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More Christmas and New Year’s offerings

8 Dec

A couple weeks, ago, I blogged about things to do over Christmas and New Year’s in Ottawa, with the promise to add more suggestions as we got closer to the dates. Well, here are some additional options to spend the festive time in Canada’s capital region!

As Eugene Haslam commented on the original post, Zaphod Beeblebrox – an iconic music venue in Ottawa’s ByWard Market neighbourhood — is open on Christmas Day. And while the website doesn’t share the details just yet, it will soon explain what’s happening there on New Year’s Eve, which traditionally means highlighting local talent.

For a party with an unbeatable view, visit the Crowne Plaza‘s top floor for the New Year’s Eve Carnival Event. The party alone is $65, but they also offer dinner and accommodation packages. DJ Karyen and DJ Ray Ray are supplyin’ the beats

On New Year's Eve, the National Arts Centre offers a dinner/show/after-party featuring Legally Blonde: The Musical. PHOTO: Marc Fowler

And for fans of Legally Blonde: The Musical, the National Arts Centre is offering a New Year’s Eve dinner/show/post-party package or à la carte options (eg. the gourmet dinner is $67.49 per person, the post-party is $32.31). It’s called “Paint New Year’s Eve Pink” so dress accordingly!

You could also opt for the high-stakes excitement of the Casino du Lac-Leamy: their beautiful theatre offers dinner-and-a-show options starting at $208.76 per person (including taxes, gratuities, parking and coat check) on New Year’s Eve featuring the Esquire Show Bar revue. A legendary R’nB mecca of the 50s, 60s, and 70s in Montréal, the Esquire Show Bar is recreated during the show with 15 soul music artists performing hits like Sweet Soul Music, At Last, Soulman, Knock on Wood, Under the Boardwalk, When a Man Loves a Woman, Mustang Sally, It’s a Man’s World and much more. Adjacent acommodation can be added on at the Hilton Lac-Leamy. What a way to welcome in 2011!

If you’re just now making plans to visit Ottawa for the holidays, don’t forget the Third Night Free option available through Ottawa Tourism. Valid at participating hotels through bookings up to March 31, 2011 (though travel can take place after that date), it’s a great deal!

Taste of Winterlude’s impressive lineup!

6 Dec

BeaverTails on the Rideau Canal Skateway are not the only culinary delight during Winterlude!

Taste of Winterlude is a series of wine and food events in Ottawa and Canada’s capital region that take place at various venues between January 27 and February 21, 2011. Winterlude — Ottawa’s great winter festival — has slightly shorter dates, starting on Friday, February 4 and continuing through February 21.

The National Capital Commission collaborated with local wine event company Groovy Grapes to program the series of events and what a job they’ve done!

Peruse the list of activities here:

Just a few highlights:

  • Savour Ottawa Walkabout Winter Feast (a tour of 5 restaurants in the ByWard Market neighbourhood who are members of this local foods movement) on Tuesday, February 8
  • Vegan restaurant ZenKitchen pairing their delicious food with a Niagara winery on Wednesday, February 9
  • C’est Bon Cooking offering their foodie walking tours of the ByWard Market neighbourhood on 4 consecutive Saturdays and offering a “cooking adventure” where you get in the kitchen with Chef Andrée on Friday, February 11
  • Avant-garde restaurant Atelier restaurant turning up the volume to pair their night with the music of Motorhead (!) on Tuesday, February 1
  • Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa featuring ice carving, ice wine and maple syrup (among other things) on Saturday, January 29
  • Le Nordik Nature Spa offering “Winterlude in a Bathrobe” with a cocktail reception on Thursday, January 27
  • Courtyard Restaurant offering a non-traditional Robbie Burns Day whisky dinner on Wednesday, February 16
  • the urban element offering a Niagara-themed wine and food event on Thursday, February 10
  • Le Baccara at the Casino du Lac-Leamy featuring a champagne tasting menu on Tuesday, February 1
  • And way more!

