Ottawa’s relaxed urban vibe makes it a great winter short break destination. Relax, reconnect and explore Ottawa during Winterlude - this year the festival runs from February 3 - 20, 2017.
Lace up your skates on the Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s largest rink. Admire ice and snow sculptures brought to life with colourful lighting. And have fun on giant snow slides in the largest snow playground on the continent!
Winterlude is Ottawa’s premier winter festival during three fun-filled weekends in February - there’s fun for the entire family, and all sites are open on Ontario Family Day. There are three major venues in downtown Ottawa and two of the official sites will focus on a specific theme this year: “Explore our Canadian Landscapes”, at Jacques-Cartier Park, and “Dare to Dream”, at Confederation Park.
Grab your skates and glide along the world’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink. With a length of 7.8 kilometres, this scenic skating rink begins in the heart of downtown and extends to Dows Lake.
Located at the head of the Rideau Canal Skateway and close to many downtown hotels, this is where you will find a fusion of art and ice with live ice carving competitions and demonstrations. At night the sculptures are beautifully illuminated with coloured lighting. Chrystal Gardens is venue for Winterlude Kick-off Celebration as welll as well as the Sub-Zero Concert Series featuring Canadian artists (Fridays and Saturdays).
This is where you should head with the kids - or if you are a big kid yourself. There are giant snow slides, winter sports and games, and no shortage of outdoor fun. This is North America’s biggest snow playground and the park is also the home of the Ice Hog Family - Winterlude’s furry mascots. There is a new snow slide this year as well as ziplining and Snowflake kingdom will be the 2017 National Snow Sculpture RendezVous.
Most Winterlude activities are held on the weekends— and there is no shortage of things to do with learn-to-skate clinics, a hockey tournament, a winter triathlon, children’s entertainment and more! During the week you can enjoy the ice sculptures, skating on the Rideau Canal and the Snowflake Kingdom children’s snow playground (except Tues and Wed for Snowflake Kingdom).
Foodies will love unique culinary events created by some of the capital’s best local restaurants — there are wine and food pairings, chef demonstrations and walkabout winter feasts. Plus the city comes to life with other Winterlude related concerts, activities and events. With all this going on a great travel tip is to get around using the FREE OLG-Sno-Bus which runs between the 3 official sites on weekends and on Family Day.
But Winterlude isn’t the only time to get out and enjoy winter. In Ottawa the whole season is filled with exciting winter activities. The Rideau Canal Skateway is open for the entire winter season, weather permitting, along its 7.8 km length. Skate rental is available and you can stop for a famous Beavertail and hot chocolate at the warming huts on the side of the canal.
And, of course, in nearby Gatineau Park you can enjoy 200 km of groomed cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing, and overnight camping in a winter wilderness oasis just 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa. And right inside the gates of Gatineau Park is Nordik-Spa Nature - the largest Spa in North America with outdoor thermal baths and saunas.
When you want to get indoors and leave the snow behind - immerse yourself in Ottawa’s arts, culture and history - plus shop, dine and unwind. There is always so much going on - indoors and out - when you visit our Nation’s Capital, Ottawa.
Photo Credits: Otatwa Tourism, Nordik-Spa Nature and Canadian Heritage
There’s always something going on in Ottawa, no matter what time you visit. You can always check out the events calendar at www.ottawatourism.ca for up to date information.
Ottawa sparkles in the wintertime and the major event in the city is the Winterlude Festival that runs February 3 - 20, 2017. There are also many activities in Ottawa timed to coincide with the festival.
Events coming up in the early part of 2017 include:
National Arts Centre
The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (January 25- February 11, 2017)
At the National Arts Centre you can see “The Colony of Unrequited Dreams”, which is an NAC English Theatre collaboration. This is based on Wayne Johnston’s novel about the life of Joey Smallwood – premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and the self-described “Last Father of Confederation”.
Canadian Tire National Skating Championships (January 16 to 22, 2017)
Skaters compete in the men’s, women’s, pairs, and ice dance disciplines in three levels: senior, junior, and novice. The very first Canadian Skating Championships were held in 1914 in Ottawa.
