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King Lear set in 1608 Canada!

4 Apr

Coming to Ottawa this May? Check out this performance of Shakespeare’s King Lear at Canada’s National Arts Centre.

August Schellenberg

King Lear is perhaps the greatest of all Shakespeare’s dramas.”
The Telegraph

From May 8-26, 2012, the National Arts Centre English Theatre presents King Lear, set in the Canada of 1608 (the year the play was written) during the Iroquois/Huronia Wars. This version of Shakespeare’s tragedy, directed by Peter Hinton, includes a cast of Aboriginal actors from across Canada and features the renowned Quebec actor August Schellenberg as Lear.

Tickets are available at the NAC box office and online. Or, plan your Ottawa vacation and include this production as part of an Ottawa Tourism getaway package.

Other 2012 productions from the NAC English Theatre include Communion (April 10-21), Sandra Shamas’ WIT’S END III: LOVE LIFE (April 10-14), The Glace Bay Miners’ Museum (Oct 16 – Nov3), thirsty (Nov 5-17), and Pride and Prejudice (Nov 21 – Dec 8).

A whale of a time at the Canadian Museum of Nature!

16 Mar

Yes, that's the size of a blue whale's heart! Unbelievable! credit-Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2008

March Break visitors to the Canadian Museum of Nature this week got a first look at the new exhibit, Whales Tohorā, which runs from March 2 to September 3, 2012. This exhibit is on loan from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Tohorā, means “whale” in Māori, and the Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. Whale-bone treasures, such as weapons and adornments, that the Māori produced reveal the significance of whales to them and reflect the exhibition’s cultural expression of the relationship between the two groups.

Whales Tohorā explores the diversity, biology and adaptation of whales to life in the oceans and also on the human impacts on whales such as the threats of fishing nets, foreign debris, predators and boats. A stunning component of this exhibition is the massive 17.8-metre, fully articulated sperm-whale skeleton that gives a real sense of the sperm whale’s size as the largest toothed predator on the planet!

The exhibition’s Whale Lab is full of interactive science:

  • Children can crawl through a life-sized replica of the heart of the largest living creature—the blue whale.
  • The extraordinary evolutionary journey of whales from land to the sea is shown by casts of fossil whale ancestors.
  • Visitors can tune in to a range of whale sounds and discover how scientists and amateur trackers identify individual whales on their migration through the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Whale Lab also features Search and Destroy, an experience that takes visitors to the ocean depths on a hunt for a giant squid, re-created from authentic data and sounds collected from a real sperm whale.

Visitors of any age will find something of interest in this awe inspiring exhibit that explores the undersea world of whales and brings them to life with cultural storytelling, intriguing objects and interactive science.  For more information on the exhibit visit the Canadian Museum of Nature website or, to book your getaway package that includes a visit to the Whales Tohorā exhibit, visit

Ottawa’s Rink of Dreams

26 Jan

Rink of Dream's Opening Ceremony

In a sea of Sens jerseys Ottawa’s Rink of Dreams was officially opened last night at City Hall, just in time for the NHL All Star Weekend. Residents and visitors to the city will be able to enjoy free ice skating in Canada’s Capital from mid-November to March thanks to the refrigeration unit that keeps the ice in great skating condition up to 10 degrees C.

The Rink of Dreams hosts a heated change hut that’s open 7 days a week from 8am to 11pm. In the evening, skaters will glide the ice that’s three-quarters the size of an NHL rink and illuminated by colourful LED lights around the perimeter.

So grab your skates and lace up!

Ottawa Fall Festivals

12 Sep

Ottawa may be Canada’s Capital, but not all of our parties are political. Here’s a brief overview of some of fabulous fall festivals and celebrations happening in the city and nearby towns and villages.

International Plowing Match & Rural Exp0
Sept 20 – 24

Nearby Prescott-Russell comes alive with this annual autumn competition and exhibition. It’s a tough row to hoe, but someone’s got to do it!

Ottawa International Animation Festival
Sept 21 – 25

It’s the largest festival of its kind in North America and attracts film buffs, art lovers, filmmakers and cartoon fans from around the world! Image (right): La Luna, Director: Enrico Casarosa, Pixar Animation Studios, 2011.