So now that you’re intrigued by the possibilities, here’s more great news. Book a visit to Ottawa and get your Third Night Free! That’s right, at participating hotels, you’ll get your third night of accommodation on the house! The offer is on now till March 31, 2011 — but that’s just for booking (your actual arrival in Ottawa can be during Winterlude, or maybe in May for the Canadian Tulip Festival, or maybe to catch some shows at the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest or the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival… the possibilities are endless!).

Full details are at

Winterlude packages now available!

28 Oct

I know, I know — you don’t necessarily want to think about snow and ice while it’s still October. However, for those of you who plan far in advance, or who know they’re going to be in Ottawa for business or pleasure in February… you should know that our Winterlude packages are now available.

Winterlude is a fun, mostly free festival celebrating winter in Canada’s capital region. Most programming happens on weekends between February 4 to 21 (Family Day), 2011. Skating on the 7.8 km (4.8 miles) of the Rideau Canal Skateway (weather permitting) is a key activity, but so are outdoor performances, snow and ice slides, ice sculptures, restaurant promotions and more!

The Winterlude Family Getaway is aimed at, well, families and includes accommodation at your choice of hotel and a Rideau Centre Savings Directory (for some great downtown shopping!). In addition, you can add on a family visit to your favourite museum: whether it’s the Crazy Kitchen at the Canada Science & Technology Museum or the creepy critters of the Animalium exhibit at the newly renovated Canadian Museum of Nature.

This could be you (or maybe you in the background!) skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway next February.

Meanwhile, the Winterlude Rendezvous for Two also includes accommodations and the Rideau Centre Savings Directory, plus the chance to add on a museum visit (maybe the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Canada, or the poignant stories of the Canadian War Museum) or maybe you’d prefer a $50 gift certificate for Holtz Spa, tickets to an Ottawa Senators games, a meal at Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures, or a performance at the National Arts Centre. You choose what works for you!

Hope to see you in Ottawa this winter!

Win a 3-night getaway to Ottawa!

1 Oct

Scotiabank Place, home of the Ottawa Senators. The winner will receive two tickets to attend a game! (Credit: Ottawa Senators Hockey Club)

Feelin’ lucky? Test your skill with the fun new online matching game on Ottawa Tourism’s website.

Find the 10 sets of matching Ottawa photos before the time runs out and then submit your name and contact info to be eligible to win a three-night getaway for two to Ottawa.

And what a getaway!

The trip includes 3 nights at the Novotel Ottawa Hotel (including breakfast), two $100 gift cards courtesy of Rideau Centre, an Ottawa Shopping Magazine, a Rideau Centre Savings Directory, couples Flaming Hot Oil Massage courtesy of Holtz Spa, 2 tickets to an Ottawa Senators hockey game, dinner for 2 (exclusive of alcohol / taxes / gratuities) courtesy of Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa, $50 in slot machines promotional credits, courtesy of Casino du Lac-Leamy, and complimentary admission for two to the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian War Museum. The approximate retail value of the package is $1,500.

Contest closes November 15 — good luck!

Fun family activities before summer ends!

17 Aug

As summertime winds down into back-to-school time, I thought I’d review a few family-friendly treats that you might want to explore. Ottawa is an extremely family-friendly destination – major museums have first-rate children’s programming year-round, like Artissimo at the National Gallery of Canada (how’s about seeing your child’s art on the walls of the Gallery?), or the fun interactive round-the-world-trip that is the Canadian Children’s Museum inside the Canadian Museum of Civilization, or the creepy critters of Animalium at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

But let’s take a look at some seasonal summertime attractions that will be behind us before we know it!

This is just one of the mazes at Saunders Farm. Great for burning off excess energy!