Nature Nocturne: Lunar New Year (January 27, 2017)
Dance until midnight while DJs fill the castle with awesome sound. Meet artists throughout the galleries. Discover four floors of world-class museum exhibitions
Alterna Savings Crackup Comedy Festival (February 4 to 18, 2017)
Attracting top comedic talent from across North America, the 2017 festival has more record-breaking attempts, more family events, more shows and WAY MORE LAUGHS to raise more money for mental health.
Winterlude (February 3 to 20, 2017)
A unique winter festival featuring snow and ice sculpture competitions, snow playgrounds, and skating and sporting events. Winterlude transforms Ottawa into a winter wonderland.
Winterlude Triathlon (February 4, 2017)
Hundreds of winter enthusiasts skate for 8 km, cross-country ski for 8 km and run for 5 km.
Gatineau Winter Beerfest (February 3 to 4, 2017)
Discover artisan and local brewers inside the museum’s Grand Hall and outdoors, among friends and family.
TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival (February 9 to 12, 2017)
Offering up a little southern comfort on those chilly February nights, the TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival will be hitting up venues around the city.
Accora Villa Bed Race (February 11, 2017)
Fifty teams of 4 runners and one rider compete with modified and decorated beds for honours and prizes as the fastest bed, the best decorated bed and the best fundraisers
Canadian Ski Marathon (February 10 to 11, 2017)
The world’s longest cross-country ski tour, covering 160 km of ski trails, caters to about 2,500 skiers annually. Ski as little as 12 km or the whole 160 km; you set the pace.
Gatineau Loppet (February 17 to 19, 2017)
Join Canada’s biggest cross-country ski event in Gatineau Park: more than 3,000 skiers—experts and amateurs, coming from 20 different countries—will take part.
There are a number of options for you to enjoy winter outdoors on your own schedule.
Don't miss the national museums of Ottawa during your visit. They amaze, amuse, fascinate - and they always make you think
If you want to get General Admission to several museums at a great price - consider a Canada's Capital Museums Passport. For $30 plus applicable taxes you can visit 3 uniquely Canadian museums in Ottawa–Gatineau over 3 consecutive days. Each accompanying child receives 30% discount off children/student admission at each Museum.
All of the national museums located in Ottawa–Gatineau, are part of Canada’s Capital Museums Passport:
Here is a list of exhibitions over the Holiday period:
Alex Janvier (until April 17, 2017)
Alex Janvier is a senior aboriginal artist who has been at the forefront of the field of contemporary aboriginal art in Canada. Janvier was one of ten children born to Mary and Alex Janvier on the Le Goff Reserve of the Cold Lake First Nations, in northern Alberta. He is one of Canada’s most acclaimed contemporary painters.
This major retrospective celebrates Alex Janvier’s lifetime of creativity, knowledge and perspective, gained through his love of the land, art and Dene culture. Visitors will have an unprecedented opportunity to appreciate Janvier’s unique style. He combines Dene and Western art styles and techniques. His paintings on paper, canvas and linen reference Indigenous culture and history and have universal appeal.
Vimy – Beyond the Battle (April 7, 2017 - January 7, 2018)
In 2017, the War Museum will present a multi-faceted exhibition and programming schedule exploring the Battle of Vimy Ridge and its meaning, 100 years later. A special exhibition focused on commemoration and memory, upgrades to the presentation of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the Museum and highly interactive programming will enable visitors to understand how this iconic event has shaped our perception of history.
Hockey (March 10 – October 9, 2017)
Share our magnificent obsession with our national sport of Hockey with one-of-a-kind artifacts (including Jacques Plante’s famous hockey mask), video clips of historic highlights, and personal memorabilia. Explore Canada’s historic love of the sport of hockey, and its impact on Canadian identity.
Reptiles (until April 2, 2017)
Get eyeball to eyeball with colourful lizards, deadly snakes, bizarre turtles and an alligator. In total, 30 live animals that represent 19 different species are waiting for you as you meet an amazing variety of live reptiles from around the world! You'll discover cool facts and get a new appreciation for these misunderstood creatures. The exhibition’s science and conservation messages aim to dispel common myths and demonstrate how reptiles fit into the animal kingdom and their native environments.
The show is produced by Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland in Allentown, Pennsylvania, creators of the popular Frogs exhibition hosted by the museum in 2013.