Ottawa Fashion Week
Sept 29 – Oct 2

Ottawa, Canadian and international designers strut their stuff for Spring/Summer 2012 during the seventh annual Ottawa Fashion Week.

Beau’s Oktoberfest
Sept 30 – Oct 2

Local microbrewer Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company presents three days of Oktoberfest fun in Vankleek Hill, an hour east of Ottawa.

Fall Rhapsody
Sept 30 – Oct 16

The annual celebration of fall colours in Gatineau Park, featuring activities, learning and sightseeing for the whole family.

Ottawa International Writers Festival
Oct 20 – 25

Michael Ondaatje, Irshad Manji, Chef Michael Smith, Wayne Johnston, Adrienne Clarkson, Guy Vanderhaeghe are just some of the authors confirmed for this annual event. Image (right): Ian Rankin who appears at the Festival on October 24th

Ottawa Food and Wine Festival
Nov 9 – 13

The longest running event of its kind in Canada, the Festival moves into the all-new Ottawa Convention Centre and expands to five taste-filled days of programming.

Casino du Lac-Leamy Presents Sound of Light

5 Aug

Sound of Light, August 14, 2010 - Germany, Photo Credit Mike Alexander

Beginning Saturday, August 6, the Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light hosts 5 unforgettable evenings of international pyromusical fireworks synchronized to original soundtracks. Fireworks experts from around the world compete for the Zeus Trophy, which was captured by Germany’s Steffes-ollig in 2010. A must see event from August 6 – 20 on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. The pyromusical competition begins at 9:30pm.

Sat Aug 6, 2011 – China
Wed Aug 10, 2011 – Italy
Sat Aug 13, 2011 – Canada
Wed Aug 17, 2011 – Germany
Sat Aug 20, 2011 – Casino du Lac-Leamy’s Grand Finale

To enjoy the show, you can bring your own chair or blanket and purchase general admission tickets for Lac Leamy beach or opt for the convenience of grandstand seating with a reserved ticket. To get to the action, a shuttle service is provided by the STO bus service from Ottawa (Wellington Street) and Gatineau (Les promenades, Loblaws (Hull area), Parc-o-bus Robert-Guertin) for $3 per person round trip, FREE for kids 11 years and under.

Check out the schedule of activities for the complete line up of events happening at Lac-Leamy Park and on the Tim Hortons’s stage.

Family Fun Activities

20 Jun

Looking from great family friendly activities this summer? Ottawa has a lot to offer, from splashing in the water parks, to running through hedge mazes, and exploring and learning in a vast array of air conditioned museums with hands-on activities. There’s no shortage of options.

Just Add Water

Calypso Theme Waterpark

Calypso Theme Waterpark, just 20 minutes east of the capital, hosts Canada’s largest wave pool, state of the art slides, a whitewater rafting experience, and tons of other cool features that will be a blast for all ages. 10 new waterslides opened this year including the largest free-standing slide tower on the continent.

Just 20 minutes north of Ottawa in the scenic splendor of the Gatineau hills, Mont Cascades Waterpark features a showcase of water other pool attractions. Their new SplashForest combines all the excitement of waterslides with the new “activewaterplay” structure packed with water cannons and climbing nets.

Outdoor Adventures

Summer is a time for getting outside and reveling in the sunshine. At Saunders Farm , there are plenty of activities to do together, including an exploration of North America’s largest collection of hedge mazes. Navigate your way through more than 23,000 square feet of intricate paths, before climbing aboard a beautifully constructed pirate ship on land, and cooling off in the water spray zone.

Valleyview Little Animal Farm offers a wide variety of animals and birds up close, from alpacas to zebus, goats to geese. Ride the Valleyview Express, enjoy the farm playground, explore Bill’s Old Farm Museum and  watch a puppet show.

In the heart of downtown Ottawa along the Rideau Canal, Pirate Adventures a unique and unforgettable experience aboard a fifty foot pirate ship armed with 12 water cannons. Watch your child transform into a pirate with face painting tattoos and pirate gear then discover a treasure map and solve its secrets. Pirate Pete will make an appearance!

Museum Madness

Canadian Museum of Nature

Gone are the days when museums were considered the realm of the adult. Ottawa’s cultural scene offers plenty of options for children with the right blend of education and amusement through tactile experiences. At the newly renovated Canadian Museum of Nature, toddlers will get a kick out of activity stations that have levers, buttons, and nozzles galore, from the inside of a mini submarine to a supermarket cash register.