Take a ride in the countryside to check out Saunders Farm. You may be familiar with Saunders for their imaginative, creepy Hallowe’en programming in October (and it’s definitely worth a visit then) but don’t miss it in the summer! You and your kids can enjoy the splash pads, take a wagon ride, and burn off energy in the world’s largest collection of hedge mazes.  Bring your own treats, or buy some fresh from the farm — you’ll want to make a day of it. Saunders is located a good 45 minutes or so from downtown Ottawa (about 20 minutes from the west-end suburb of Kanata) — look at their website for directions. Open until September 6 (then open again in October for Hallowe’en season). Don’t just take my word for it, though, check out this great Kids in the Capital blog post from Lynn.

You have until Labour Day (September 6) to try out the brand new Calypso Theme Waterpark, which opened back in June less than a half-hour’s drive east of downtown Ottawa in the small town of Limoges. It boasts 35 waterslides, more than 100 water games and plenty of other activities. From the Zoo Lagoon for toddlers to Canada’s largest wave pool to the Fast Track extreme slide, you’ll find something for every member of your family.

Pirate Adventures' pirate ship is pretty convincing!

Another fun way to enjoy the water is to take a cruise with Pirate Adventures on the Rideau River, near Mooney’s Bay Beach in the south end. Once you’re suited up in your pirate gear, you’ll set sail in your pirate ship for hearty adventures. Uncover the clues of a treasure map, repel a boarding attack, make a villain walk the plank and more! Spend a day the pirate way!

The traditional end-of-summer fling is SuperEx, also known as the Central Canada Exhibition, which runs August 19-29, 2010 at Lansdowne Park in the Glebe neighbourhood downtown. From midway rides to agricultural exhibits to concerts, you’ll have a lot of distractions to keep you and your little ones busy.

The Ceremonial Guard Band is a big part of the Changing the Guard Ceremony.

There are plenty of ways to have fun without spending a dime, too! The Changing the Guard ceremony is awe-inspiring for kids, with the uniforms, the marching, the music and the spectacle of it all. The free ceremony takes place on the lawn in front of Parliament Hill every morning at 10:00, weather permitting, until Friday, August 27.

Tours of Parliament are also free — you can pick up your same-day tickets from the big tent located between Centre Block (the main building, with the Peace Tower and clock) and West Block until September 6. After that, go to the base of the Peace Tower and follow the signs.

And every night at 9:30pm until September 12, weather permitting, you can enjoy the free Sound and Light Show known as Mosaika, where dramatic images are projected onto the façade of the Parliament Buildings. Learn more about Canada through the spirit of its people in this highly entertaining, bilingual show. Bring a lawn chair or blanket, as bleacher seating is limited.

The Lumière Festival is fun for all. Photo credit:

One of my favourite events is the annual Lumière Festival, this year held a bit later than normal, on Saturday,  September 4. The event actually starts well before that, as people are encouraged to sign up for lantern-making workshops. The night itself is magical — little kids dress up as fairies or in other whimsical costumes and carry lanterns. Programming is musical, inventive, humourous — and the setting is beautiful, in Stanley Park in New Edinburgh, which runs along the eastern shore of the Rideau River before it empties into the Ottawa River.

Another fun activity for families is Alcatel Sunday Bikedays, which take place each Sunday (9:00am until 1:00pm) until September 5. Visit RentABike to, well, rent a bike, and then explore some fun areas of town where the streets have been closed to motorized traffic to let cyclists, inline skaters and joggers take over! One of the most popular routes is along Colonel By Drive downtown, overlooking the Rideau Canal.

Some of the balloons at the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival are whimsically shaped!

Also on Labour Day weekend, you can enjoy entertainment each dawn and dusk by just looking up, way up! The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival runs September 3-6, 2010 and if the weather cooperates, you can see dozens and dozens of multi-coloured (and sometimes interestingly shaped) balloons drift by. Activities such as live bands, extreme sports demos, crafts and classic car displays — not to mention rides in some of the balloons — are based in Parc de la baie in Gatineau, Québec (just across the Ottawa River from Ottawa). The prevailing winds usually blow the balloons farther eastward but every few years, the wind shifts and sends the balloons over downtown Ottawa, making everyone a part of the festival!