Life In Orbit: The International Space Station
What is it like to live in space? This exhibition tells the story of daily life aboard the marvel of technology that is the International Space Station (ISS). Find out how the space station stays up in space. Learn how the ISS works - through the eyes of the astronauts who’ve lived there - and see some of the items from the Space station like a space toilet and exercise equipment.
The culinary scene in Ottawa has come alive in recent years, with a thriving community of Ottawa chefs and restaurants making names for themselves both at home and abroad.
Located in the historic Sandy Hill neighbourhood in downtown Ottawa, Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute has been a driving force behind this culinary resurgence. It is the only Canadian campus of this world renowned culinary training school – and includes Signatures Restaurant where anyone can sample the delights of exceptional French cuisine.
Signatures Restaurant has a tasty, locally inspired, menu with French flare - bringing you unique culinary creations by Chef Yannick that you won't find anywhere else in Ottawa! A meal at Signatures Restaurant is a great gastronomic experience, enhanced by its setting in an historic building – what a great venue to host private groups fopr special occassions!
Ottawa Magazine best new restaurants in 2016 include: Bar Laurel, Carden Food + Drink, Datsun, Fairouz, North & Navy, The Pomeroy House, Riviera, The Rowan, Sansotei Ramen and Walesbone Elgin. Click here for restaurant sugestions covering a number of Ottawa's lively neighbourhoods.
As well as Ottawa’s restaurants – here are two rather different ways to enjoy the foodie scene in Ottawa. Both of these activities can be booked at weekends so you can plan them as part of a short break in the Capital.
C’est Bon Gourmet Food Tours allow you to explore Ottawa’s neighbourhood food markets, discover local produce and dishes, and meet area chefs and food artisans. Find the hidden treasures with the help of expert and insightful guides. Current tours explore Ottawa’s ByWard Market, Preston Street, Chinatown, Wellington West and the Glebe neighbourhoods, as well as Eddy Street in old Gatineau. These delightful epicurean outings last an hour and a half to two and a half hours each. They’re casual walking tours, so be sure to dress comfortably and allow for the weather.
Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute offers short cooking courses to the public ranging from half day to four days in length. Some are offered at the weekend – so this is something that a visitor to Ottawa could easily fit in as part of their stay. Though the courses are taught by the same teachers who educate the budding chefs at the Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute - everyday cooks should not be intimidated. These really are courses for everyone. Course topics include Cake Decorating, Healthy Cuisine, Knife Skills, Potatoes and Oh Chocolat amongst many others.
In 2017 Canada will mark 150 years since Confederation – and where better to celebrate this moment of national pride than in our Nation’s Capital? Canadians will gather in Ottawa to join local residents in a year of celebration. Throughout the year, branded as “Ottawa 2017”, there will be big Signature Events that will animate the entire city as well as community celebrations enlivening Ottawa’s neighbourhoods.
Some events that will be happening all year long – so you can catch them no matter what time you visit. “Ignite 150” is a series of EPIC stunts, gatherings and happenings that will be presented in surprising locations. And “Ottawa Welcomes the World” as Embassies mark their country’s national celebration at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park with food, music and more.
Of course – there will only be one Canada Day like the one in 2017! Ottawa 2017 and CIBC are celebrating in style, at the Shaw Centre – Canada’s Meeting Place. You will be able to enjoy some incredible Canadian cuisine prepared by some of our nation’s top chefs while experiencing a surprising and eclectic array of live musical and theatrical performances.And everyone will be looking forward to the splendor of the Canada Day fireworks.
The day after Canada Day an Interprovincial Picnic will take place on Ottawa’s well-known Alexandra Bridge, which links the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The bridge will be converted to a park with actual grass, inviting families and small groups to enjoy a picnic above the Ottawa River.
There are also some fantastic events scheduled over the course of the year that celebrate sports, music and the arts, and many of them are free. For all the details check out www.ottawatourism.ca.
Red Bull Crashed Ice (March 3 – 4, 2017)
This event will make its Ottawa debut when the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship crashes and glides its way into the capital. It will take place on the iconic locks of the Rideau Canal, overlooking Parliament Hill and the famous Chateau Laurier.
