This week on the Travel Show – Ottawa in the Spring, as over one million tulips create an exotic mosaic of colour and beauty. In Commissioners Park alone – 300,000 tulips, in artistically crafted flower beds, celebrate Canada’s close ties with the Netherlands. This is one of the most beautiful times to visit Ottawa.
Visit www.OttawaTourism.ca or phone 1-888-OTTAWA-8 for some great short break ideas. The “Tulip Celebration Package”, for example, includes shopping discounts plus two nights’ accommodation and the option to include dinner at Le Cordon Bleu Bistro or admission to the Canada Museum of Agriculture, the Canadian Museum of Civilization or the National Gallery of Canada, from only $117 per night.
You can create your own Ottawa Getaway thanks to Ottawa Tourism’s website that brings you the ability to book flexible packages online. Get great deals and a wide range of hotel choices as you create your own escape to Ottawa. And look for the special BONUS button for bookings that will include additional FREE items during your stay – participating hotels are offering bonuses like free parking, free internet or food and beverage vouchers.
Ottawa's tulip heritage is the result of a 1945 gift to Ottawa from Princess Juliana of the Netherlands in thanks for the safe haven the city provided the Dutch Royal Family during the Second World and the role Canadian troops played in liberating Holland during that conflict.
The tulip beds in Ottawa such as Commissioners Park are under the care of the National Capital Commission (NCC). The NCC also manages the tulip displays at Parliament Hill, along Confederation Boulevard, the historic Rideau Canal, the Capital’s scenic parkways, the recreational pathway network, and at national museums and institutions. And the NCC looks after the design and maintenance of the gardens at Canada’s Official Residences, including Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex Drive.
The skilled gardeners who plant the bulbs are creating works of art with “messages in flowers”. So for instance the choice of colour of the blooms is very important. The gardeners of the NCC plan the tulip display to last as long as possible, and they plant a number of different varieties of tulip bulbs. Early flowering tulips usually bloom around the end of April and late flowering blooms are still creating a beautiful display until the end of May.
During the Great Canadian Tulip Festival, May 3 - 20, 2013, you’ll encounter pageantry, music and art throughout Ottawa’s great neighborhoods. The best way to see the tulips is the Tulip Shuttle that takes you to all the main tulip sites.
Come for the Tulips, stay for the experience and the great entertainment and culture Ottawa has to offer!
World Class Cultural Attractions
“Sakahan” at the National Gallery of Canada (May 17 – September 2, 2013)
Sakahàn, meaning “to light a fire” in the language of the Algonquin, is the National Gallery of Canada’s largest survey of recent Indigenous art. It will highlight over 150 works by more than 75 artists from around the world, including impressive installations created specifically for this exhibition. Poetic, unexpected and challenging, the artworks document and interrogate distinct cultural, political and social issues. One of the Gallery’s most ambitious contemporary art exhibitions to date, this is part of a five year project to spotlight Indigenous art.
“STAR WARS™ Identities” at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum (May 10 – September 2, 2013)
Explore the remarkable characters and storylines from the STAR WARS™ films that have touched so many generations. Breathtaking face-to-face encounters with dozens of character costumes and props, as well as original artwork and models, will take you behind the scenes in the movie-making process. An insightful investigation into the science of identity sheds light on what can make fictional characters who they are – and what makes you who you are.
“Eleven Women Facing War” at the Canadian Museum of War (Until April 21, 2013)
This exhibit traces eleven destinies, eleven stories of women from areas that include Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Colombia, the Balkans, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. Internationally renowned photographer Nick Danziger revisited these women ten years after he initially photographed them in conflict zones.
“Vodou: A Way of Life” at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (Until Feb 23, 2014)
This fascinating exhibition allows you to travel through this exhibition showcasing over 300 Haitian cult objects, all witness to the power of belief over destiny. This is not the Hollywood version, with its zombies and pins stuck in dolls! This exhibition is a rare opportunity to better understand a complex spiritual tradition, its beliefs and rituals, from the viewpoint of the people who practice it.
"Uncorked!" Canadian Wines at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (4 dates in 3013. See Program Calendar)
A truly unique wine tasting experience: visitors can savour wines inspired by the Museum’s surroundings and learn from savvy sommeliers, microbrewers, and Museum curators.