Great new shows at Casino du Lac-Leamy!

26 Apr

Casino du Lac-Leamy at night

Looking for a fun night out? Consider dinner and a show at the Casino du Lac-Leamy. Just a five-minute drive from downtown Ottawa, the Casino is an upscale entertainment venue, whether your evening includes food, drink, performances, or gaming excitement.

Their Théâtre offers a series of impressive tribute acts over the coming weeks — whether you’re interested in the music of Tom Petty (May 1), The Eagles (May 8), Motown (May 15), the Bee Gees (May 22), Eric Clapton (June 11-12), U2 (June 25-26), or Chicago (July 2), you won’t be disappointed. Tickets start at just $30 for some of the shows, $40 for others.

The facility is quite impressive, with unimpeded sightlines from each seat and first-rate acoustics.

For just $30 more, you can upgrade to the full dinner-and-a-sh0w option. A delicious three-course meal (with choice of appetizer and main course) awaits! Remember, attendance is restricted to people 18 and over.

Ottawa Senators playoff tickets on sale April 3

31 Mar

Into hockey? Tickets for the Ottawa Senators‘ first playoff round go on sale Saturday, April 3, at 10:00 a.m. at Scotiabank Place and through

At 8:00 a.m., a team will be handing out free Tim Hortons coffee and Timbits to the lineup, while Spartacat, the Senators’ mascot, will entertain fans. The Sens Store will also be open for fans, with all items being offered at a special one-day discount of 30 per cent off.

Meanwhile, Ottawa’s final home game of the regular season is on Saturday, April 10 versus the Buffalo Sabres. Team captain Daniel Alfredsson is poised to reach the milestone of 1,000 career games on April 6 and the team is planning to recognize Alfredsson with a celebratory tribute prior to the April 10 game. Each fan in attendance will receive a free commemorative T-shirt in recognition of the event.

Ottawa Tourism offers Hockey Night in the Capital packages for out-of-town fans, which includes tickets to regular season games, overnight accommodation, dinner before the game and the option to add on to the experience with museum admissions, spa treatments and more!

Third Night Free promotion

24 Feb

Thinking of coming to Ottawa for the Canadian Tulip Festival? Maybe to catch the Pop Life exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada this summer? Maybe for Canada Day, or the rockin’ Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest?

Maybe for the grand reopening of the Canadian Museum of Nature in May, or the opening of Calypso Waterpark in June?

Well, hop to it, because if you book your Ottawa getaway before March 5, 2010, you can get your Third Night Free at participating hotels.

What a deal!

Have you booked your Winterlude getaway?

26 Jan

Despite unseasonably warm temperatures yesterday that have temporarily closed the Rideau Canal Skateway, it’s full steam ahead for Winterlude 2010, to be held on weekends from February 5-21.

Have you booked your Winterlude getaway yet? Ottawa Tourism offers a romantic Winterlude Rendezvous for Two package as well as a family-friendly Winterlude Family Getaway package. Both offer accommodation at a range of hotels and the ability to add admission to a variety of cultural attractions, such as the National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canadian War Museum and more!

As most Winterlude activities are free, that makes for an amazing weekend away! And when you think that many hotels offer a Third Night Half Price option, your weekend getaway just got even better!

See you on the ice!

Ottawa welcomes Yummy Mummy Club!

22 Dec

Ottawa Tourism and the National Capital Commission welcome members of the Yummy Mummy Club who are planning to visit Ottawa during the Winterlude festival in February 2010. The festival runs February 5-21, 2010 and the mummies are coming February 12-15 — which also coincides with Valentine’s Day and the newest Ontario holiday — Family Day.

Watch the video below to see the famous Ice Hog mascots, check on the status of the Rideau Canal Skateway and get valuable tips for enjoying your Winterlude experience!


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