On Monday, July 27, a free zumba class took place on the lawn in front of Canada’s Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. What better way to get some exercise than in the sunshine outside a gorgeous heritage building? Certainly, some Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers thought so. Check it out!
Ottawa throws one heck of a party each July 1. That’s Canada Day and the entire region erupts into a wild celebration of all things Canada…. There truly is no better place to be in the country on Canada Day than in Canada’s Capital Region.
A big part of the celebration is organized by the National Capital Commission, including the noon and evening shows on Parliament Hill, the massive fireworks display and fun, interactive programming in Major’s Hill Park in Ottawa and Jacques-Cartier Park in nearby Gatineau, Québec.
The NCC (as it’s known) has issued a call to artists to create some unique artwork for Major’s Hill Park for this year’s celebration. Check out the details on their website.
They’re looking for something collaborative — meaning a temporary creation that would be built or made by the artist and members of the public as the day progressed; sounds like fun!
The details of Canada Day 2012 won’t be released for a few more weeks but stay tuned — it’ll be a 145th birthday party to remember!
This weekend — May 5 and 6 — brings an opportunity for Ottawa residents and visitors alike to discover unique, intimate looks at the Ottawa region. Jane’s Walks are named after Jane Jacobs, a noted urbanist, and this year marks the 5th anniversary of these free strolls in Ottawa.
Start times run from roughly 9:00am to 3:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday and there are walks for every taste. Discover neighbourhoods like Little Italy, New Edinburgh, Vanier, Barrhaven and Manotick, among others. Stroll through Notre Dame Cemetery, the trees of the Arboretum, or you can even learn about edible weeds!
Most walks are presented in English but some are in French — and there’s even a bike tour (new this year).
Best of all — it’s free! See the full schedule here and get walking this weekend!
Ottawa is hopping as the crème-de-la-crème of the Canadian music industry descends on Canada’s capital to celebrate! The JUNO Awards were last hosted in Ottawa in 2003 but the party is bigger and better this time around.
Canadian icon William Shatner will be the host of the awards themselves on Sunday, April 1 but there are plenty of other activities — from a hockey game with musicians and former National Hockey League players to a huge autograph session to a series of concerts in great local clubs — to keep you busy. Or sit down at one of the JUNO pianos located in public places around town and regale passers-by with your talents!
No matter when you visit Ottawa, though, you should explore Ottawa’s thriving live music scene. Here are just a few venues to check out:
- Zaphod Beeblebrox (named after a character in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series) just celebrated its 20th anniversary in March 2012 and shows no signs of stopping! Owner Eugene Haslam consistently books acts before they become famous, including Ben Harper, Alanis Morissette, Ani DiFranco, Our Lady Peace, Jewel, the Dandy Warhols and more! The Rolling Stones filmed their Streets of Love video at the club in 2005.
- Pubs: Ottawa loves its pubs and most of them provide live music, often with no cover charge. The Heart & Crown in the ByWard Market neighbourhood has 7 nights a week of music while Irene’s Pub in the Glebe neighbourhood has a great Thursday night blues jam and Saturday afternoon open stage along with regular weekend shows. D’Arcy McGee’s on Sparks Street has a regular Wednesday Night Kitchen Party.
- The Elmdale Tavern in trendyWellington West neighbourhood takes its live music—and its beer—seriously. There’s something happening almost every night: from rock to folk to alternative to poetry readings to you name it!
- If you’re into blues, it’s worth the walk up the stairs to the Rainbow Bistroin the ByWard Market district. It’s a strange layout (think rustic ski chalet) for a live music club but it somehow works. All the greats have performed here and they continue to program a solid set.
- If DJs are more your thing, head down to Babylon Nightclub on Bank Street for their Friday night and Saturday night Dance Parties. Or nearby Barrymore’s Sunday night Retro 80s parties. In the ByWard Market, try the 21st century soul club that is Mercury Lounge.