Nature lovers will also enjoy taking a tour of the animal barns at the Canada Agriculture Museum, which is part of a working farm located in the heart of the city. There’s more hands on fun to be had at the Canadian Children’s Museum geared directly to youths through a setup that embodies worldwide adventure, complete with passports they can get stamped and take home. Here, young visitors interact with exhibits that take them on a stroll through a Market Bazaar, inside an Egyptian pyramid, and into a tatami room of a Japanese home, among other international outings.

And no visit to Ottawa is complete without a trip to the Canada Science and Technology Museum for a walk through the Crazy Kitchen – a dizzying household room that has become a staple childhood experience for local kids.

Join the Party on Parliament Hill

14 Jun

© Ontario Tourism

Come celebrate Canada’s 144 birthday in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who will be visiting Ottawa on the first stop of their Royal Tour of Canada. In a previous article we highlighted some suggested activities for the royal couple to experience on their Ottawa visit. While their official itinerary is a closely guarded secret, we can update you on confirmed activities that hundreds of thousands of people will partake in this Canada Day. The stages on Parliament Hill are already being set up for this spectacular July 1st celebration.

9:00am – 11:00am

In the morning, at 9:00am, take in a truly unique musical experience; hear the 53-bell Peace Tower carillon concert. At 9:30am, witness the traditional flag-raising ceremony, and Changing the Guard, a stirring military drill, follows at 10:00am.

Noon Show
12:00pm – 1:30pm

The Noon Show will include the traditional and exciting fly-past of CF-18 fighter jets and the Snowbirds Demonstration Team. Come join in the fun with a host of great Canadian talent:

  • Great Big Sea (Newfoundland and Labrador) — Folk / rock
  • Pierre Lapointe (Quebec) — Pop
  • Florence K (Quebec) — Salsa / bossa nova
  • Sam Roberts (Quebec) — Pop / rock
  • Maria Aragon (Manitoba) — Pop
  • Corb Lund  (Alberta) — Country
  • Dan Mangan (British Columbia) — Indie rock
  • Elisapie Isaac (Nunavut) — Pop
  • Jenn Grant (Prince Edward Island) — Folk
  • Au tour de la Bolduc with Florence K (Quebec), Oumou Soumaré (New Brunswick), and Frannie and Fab of Random Recipe (Quebec) — Traditional
  • Les 7 doigts de la main (Quebec) — Circus
  • Dehli 2 Dublin (British Columbia) — World
  • Kumpa’nia (Quebec) — Drum troupe
  • Quartuor Orphée (Quebec) — String quartet
  • Soul Influence (Ontario ) — A cappella / world
  • Zogma (Quebec) Dance troupe

Afternoon Pipes and Drums on the Lawns

2:30pm and 3:30pm, Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa
3:00pm and 4:00pm, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada

Evening Show
7:00pm – 10:00pm

Rebecca Makonnen and Jian Ghomeshi will be the MCs of this big evening show, with performances by Canadian artists:

  • Great Big Sea (Newfoundland and Labrador) — Folk / rock
  • Pierre Lapointe (Quebec) — Pop
  • Florence K (Quebec) — Salsa / bossa nova
  • Sam Roberts (Quebec) — Pop / rock
  • Maria Aragon (Manitoba) — Pop
  • Corb Lund  (Alberta) — Country
  • Dan Mangan (British Columbia) — Indie rock
  • Elisapie Isaac (Nunavut) — Pop
  • Jenn Grant (Prince Edward Island) — Folk
  • Au tour de la Bolduc with Florence K (Quebec), Oumou Soumaré (New Brunswick), and Frannie and Fab of Random Recipe (Quebec) Traditional
  • Les 7 doigts de la main (Quebec) Circus
  •  Dehli 2 Dublin (British Columbia) — World
  • Kumpa’nia (Quebec) — Drum troupe
  • Quartuor Orphée (Quebec) — String quartet
  • Soul Influence (Ontario ) — A cappella / world
  • Zogma (Quebec) — Dance troupe

10:00pm (approx.) at Jacques-Cartier Park (Gatineau)

The best views of this thunderous pyrotechnics show are from Jacques-Cartier Park and the Canadian Museum of Civilization (both in Gatineau), as well as Major’s Hill Park (in Ottawa) and along the Ottawa River.

