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 hundreds of 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 is just some of the special programming, ordered by start date, that will surely get you into a jolly holiday mood!
Holiday programming at the NAC: Nov. and Dec., 2019
The beautiful National Arts Centre hosts a range of holiday entertainment throughout November and December. A few highlights include: The Nutcracker by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show, and A Jann Arden Christmas with the NAC Orchestra.
Ottawa Comiccon – Holiday Edition: Nov. 9 – 10, 2019
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.
Help Santa Toy Parade: Nov. 16, 2019
Ottawa’s 50th annual Help Santa Toy Parade features Santa Claus, parade floats, bands and entertainment. The parade starts at Ottawa City Hall at 11:00 a.m., continues along Laurier and Bank Streets and ends at TD Place at Lansdowne in the Glebe neighbourhood. Along the way, the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters’ Association collects new toys and donations for the less fortunate.
Magic of Lights: Nov. 21, 2019 – Jan. 4, 2020
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.
Trees of Hope for CHEO: Nov. 25, 2019 – Jan. 3, 2020
Head to the historic Fairmont Château Laurier hotel to see several beautifully decorated Christmas trees during Trees of Hope. After gazing at the lovely trees in the hotel’s storied halls, consider staying for Afternoon Tea or a meal in the dining spaces.
Miracle at Savoy: Nov. 25 – Dec. 31, 2019
The Savoy Brasserie restaurant in the trendy Westboro neighbourhood is transformed into a Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail bar. Enjoy holiday décor, holiday cocktails and Christmas music during Miracle at Savoy!
Casselman Christmas Festival: Nov. 28 – Dec. 1, 2019
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. 28 – Dec. 1, 2019
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. 28, 2019
Ottawa Christmas Market at Lansdowne: Nov. 29 – Dec. 22, 2019
Don’t miss the first ever European-style Ottawa Christmas Market at Lansdowne in the vibrant Glebe neighbourhood, just south of Ottawa’s downtown core ! Enjoy seasonal food and drink (including alcoholic options), a giant Christmas tree, carolling, Santa Claus, performances and more. This free event takes place Friday evenings through Sundays.
Alight at Night: Nov. 29, 2019 – Jan. 4, 2020 (select dates)
Just a 45-minute drive south of Ottawa’s downtown core in Morrisburg, Ont., you’ll find an 1860s heritage village decorated with nearly one million twinkling lights during Upper Canada Village’s Alight at Night event. Enjoy festive music, carollers, treats, horse-drawn wagon rides, romantic carriage rides and more.
Ottawa Farmers’ Market – Christmas Market: Nov. 30 – Dec. 22, 2019 (select dates)
The Christmas edition of the regular Ottawa Farmers’ Market features over 120 producers from the Ottawa area and beyond presenting their food, arts and craft products. The event takes place Saturdays and Sundays between at the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne. Free admission.
Christmas Glow: Nov. 30, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020
This first Ottawa edition of Christmas Glow – an event held in cities around the world – is taking place at the EY Centre. The family-friendly indoor festival features a million lights, illuminated structures, interactive activities, live entertainment, food, vendors and more.
Christmas Village Season: Nov. 30 – Dec. 22, 2019 (select dates)
Experience holiday fun at Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm, located about 30 minutes east of downtown Ottawa in Edwards, Ont. Enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides, elves, songs, games, treats and more.
Christmas Lights Across Canada: Dec. 4, 2019 – Jan. 7, 2020
During the Christmas Lights Across Canada event, 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!
National Gallery of Canada’s Christmas Tree Lighting: Dec. 5, 2019
The Gallery will be lighting its giant tree and offering special activities on Dec. 5 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.. Enjoy special treats, art-making activities, performances by Stellae Boreales, a ride on the mini outdoor train and free access to current exhibits. The tree will be on display until January 5, 2020.
Nightmare Before/After X-mas tour: Dec. 5 – 30, 2019 (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!
Originals Ottawa Christmas Craft Sale: Dec. 5 – 15, 2019 (except Dec. 9)
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 at the EY Centre.
Christmas Candlelight Service: Dec. 8, 2019
Looking for a special way to remember loved ones? Head to Beechwood National Memorial Centre for this outdoor candlelight memorial, which features carols and a tree-lighting ceremony.
Music & Beyond Christmas programming: Dec. 13 and 21, 2019
The Music & Beyond festival’s holiday programming includes a performance by Constantinople & Savina Yannatou as well as Music & Beyond’s Christmas fundraising concert.
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!