- For some live jazz, head to Bank Street’s Café Paradiso or downstairs at Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro in the ByWard Market.
- For something a little edgier, you’re best at Mavericks or Café Dekcuf, both on Rideau Street. Bring your earplugs!
What are YOUR favourite places to hear music in Ottawa? Let us know in the comments below!
Unbelievably, summer has sprung early in Ottawa. Not just timid spring but full-on, t-shirt-wearing, outdoor-dining summer! The next few days will be solidly in the 20s Celsius (that’s 70s Fahrenheit) so we thought we’d celebrate with a list of some of Ottawa’s greatest patios (NOTE: we can’t guarantee they’ll all be open this week but clip and save for future reference!).
BYWARD MARKET NEIGHBOURHOOD
This is patio central. If there’s a stretch of sidewalk available in front of a restaurant, there will be a patio. Some favourites?
Romantic: The back patio at Murray Street Kitchen Wine Charcuterie is a slice of heaven. It’s sheltered from the street with interesting art and it becomes progressively shadier as the summer progresses (grapevines gradually fill in the overhangs). The Black Thorn Café on Clarence Street has a front patio that’s nice, but walk into the cobblestone courtyard and you’ll find their spacious back patio overlooks a sprightly fountain (in summer), some greenspace and the tin façade of a house mounted on the imposing stone walls of the Sussex Drive buildings.
Social: Still romantic but a bit more social are the four restaurants that share the Clarendon Courtyard behind the shops on Sussex Drive between George Street and York Street. Fine dining awaits at the hip Social, the musically diverse Black Tomato, the inventive Courtyard Restaurant and the old-school Italian Mamma Grazzi’s Kitchen.
Sunniest: The Cornerstone Bar & Grill is on the southeast corner of Clarence Street and William Street and gets tons of sun. Likewise, the Earl of Sussex patio (Sussex Drive at Murray Street) benefits from a particularly sun-filled location. You can chase the sun through about 5 different outdoor locations at the Heart & Crown pub — the Irish Village complex has an interior courtyard, sidewalk locations on Clarence and Parent and upper and lower decks overlooking Murray Street.
Best People-Watching: The Aulde Dubliner and Pour House at George Street and the William Street Mall give you a great look at the action in the neighbourhood — the Pour House in particular as it’s on the second floor (use it to gauge how long the lineup is at the nearby BeaverTails stand!). At the same corner, you can indulge in pizzas and pastas from The Grand Pizzeria and Bar while watching the world walk by. Meanwhile, Luxe Bistro at the corner of York Street and ByWard Market Square — and the Empire Grill at Clarence and Parent — are both prime people-watching spots, too.
Rooftops: You’ll love the music at the Hard Rock Café on York Street and the views from the roof of Stella Osteria on Clarence Street are impressive, too!
Elgin Street is another great nightlife area, and the patio at D’Arcy McGee’s won’t disappoint, with its million-dollar views of the National War Memorial, Fairmont Château Laurier, National Arts Centre and more. Speaking of the National Arts Centre, their Le Café dining room overlooks the Rideau Canal — perfect for a summer’s evening!
Chinatown is not known for its patios, which makes ZenKitchen‘s that much more enticing.
On Preston Street (Ottawa’s Little Italy), you can whet your whistle at another branch of the Heart & Crown or at Pub Italia – yes, an Italian-themed pub!
The New Edinburgh neighbourhood boosts a huge rooftop at the aptly-named New Edinburgh Pub or you could explore some locally brewed beers at the Clocktower Brew Pub (note: the beers are brewed at the location in the Glebe neighbourhood, which also sports a patio).
Speaking of brewpubs, you could also check out the newly opened Mill Street Brewpub just west of downtown near the Canadian War Museum or venture over to the wonderful Brasseurs du temps in Gatineau, Québec.
Wherever you go, you’ll find a welcoming patio! Share your favourites below in the Comments.
