Late May brings Canada’s largest marathon as part of the Ottawa Race Weekend. Over the summer months, festivals abound: Doors Open Ottawa showcase heritage buildings; Italian Week; the Ottawa Fringe Festival; the TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival; the Nortel Ottawa Dragon Boat Race Festival; Cisco Systems Ottawa Bluesfest (Canada’s largest); the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival (the world’s largest); the Sound of Light fireworks festival; Ottawa Busker Festival; Ottawa GreekFest; CKCU Ottawa Folk Festival; the Central Canada Exhibition; and Pride Week.
On Parliament Hill, two free activities occur daily in the summer: the 10:00 a.m. Changing the Guard ceremony and the evening Sound and Light Show.
In the fall, the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival colours the skies; while the La Vendemmia Harvest Festival tempts visitors’ palates. The Ottawa International Animation Festival showcases artists from around the world while the Ottawa International Writers Festival provides a forum for authors’ lively debates. Fall Rhapsody celebrates the splendid autumn colours.
The capital lights up for the holidays with the Christmas Lights Across Canada program.
Lining up for Beavertails – Ottawa’s famous pastry specialty
6. What about restaurants and entertainment / nightlife areas in Ottawa?
Several neighbourhoods offer entertainment options in Ottawa. The ByWard Market is one of Ottawa’s oldest neighbourhoods and also functions as its entertainment district, with over 100 food and drink options in just a four-block-square area. Whether it’s fine dining, a good diner, a cosy bistro, or a romantic cafe, you can find it in “the Market.”
Elgin Street is another popular nightlife area, with an eclectic selection of bars, restaurants and cafes in just a few blocks. Bank Street offers three or four distinct areas along its length, including a popular area known as the Glebe. In the near west end, Westboro is also an attractive option for dinner and drinks.
Of course, one could also choose to explore the various options at the Casino du Lac-Leamy–whether it’s gaming excitement or a show at its popular theatre or a dinner at its five-diamond restaurant Le Baccara. The region’s other five-diamond establishment (two of only 11 across Canada) is Signatures at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa.
The Canadian War Museum
7. Please give us an overview of the performing arts on offer in Ottawa.
The National Arts Centre is Canada’s premier performing arts centre, offering English and French theatre performances, dance, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Numerous smaller theatres also abound, in both English and French, including the Great Canadian Theatre Company, La Nouvelle Scene, Ottawa Little Theatre, Third Wall Theatre Company, Odyssey Theatre (offering outdoor performances next to the Rideau River), A Company of Fools, and many productions at Arts Court, a municipal facility.
From May 18 to June 11, the Cirque du Soleil will bring its production of Quidam to Ottawa. The Canada Dance Festival takes place every two years (June 2-10, 2006) in Ottawa and the Ottawa Fringe Festival (also in June) is one of the best ways to see new productions and new innovations. In
The Centrepointe Theatre in the west end offers a variety of performances, as do the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.
Larger events are usually held at Scotiabank Place and the Ottawa Civic Centre.
Only in Ottawa……
8. What are some of the shopping opportunities in Ottawa?
Some great shopping centres exist in Ottawa, including Bayshore Shopping Centre in the west end, Rideau Centre downtown, the St. Laurent Centre in the close east end, and Place d’Orleans Shopping Centre in the east end. These centres offer the best of the well-known brands.
For more eclectic offerings, the ByWard Market neighbourhood offers great fashion and housewares; as does the Glebe, Westboro, and some small towns on both the Ontario and Quebec side of the Ottawa River–inclouding Merrickville, Manotick, Perth, Chelsea and Wakefield.
The Peace Tower on Parliament Hill
9. What are the outdoor, recreational and sports opportunities in and around Ottawa?
From a professional perspective, the Ottawa Senators are particularly beloved by Ottawans, as they march to a Stanley Cup victory! The Ottawa ’67s offer a window to the Ontario Hockey League. The Ottawa Renegades provide Canadian Football League excitement while the Ottawa Lynx are part of baseball’s International League (they’re the Triple A farm team for the Baltimore Orioles).
But sports in Ottawa are much more participatory than that. Home to hundreds of kilometres of recreational pathways, Ottawans love to cycle, inline skate and hike. The Ottawa River offers unbelievable whitewater rafting, as well as canoe and kayak adventures for the adventurous.
The highest bungee freefall in Canada is located just north of Ottawa, just outside Gatineau Park. Year-round, Gatineau Park offers something for the outdoor lover. Whether it’s camping, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking or swimming in summer; or snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in winter, the Park is beloved by all in the region.
As proof of how diverse a destination Ottawa is, it’s the only location where you can skate on the world’s largest skating rink and play in the world’s largest beach volleyball tournament?
Ottawa Bluesfest – there is always something going on in Ottawa