What Else Is Happening On Canada Day?

Check out the full line up of Canada Day events at venues across the region.

  • Majors Hill Park
  • Jacques Cartier Park
  • Confederation Park
  • In and Around Ottawa-Gatineau

Summer Exhibitions

8 Jun

Check out what’s happening at our national museums and galleries this summer.

National Gallery of Canada

June 17 September 11, Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada presents Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome, an ambitious exhibition on the genius of the great Caravaggio and the impact he had on his contemporaries. The exhibition brings 60 works of this genius to Canada for the first time, and marks the 400th anniversary of his death.

June 23 October 2. See Hidden Treasures at Bytown Museum. This exhibition presents 41 exceptional artifacts from the Bytown Museum’s significant historic collection, and showcases the quality of its permanent holdings.

May 20 – October 10. Japan: Tradition. Innovation at the Canadian Museum of Civilization is an exploration of the astonishing ways in which Japan’s cutting-edge technology and design are rooted in the traditions of the past. In the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, we see once again the resilient, enterprising spirit that has moved Japan beyond darkness before.

June 3 – November 6, the Canadian Museum of Nature showcases Extreme Mammals. This exhibit explores the surprising and often extraordinary world of extinct and living mammals. Find out what makes a mammal “extreme”. Learn why some species died out while others thrived. And discover what you have in common with all other mammals.

May 26 – November 13 at the Canadian War Museum. From the battlefield to rehabilitation, War and Medicine explores the uneasy and evolving relationship between warfare and the medical profession.

From May 12. Be part of the Living in Space adventure, a new permanent exhibition at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Learn how to adapt to the rigours of daily life in space for months at a time on board the International Space Station (ISS). Discover how astronauts in the weightless environment work, entertain themselves and tackle such basics as personal hygiene, eating and sleeping among the stars.

Let’s Talk Energy: Engaging Ideas for Canada’s Future is a national multi-year program (June 2011 – June 2017) exploring Canada’s energy production and consumption and the implications of greening the country’s energy network. Visit the energy exhibitions at the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation’s three national museums to learn more:

June 9, 2011 – June 2017
Energy: Power to Choose
Canada Science and Technology Museum
Produce your own electricity with the Museum’s human hamster wheel. Interact with a map of Canada that identifies locations where energy is produced and where distribution of major sources of energy takes place. You’ll be shocked to discover that one producer of energy is the Museum’s electric eel.

June 16, 2011 – June 2017
Green Skies Ahead

Canada Aviation and Space Museum
Take a tour of the innovative carbon-friendly technology that will shape commercial aviation over the next 50 years. See some of the futuristic energy-efficient aircraft designs on the drawing table today and decide if they are science or science-fiction.

July 1, 2011 – June 2017
Energy Park: Nature at Work
Canada Agriculture Museum
See renewable energy in action. Take a stroll through this outdoor park and try your hand at “harvesting” energy. See if you can beat the wind and pump water faster than a windmill!

Book your stay in Ottawa through Ottawa Tourism’s website – check out the Third Night Half Price option for even better value!

Living in Space

3 Jun

Ever wonder how astronauts live on the International Space Station?

A must see this summer and a great new addition to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum is Living in Space, created by the Canadian Space Agency and on display as a new permanent exhibition.

Living in Space exhibition

The exhibit features great hands-on interactive activities for the kids including a computerized game that lets you assemble a space meal. Place your hand on an astronaut’s hand print surrounding a giant rotating globe to learn more about them and other fun facts from space. Find out how able you would be at working in a weightless environment. Check out the various objects, replicas and components used daily by astronauts during a mission.

Fun for the family and kids of all ages.

Yummy Gooey Goodness!

2 Mar

March is maple syrup time in Canada’s Capital area, with local sugar bushes boiling down sap and serving up syrup and fun!  The Ottawa region is home to many maple syrup operations welcoming guests and groups to discover how the gooey golden syrup is made.  Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush near Carleton Place just west of the city offers a wide range of group, student and family educational programs and tours – plus plenty of syrup sampling!   Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm – also close to downtown – presents a syrup season Sunday brunch plus free tours, petting farm, wagon rides all centred around its heritage sugar shack.


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