As the cooler winter weather arrives, Canada’s charming capital gets into the holiday spirit with a flurry of special events. From beautiful colourful cityscapes created by thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights, to festive theatre presentations and culinary delights, you’ll easily be enchanted by the magic of the season in Ottawa. Here are just a few activity suggestions, ordered by start date, that are sure to get you into a jolly holiday mood!
Holiday programming at the NAC: Nov. and Dec., 2018
The beautiful National Arts Centre hosts a range of holiday entertainment throughout November and December. A few highlights include: The Nutcracker by the Albert Ballet (Nov. 28 – Dec. 2); The Hockey Sweater: A Musical (Dec. 5 – 23); and Handel’s Messiah (Dec. 18 – 19).
Magic of Lights: Nov. 16, 2018 – Jan. 5, 2019
Head just west of Ottawa’s downtown core to Wesley Clover Parks for Magic of Lights, a drive-through holiday light display. Nearly one million LED lights are spread over two kilometres, including a 200-foot light tunnel and large LED displays of your favourite winter characters like snowmen, elves and more. Select proceeds from each carload admission benefit the Ottawa Senator’s Foundation.
Ottawa Comiccon – Holiday Edition: Nov. 17 – 18, 2018
This two-day event at the EY Centre is the perfect place to find that “nerdy yule tide treasure” for the comic book lover in your life. Choose from original art, comics, toys and collectibles, plus the best pop culture merchandise. Admission is free.
Trees of Hope for CHEO: Nov. 26, 2018 – Jan. 4, 2019
Head to the historic 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 hotel followed by a stroll through the lovely trees located throughout their storied halls. This is a holiday season tradition for many.
Casselman Christmas Festival: Nov. 29 – Dec. 2, 2018
Visit the quaint community of Casselman, located about an hour east of Ottawa, as it comes alive with holiday cheer. The Festival’s special events include live music, comedy shows, a parade, the Santa Run and the Christmas Market.
The Museum of History’s Christmas Market: Nov. 29 – Dec. 2, 2018
This four-day Christmas market brings over 80 exhibitors to the Canadian Museum of History‘s Grand Hall. Choose from gourmet foods, artisanal spirits, handcrafted jewellery and many other unique handmade gifts. Free admission.
Canadian Museum of History’s Christmas Tree Lighting: Nov. 29, 2018
Christmas Tree Lighting at Lansdowne: Nov. 30, 2018
Launch the holiday season by celebrating the lighting of the Lansdowne Christmas tree at 6:00 p.m. on Nov. 29, in front of the Aberdeen Pavilion. Enjoy a festive atmosphere with carolers, Ottawa sports team mascots and players as well as Santa Claus. Complimentary hot chocolate and cider.
Alight at Night: Nov. 30, 2018 – Jan. 5, 2019 (select dates)
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, holiday music, carollers and festive snacks. During Alight at Night, you can stroll through the heritage village, take a horse-drawn wagon ride, or ride the life-size, family-friendly Toy Train that winds its way around the village. For a more private experience, reserve a ride in a romantic Pommier Carriage for two – a perfect occasion to propose to that special someone or to celebrate an anniversary!
Ottawa Farmers’ Market – Christmas Market: Dec. 1 – 23, 2018 (select dates)
At this Christmas Market, you’ll find over 120 producers from the Ottawa area and beyond presenting their food, arts and craft products. The event takes place Saturdays and Sundays between Dec. 1 and 23 at the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne. Free admission.
Concert at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum: Dec 2, 2018
Enjoy a concert by the Centralaires Concert Band inside the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, with the aircraft collection as the backdrop. The show, called Sounds of the Season, is free with museum admission.
Christmas Candlelight Service: Dec. 2, 2018
Looking for a special way to remember loved ones? Head to Beechwood National Memorial Centre for this outdoors candlelight memorial, which features carols and a tree-lighting ceremony.
National Gallery of Canada’s Christmas Tree Lighting: Dec. 4, 2018
The Gallery will be lighting its giant tree and offering special activities on Dec. 4 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.. Make a beaded swirl ornament to take with you, listen to Stellae Boreales, Ottawa Suzuki Strings’ violin ensemble, and enjoy complimentary hot chocolate and a treat. The tree will be on display until January 6, 2019.
Nightmare Before/After X-mas tour: Dec. 5 – 30, 2018 (select dates)
Join the Haunted Walk on this special walking tour as they explore the darker side of the festive season. Hear about strange and frightening holiday traditions from around the world and creepy Christmas-themed ghost stories. Most of the tour takes place inside the spooky Bytown Museum, Ottawa’s oldest stone building!
Christmas Lights Across Canada: Dec. 5, 2018 – Jan. 7, 2019
Join the fun Dec. 5, 2018 on Parliament Hill for the Christmas Lights Across Canada illumination ceremony, complete with carollers and hot chocolate. From then until Jan. 7, 2019, Ottawa’s downtown streets and several monument sites are lit up with hundreds of thousands of dazzling coloured lights. Plus, don’t miss the magical Winter Lightscapes show projected on Parliament’s Centre Block!
Originals Ottawa Christmas Craft Sale: Dec. 6 – 16, 2018 (except Dec. 10)
The Originals Ottawa Christmas Craft Sale is a popular annual event with 200 vendors offering one-of-a-kind items that are perfect for your holiday shopping list. The event takes place Dec. 6-16 at the EY Centre, except for closure on Dec. 10.
The Nutcracker: Dec. 7 – 9, 2018
See a performance of the classic ballet The Nutcracker by the Linda Jamieson Dance Company of Ottawa at the Algonquin Commons Theatre, just west of Ottawa’s downtown core.
Ottawa Chamberfest Christmas Concerts: Dec. 14 – 15, 2018
The Ottawa Chamberfest invites you to their Christmas concerts at Dominion-Chalmers United Church in downtown Ottawa. The Silver and Gold shows feature the sextet King’s Singers and the Ottawa Choral Society.
There are many more Christmas markets, holiday events and special offerings happening all around Ottawa! For a more complete list, check out our online Event Calendar!