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Ottawa – Canada’s Capital! Beautiful heritage buildings, landmarks and exciting events highlight Ottawa’s city centre, telling stories of its past, while directing Ottawa’s present and future.
While you explore Ottawa you’ll quickly notice that there are many prominent buildings that serve not only as directional landmarks, but also as important markers of history. Parliament of Canada, for example, acts as the centre-piece of Ottawa while representing the heart of the country’s democratic government. Likewise, the Rideau Canal is a brilliant waterway that cuts through Ottawa’s downtown, and has nearly two centuries of stories to share. And major events that include Canada Day celebrations on July 1st and the nightly free Sound and Light Show capsulize Canada’s history and look to its future.
Ottawa is blessed with an abundance of attractions that will enliven your visit no matter the time of year. Bask in the city’s wealth of historic landmarks — from the iconic Parliament Buildings to the Rideau Canal — all located within its downtown core; marvel at the architectural wonders that house national museums and galleries, before taking in their world-class exhibitions; and, soak in Ottawa’s natural beauty, the perfect backdrop for your next outdoor adventure.
Sound and Light Show Watch Centre Block on Parliament Hill come to life during Mosaika. This exhilarating sound and light show tells Canada’s story, a journey that takes the audience through the country’s vast landscapes and expansive cultures. Don’t miss this free, bilingual show. Presented nightly in Canada’s Capital from July 8 through September 6.
Museums & Galleries Renowned cultural institutions enlighten Ottawa’s downtown core. The myriad of museums and galleries located within a short walk or drive from Parliament Hill offer a glimpse into everything from Canada’s social and military history to astounding natural wonders and world-class art. The Canadian Museum of History and National Gallery of Canada is housed in amongst some of the most stunning architecture offering world class Canadian and international collections.
Cruise the Rideau Canal Daily sightseeing cruises operate from May until October offering visitors great views of the city from our 300 plus passenger triple deck vessel. An AudioConexus commentary delivery system will provide an educational and enthralling story of the capital city and surrounds.
Take a tour of the Parliament Buildings/Changing of the Guard The Parliament of Canada is open to visitors free of charge, seven days a week. Take a guided tour of Centre Block, attend live debates or explore the Peace Tower and Memorial Chamber. Tour length varies between 20 and 60 minutes depending on parliamentary activity. It is recommended that you arrive early to collect tour tickets Every summer morning Parliament Hill is alive with music and colourful drills. The ceremonial Changing of the Guard began as a morning routine on the Hill in 1959, and has turned into an annual tradition. This large-scale production includes a regimental band and pipers. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. each morning; however arrive about 15 minutes early to grab a spot with a great view.
Explore the Countryside If you are spending a few days here; rural Ottawa and the surrounding areas of Eastern Ontario offer fascinating and fun sites, attractions and activities. There are several routes that’ll offer you different sights and attractions, heading south and following the UNESCO World Heritage Site Rideau Canal as it winds its way out of downtown and south to small villages, towns and farmland. Or head west to Canada’s biggest theme waterpark, golf, cycling, vineyards and natural attractions at Prescott-Russell.
Shopping From large Ottawa malls to exclusive Ottawa shops and boutiques, to unique gift and souvenir stores, shopping in Ottawa is a favoured activity of visitors and residents alike. Downtown shopping provides a host of shopping opportunities, from the 150-store Rideau Centre to the boutiques and craft shops of the ByWard Market, the Downtown Rideau district, and Sparks Street – the country's first and oldest pedestrian shopping mall.
Dining The culinary scene in Ottawa has come alive in recent years, with a thriving community of Ottawa chefs and Ottawa restaurants making names for themselves both at home and abroad. As one of Ontario's designated culinary tourism destinations, the city, its restaurants and its local food producers are all working together to bring locally-grown and prepared foods to tables across the region through an initiative called Savour Ottawa. Ottawa restaurants are wonderfully diverse. In the mood for French, Italian, Chinese or seafood? Choose from scores of each.
Ottawa has perfected the festival. The city takes an inclusive approach when it comes to hosting its extraordinary festivals and events, touching on nearly every interest across the entire calendar.
Winterlude: February It all kicks off with Winterlude, North America's greatest winter festival, the first three weekends of February.
Canadian Tulip Festival: Early-Mid May Ottawa celebrates the return of warm weather as millions of tulips bloom in beds across the city making is a photographer's dream.
Ottawa International Jazz Festival: Late June Starting at the end of June, some of the world's greatest jazz acts hit the capital for a mellow and grooving start to the summer.
Canada Day: 1st July Ottawa, Canada’s Capital, is the place to be July 1 for the country’s biggest annual birthday celebration. It’s a giant patriotic party on the lawns of Parliament Hill, Major’s Hill Park, Jacques Cartier Park and on the closed streets of downtown.
RBC Royal Bank Bluefest: Early-Mid July One of the continent's most important music festivals hits the Capital in July, and has attracted acts from Van Morrison to the Black Eyed Peas.
Ottawa Wine & Food Festival: Late October – Early November The Ottawa Wine and Food Festival features a full array of wine tastings and kitchen demonstrations.
Christmas Lights Across Canada: December In December, hundreds of thousands of Christmas bulbs are alight, turning the Capital into a veritable winter wonderland.
Ottawa’s four seasons provide an exhilarating canvas of colour, beauty, and recreational activity. Temperatures can range from 33° C (91° F) in summer to –40° C (-40° F) in winter, with average summer temperatures around 20°C (68° F) and average winter temperatures around –10° C (14° F).
In summer, it is hot enough for residents to seek the nearest lake or swimming pool to cool off, while in winter, warm clothing is required.