The Stanley Cup 125th Tribute (March 15 – 18, 2017)
A four-day celebration of a Canadian emblem and the most revered trophy in all of sports: the Stanley Cup.
Grey Cup: November 2017
The 105th CFL Grey Cup will be preceded by the Grey Cup Festival - a week of celebrations prior to the game. This is Canada’s largest annual sporting event and the annual championship game of the Canadian Football League!
JUNO Awards & JUNO Week (March 27 – April 2, 2017)
Juno Week will be unprecedented week of musical festivities culminating in the 46th Annual JUNO Awards at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Ottawa Welcomes the World
Embassies will mark their country’s national celebration with 45 events over the year – including:
March 21, 2017 - Embassy of the Hellenic Republic of Greece
April 11, 2017 - Ottawa Diplomatic Community: Fundraising Food & Wine Fair
April 23-25, 2017 - Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
Ignite 150 will be a series of EPIC stunts and happenings including more than 12 events such as:
March 24, 2017 - Alexander Shelley school band concert
April 8, 2017 - Sugar Lumberfest
April 19,2017 - R.E.E.L. Canada drive-in
Arts, Culture and Heritage
14 events/projects will highlight Canada’s vibrant culture:
March 18, 2017 - Visual17e Ottawa 2017
March 27-April 2, 2017 - MIFO Francophone showcase
April 23-May 27, 2017 - Ottawa in the World of Documentaries
Inspiration Village (May 20 – September 4, 2017)
On York Street in the ByWard Market neighbourhood, this public gathering space built out of sea containers will showcase special exhibitions and performing arts featuring Canadian provinces and territories.
La Machine (July 26 – 30, 2017)
For the first time in North America, La Machine will bring its monumental motion theatre to the streets of downtown Ottawa. Prepare to be mesmerized by these fascinating creatures.
Underground Multimedia Experience (End of June – Mid-September, 2017)
Experience the ultimate underground extravaganza with this world first immersive multimedia production, projected in one of Ottawa’s city’s future Light Rail Transit (LRT) stations.
At the same time as these special events are enlivening Ottawa - transformative legacy projects will come to fruition and launch the Capital into the future. The new Confederation Line Light Rail is just one of the exciting projects that will bring so much to the city. In addition there will be community gardens created, new galleries and museum enhancements completed, a renewal of Main Street, the redevelopment of the National Arts Centre and Ottawa Art Gallery - plus two new initiatives opening with the Ottawa Innovation Centre and The Global Centre for Pluralism.
2017 Legacy Projects will particularly focus on enhancing the already World Class Cultural Attractions in Ottawa:
To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, the National Gallery of Canada is embarking on a major transformation. The Canadian Galleries will close as of 2 August 2016 and will reopen 17 May 2017 as the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries as a wonderful backdrop to this section of the Gallery’s extensive permanent collection.
The National Arts Centre is the home of the NAC Orchestra, French and English Theatre as well as dance. Renovation is underway and when the 2016-2017 season begins, the National Arts Centre will have a beautifully updated Southam Hall with better seats, better sound and better access.
The largest and most ambitious exhibition project ever undertaken by the Canadian Museum of History - the Canadian History Hall - is a gift to the people of Canada as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Opening July 1 with 40,000 sq ft in 3 galleries containing 18 chapters and 1,500 artifacts – the Canadian History Hall will tell the story of 15,000 years of Canadian history
The Canadian Museum of Nature is also being enhanced. The Arctic’s rich natural diversity and its important connections to humans are the focus of a new permanent gallery to open June 21, 2017. The goal of the New Canada Goose Arctic Gallery is to enhance and transform people’s understanding of the Arctic and its importance to Canada in the 21st century. Visitors will immerse themselves in the Arctic’s natural history and human connections through four broad themes: climate, geography, sustainability and ecosystems.
The Canada Science and Technology Museum will reopen in Fall 2017 after a complete refurbishment. The Museum’s exhibitions space will be upgraded to enhance the visitor experience and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and innovators. There will be five main galleries, including a special Children's Gallery, and four other themed spaces; Creating and Using Knowledge;Moving and Connecting, which will include the beloved locomotives; Technology in our Lives; Transforming Resources.
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