve a ride in a romantic Pommier Carriage for two. Cuddle up under a blanket and take in the sites of the beautifully-lit winter wonderland. This is a great way to propose to that special someone or to celebrate an anniversary.
Canadian Museum of History’s Christmas Tree Lighting: Dec. 6, 2016
On Dec. 6 at 6:00 p.m., the Museum of History will light its 14.3-metre Christmas tree, which will be the tallest outdoor Christmas tree in the Ottawa-Gatineau region! The tree will be decorated with red and white lights to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation. Enjoy Christmas carols, hot chocolate and Beaver Bites until 6:30 p.m. The tree will remain lit until Jan. 8, 2017.
Christmas Lights Across Canada: Dec. 7, 2016 – Jan. 7, 2017
Come to Ottawa over the month of December to take in one of the city’s favourite holiday season traditions. Launched with an official illumination ceremony on Dec. 7, 2016, complete with carollers and hot chocolate, Ottawa’s downtown streets along with several monument sites are lit up with about 400,000 dazzling coloured lights!
This illumination program started three decades ago as a way to liven up the darkest days of winter. Now, cities participate all across the country. Why not come to Ottawa, get your holiday shopping done and take in the enchanting beauty of the twinkling lights? You can even get cozy next to Parliament Hill’s Centennial Flame as you take in the scenery.
National Gallery of Canada’s Christmas Tree Lighting: Dec. 8, 2016
Be in the National Gallery of Canada’s Scotiabank Grand Hall at 6:30 p.m. to see the lighting of the magnificent Christmas tree. Enjoy hot chocolate and Christmas carols performed by Stellae Boreales. Also enjoy free admission to the National Gallery from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Originals Ottawa Christmas Craft Sale: Dec. 8 – 18, 2016
Another Ottawa holiday season tradition, the Originals Ottawa Christmas Craft Sale takes place at the EY Centre at 4899 Uplands Dr. Peruse about 200 vendors offering one-of-a-kind items. This is a great place to find a unique gift!
The Nutcracker: Dec. 9 – 11, 2016
See a performance of this classic holiday season ballet by the Linda Jamieson Dance Company of Ottawa. The Nutcracker takes place at the Algonquin Commons Theatre, just west of Ottawa’s downtown core.
A Christmas concert… under candlelight: Dec. 17, 2016
Head to St-Joseph Cathedral (245 St-Joseph Blvd.) to hear classic pieces such as Ave Maria, Greensleeves, Christmas carols and more. Enjoy this peaceful Christmas concert!
Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy: A Celtic Family Christmas: Dec. 21, 2016
Head to the National Arts Centre to see this lively fiddle performance. A Celtic Family Christmas will take you into the joyful world of a Cape Breton Christmas! The performance starts at 8:00 p.m.
These are only a few ideas to get your holiday season celebrations started. As Canada’s Capital, Ottawa is home to several national museums with special exhibits, fantastic award-winning restaurants, great spas and much more. To learn more about what there is to do in Ottawa, visit Ottawa Tourism’s See & Do page.