"Nature Unlashed: Inside Natural Disasters" – (Until May 5, 2013)
At the Canadian Museum of Nature, explore the dramatic power of Earth’s forces through the natural phenomena of earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes and tornadoes. Get an understanding of how they work and a real sense of their power. Find out how people cope and adapt in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
"Nature Nocturne", a new way to discover the Canadian Museum of Nature! (5 Fridays in 2013)
Dance until midnight while DJs fill the castle with awesome sound. Meet artists throughout the galleries. Discover four floors of world-class museum exhibitions. Thought-provoking, interactive, immersive, social— this is an exciting and different kind of museum experience! Held the third Friday of every month.
Get Outdoors in the Heart of the City!
Ottawa Race Weekend (May 25 - 26, 2013)
Lace up your sneakers as over 40,000 runners take to the street of Ottawa to compete in a variety of challenging races, including Canada’s largest marathon.
As the days warm up - the patios roll out and you can have a wonderful meal in one of the many outdoor patios in the lively ByWard Market. Ottawa is a great venue for the great outdoors, right in the heart of the city! Spend the whole day outside, walking or biking along the canal. Sunday Bike Days starts May 19, 2013 when many scenic routes in Ottawa and Gatineau are closed to traffic and open to outdoor enthusiasts.Take to the water on a river cruise or hop on board an open top bus tour. And the more adventurous will want to try kayaking or river rafting on the Ottawa River.
"Yoga on Parliament Hill" (Starts May 1, 2013)
Join Lululemon and hundreds of people on Parliament Hill every Wednesdays at 12:00 noon for a free yoga session on the lawn in front of Parliament. Bring your own mat and water! Celebrate your nation’s capital and get a few sun salutations in while you’re at it.
Splash out at Calypso Water Park (Open June 6 – September 2, 2013.
Calypso Water Park is just a short drive outside of Ottawa. Calypso is Canada's biggest theme waterpark on an extensive 100-acre facility. There’s water fun for everyone from toddlers to teens, from party dudes to grandparents. There are more than 35 waterslides and 100 water games, Canada's largest wave pool and the highest free-standing waterslide tower in North America. Plus Jungle Run, a 750 m wild and twisted river adventure.
"Hockey Night in the Capital" (Runs till April 27, 2013)
Cheer the Senators on as the regular season plays out until April 27, 2013. Book you tickets through www.ottawatourism.ca to include your hotel room.
"Ottawa ComicCon" at the Ernst & Young Centre (May 10 - 12. 2013)
A celebration of pop culture and entertainment featuring celebrities, personalities, fans and exhibitors from the worlds of comic books, sci-fi, fantasy, movies, TV, toys, anime, gaming and more. Panels, photo ops, collectables, masquerade and shopping! This year’s celebrity line-up includes Gillian Anderson of The X-Files, Adam West and Burt Ward, also known as Batman and Robin from the 1960s television series.
"Ottawa International Children’s Festival", LeBreton Flats (May 28 - June 2, 2013)
A celebration of the performing arts for young audiences and their families, featuring the finest in theatre, dance, arts and music from highly acclaimed international and local artists. Plus fun for the little ones like face painting and storytelling.
Ottawa Trip Showcase
- VIA Rail is a great option from Toronto as well as Montreal.
- Ottawa has countless great hotels to choose from.
The Holiday Inn and Suites Ottawa Downtown is located in the trendy Golden Triangle District of downtown Ottawa and is a perfect base for your Ottawa Getaway. It is close to the Ottawa VIA Rail Train Station and also mere steps from the Rideau Canal and within walking distance of trendy Elgin Street shops, restaurants and nightlife, historic Byward Market, and Parliament Hill.
Or choose the WelcomINNS Ottawa featuring 109 recently renovated rooms that offer comfort, style, and functionality. This pet -friendly hotel is conveniently situated right off HWY 417. Each room comes with free high speed Wi-Fi access, free local calls and continental breakfast.
Visit www.ottawatourism.ca to see more great hotel options.
- Visit during May to see the Tulips at their best in Ottawa. Visit the Canadian Tulip Festival and check out the Tulip Shuttle to get around the tulip sites.
- Visit the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization to enjoy both their permanent collections and exciting exhibitions all year long.
- And if shopping is a must – head for the designer stores of the Rideau Centre.
Photo Credits: Ottawa Tourism