Ottawa Fashion Week takes place this weekend (February 17-19, 2012) and it is going to be awesome! The show is being held at the Westin Ottawa hotel this season, and features 18 designers — most showing for the first time in Ottawa.
Tickets are $45 for Friday and Saturday night and $55 on Sunday night. The Sunday night show includes a charity show with $10 from each ticket going to UNICEF. For those who can’t get enough fashion, the best deal is to buy a weekend pass which is $95 for all three days.
The nights are packed with entertainment. There are two intermissions during which bands will be playing and there is a Marketplace with designers selling jewellery, among them Love Montreal, Sean Ward, and Nova Design. There will also be hair and make-up touchups, cocktails and photo booths!
Slip into your stilettos and come on out for a weekend of fashion and fun!
Check the schedule: http://www.ottawafashionweek.ca/schedule-feb-new.php
Buy tickets: http://ottawafashionweek.ca/consumer.php
I have to admit, I love the Rideau Canal Skateway! I love the feeling of gliding over the ice, seeing my city from a different vantage point, sharing the joys of winter with so many other like-minded souls.
I’m not even that great a skater, but the experience is so unique, it makes me feel more graceful than I really am.
At an Ottawa Tourism Christmas party a couple years ago, we held a contest to “rap” about the Rideau Canal. I decided to write this instead, which I’ve updated and recorded here (the text is below as well).
Maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own ode to the ice….
Ode to the Rideau Canal Skateway
by Jantine Van Kregten
I slide, I glide, I wanna fly down the ice of the Rideau Canal
It’s a Canadian dream, this icicle stream that snakes through my city in a sinuous seam
As I lace up my skates, I think of the dates I’ve done this before
Alone or with friends, my experience tends to make me want more!
Push and glide, push and glide
A rhythm emerges and I’m not discouraged when I’m passed by a posse of partying youths
They laugh and they tease, they bob and they weave
Then disappear in the night, wrapped up in the flight
To a tavern or pub, a shawarma or sub
Push and glide, push and glide,
A rhythm develops, a new charm envelops when my favourite old couple comes skating my way
With an impressive grace, hand-in-hand they can trace
Perfect patterns that show how well they both know
The dips and the grooves, the roughs and the smooths.
Push and glide, push and glide
The rhythm’s extending, any misgivings ending as I get in my groove
Looking around me I see, I’m not alone in my glee
From the BeaverTail noshers to the just stand-and-watchers
There’s an active delight in this cold, starry night.
I skate for the bliss—something not to be missed—
Of cold noses and toeses, of cheeks red like roses, of what one supposes
Winter could be.
For my chilly extremities are an excuse for amenities
To be savoured with neighbours, boast of our labours, indulge in the flavours
Of our favourite bistro.
We toast to the night, the warmth and the light…. and when we just might….
Skate it again!
Check out the brilliant display of fireworks at the opening ceremonies for the annual Winterlude festival in Ottawa and Canada’s capital region! The video was shot on Friday, February 3, 2012, from just outside the Canadian Museum of Civilization, looking at the Alexandra Bridge, the glass towers of the National Gallery of Canada, the castle-like Fairmont Château Laurier, and the Gothic spires of the Canadian Parliament Buildings.
Enjoy! Winterlude continues until February 20, 2012.
So, you’re coming to Ottawa for Winterlude this February. Glad to hear it!
Especially if this is your first visit to Ottawa in the winter, we urge you to refer to this packing guide to make sure you enjoy yourselves to the fullest. Because no matter how amazing the ice sculptures, how romantic the outing on the Rideau Canal Skateway, or how slippery the ice slide at Snowflake Kingdom, you won’t have any fun at all if your feet are cold!
WINTERLUDE PACKING LIST
- A backpack: It’s great for stashing your boots while you go skating on the Rideau Canal (remember to bring a plastic bag or two to limit wetness), plus it leaves your hands free to eat a BeaverTail pastry!).
- Snacks: Raisins, chocolate, power bars—you need something to munch on to keep your energy level up while skating, snowshoeing, skiing, or just wandering around town.
- Water bottle: Even though it may be cold, you need to stay hydrated! An insulated water bottle is best.
- Indoor clothing: Bring an extra layer or two of clothing so if it’s warmer or colder than you think, you’re prepared—this is key! Thin sweaters and shirts that whisk away any moisture are the best and they pack well.
- Outdoor clothing: A warm jacket or parka is a must. Ideally, it would be a fabric that blocks the wind and repels moisture. Remember to layer in order to stay warm.
- Ski pants: For so many reasons: they block the wind and add warmth, they protect your pants from snow and slush and prevent you from getting wet and therefore colder, and best of all, they help you whizz down the ice and snow slides at Snowflake Kingdom. If you wear jeans, you’ll get stuck and that’s embarrassing!
- Accessories: A warm hat, gloves or mittens, a scarf…these are necessities. And don’t feel self-conscious—the entire city battles hat-head! The more colourful, the better!
- Footwear: Don’t skimp here! Warm socks and boots are a must (stick an extra pair of socks in your backpack). Stiletto heels just won’t cut it, either—dress for warmth and you’ll enjoy your time outdoors.
- A little cash: You’ll want to indulge in a BeaverTail pastry, hot chocolate or other treat, so keep some small bills or coins in a handy spot.
- Skates and sleighs: If you don’t bring your own pair of ice skates, you can rent some from Capital Skates at either the downtown end of the Canal near the National Arts Centre or half-way along the Canal near Fifth Avenue. Capital Skates also rents sleighs, which are perfect means of transportation for children or non-skaters, and which need to be pushed by skaters. For rates and details, visit www.capitalskates.com Rentals are also available at the Dows Lake Pavilion at the other end of the Canal.
- Bandaids: If you haven’t skated in years, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to blisters (though modern skates are MUCH more comfortable than they used to be).
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm: Think about it—the sun reflects off the snow and ice so it’s extra strong. Plus sunglasses might help you combat hat head once you move inside.
- Tissues and wipes: Cold weather often means runny noses, so you’ll appreciate a handy supply of tissues.
- Mobile phone, camera, batteries, recharger: You want to record and share these moments with your friends and followers, don’t you? Pack your smartphone and/or camera securely—and warmly—in an inside jacket pocket, not in your backpack where it might freez! Bring extra batteries as the cold sometimes drains them faster than normal usage.
- Once you’ve spent all day outside being active, you deserve a reward. Indulge in Taste of Winterlude, a series of culinary special events, including winemakers’ dinners and walkabout winter feasts (where you walk from restaurant to restaurant for each course of a multi-course meal).
- Use the SnoBus to get around. This FREE service runs every 10-20 minutes on each Saturdays and Sunday during Winterlude and connects all three official sites (along the Rideau Canal Skateway, Confederation Park in Ottawa and Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau). Look for the red and white OC Transpo buses running between Confederation Park and Dows Lake (along the Rideau Canal) from 10am to 8pm on Saturdays 10am to 5:30pm on Sundays. The blue and white STO buses run between Jacques-Cartier Park and Confederation Park on Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 5:30 pm
- There are 4 new Chalets (heated places to put on your skates or take a break) along the Rideau Canal Skateway. Some people leave their boots behind, but most people throw them in a backpack and take them along.
- There’s nothing more Canadian than standing in your skates with a BeaverTail in one hand and a hot chocolate in the other, on the Rideau Canal Skateway. Take a photo for Twitter or your Facebook page or upload a video to YouTube!
- Most women in Ottawa arrive at parties with a shoe bag. You wear your boots to get to where you’re going, then you slip on your knock-’em-dead pumps once you’re there. Practical and sexy!
If you’ve got other tips and tricks to share, mention them below!
Ottawa is buzzing with excitement waiting for the best hockey players in the National Hockey League to show off their skills during the 2012 NHL All-Star weekend!
Whether you are lucky enough to have tickets to the game itself – or the Skills Competition or the player draft – or if you’ll be watching on TV, you’ll feel the excitement in the air. Read on for a taste of local celebrations!
FAN FAIR AT THE CONVENTION CENTRE
You’ve probably heard of the Fan Fair to be held at the sexy new Ottawa Convention Centre, right downtown overlooking the Rideau Canal Skateway.
This family-friendly spot features interactive games and attractions, trophy and memorabilia displays, and special appearances. Ticketsare $10 before Jan. 25, $15 afterwards and at the door. Great food and drink includes a yummy chili bar, pulled pork nachos, designer sliders, as well as classics such as Montreal smoked meat, carved roast beef on a bun…plus it wouldn’t be a real Ottawa party without poutine!
Also worth checking out is the “outdoor patio” on Colonel By Drive, with the Molson Bar and BeaverTails stand. You might even catch a glimpse of the Stanley Cup, or see some stars of the future at the NHL Junior Skills National Championships!
RIDEAU HALL FUN
Don’t miss the Winter Celebration at Rideau Hall, the home and workplace of the Governor General of Canada, the Right Honourable David Johnston. On Saturday, January 28 between 12:30 and 4:00pm, you can experience Nordic sports and tradition through a variety of free outdoor activities, including dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating on the historic outdoor rink, and more.
From 3:00 to 5:00pm, visitors can tour the historic residence and the temporary exhibit, 75 Years of ‘GGreat’ Books: the Governor General’s Literary Awards, showcasing more than 600 works that have won the award since 1936.
At 3:00pm on the outdoor skating rink, the Governor Genearl will launch the first-ever NHL Hockey is for Everyone Program Centre in Ottawa with CBC TV’s George Stroumboulopoulos and others.
- Ottawa Walking Tours is offering a 20% discount on their Historical Highlights 2-hour walking tour on Saturday, January 28 (10:15am) for participants who wear their favourite NHL team jersey during the tour. (Discount doesn’t apply to those without jerseys.) Instead of $15, it’s $12 per person wearing a jersey. Reservations at 613-799-1774 or online are required and the deal only applies to cash purchases, not pre-paid credit card transactions. Participants must wear their NHL jersey during the tour.
- Rinaldo Hair Designers & Spa on George Street is offering a 15% discount off all spa services (excluding massage) between January 26 and 29,2012.
FOOD AND DRINK
- Are you attending the game, the Skills Competition or the Fan Fair? During All-Star weekend, show your ticket stub at the Southern Cross Grill on Queen (adjacent to the Radisson Hotel Ottawa) and everyone in your party receives appetizers for half-price or, if you’re there early, 20% off your breakfasts!
- The Honest Lawyer in the ByWard Market neighbourhood will be giving away prizes and offering drink specials during Saturday’s Skills Competition (7-9pm) and trivia prizes after the game. On Sunday, they’ll open early (at 4pm) and give out prizes for trivia and prizes after every goal –two prizes for every goal scored by an Ottawa Senators player.
- At Midway Family Fun Park, any customer who wears a Senators jersey or t-shirt is entitled to 50% off a large pizza at Max’s Bistro (January 26-29, 2012).
- Both Mambo Nuevo Latino and Kinki Asian Fusion are extending their special Winter Bites menus throughout the All-Star weekend.
- Cornerstone Bar and Grill has a series of food specials, both à la carte and table d’hôte offerings. They’re also offering drink specials.
- Buffalo wings and nachos are just some of the specials on offer at the Holiday Inn Plaza la Chaudière’s Bar des Chutes in Gatineau.
- While dining at Santé Restaurant, overlooking the corner of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive, you may very well catch a glimpse of a player or other VIP
How do you plan to spend All-Star Weekend?