With spring just around the corner, it’s officially that time of year when the city emerges from hibernation and undergoes a cultural renewal. After one of the snowiest winters in recent memory, it’s time to ditch that toque and embrace the warmer weather!
From outdoor festivals to premier sporting event, there are dozens of activities taking place all across Ottawa. Here are 20 ‘must-do’ things to check out this spring!
HIT UP AN OUTDOOR FESTIVAL
1) Ottawa Children’s Festival: Taking place at the LeBreton Flats Park & La Nouvelle Scène from May 10th to 14th, the annual Ottawa Children’s Festival’s celebrates the best in live performing arts for children. The only festival of its kind in Ontario, this six-day extravaganza includes a rock climbing/altitude gym, puppet and lantern workshops, an instrument petting zoo, as well as dozens of other recreational, educational and cultural activities.
2) Tulip Festival: A symbol of international friendship, the flagship Tulip Festival returns this spring with four distinct venues cross the city: the Byward Market Tulip Park, the Lansdowne Park Tulip Gallery, the Dow’s Lake/Commissioners Park, and the Garden Promenade Tulips. From May 12th to 22nd, the city springs to life with tulip art, culinary experiences, fireworks set to music, guided tours, vintage military displays – and of course millions of tulips in full bloom.
3) City of Om Yoga Festival: The City of Om Yoga Festival is an event like no other. Featuring a full day of outdoor (and indoor) yoga classes to suit all levels, spend June 3rd celebrating healthy living, environmental sustainability and community while surrounded by live music, local artisans and food vendors in Lansdowne Park.
4) Ottawa Dog Festival: Known as the best dog party in town, the Ottawa Dog Festival is a free outdoor event featuring doggy splash pools, disc and fly-ball demonstrations, food trucks, a beer lounge, and a doggy First Aid workshop. On June 10th and 11th, head to the RA Centre to watch professional pups compete, or try out the Lure Course with your own four legged friend.
5) Franco Ontarian Festival: The biggest francophone celebration in Ottawa, the Franco Ontarian Festival takes place at Major’s Hill Park from June 15th to 17th. Come out and celebrate Franco Ontarian culture in the nation’s capital region with concerts, street art, live entertainment and much more!
STIMULATE YOUR MIND
6) Ottawa Geek Market: Get your Geek on! Discover the city’s growing ‘geek’ community at the Ottawa Geek Market between March 31st and April 2nd at the Nepean Sportsplex. Featuring video and board gaming, scavenger hunts, escape rooms, cosplay and other family-friendly activities, the event promises 60+ vendor booths and a huge consignment area to find those pre-loved collectibles you’ve always wanted.
7) National Women’s Show: With more than 250 exhibits on show, you’re sure to find the best selection in the newest products and services available for women at the National Women’s Show. On April 8th and 9th, head to the Shaw Centre for all your fashion, beauty, wellness, home design, career and travel needs.
8) Nature Nocturne: For a different kind of museum experience, check out the Canadian Museum of Nature’s upcoming Nature Nocturne dance party on April 28th. Explore four floors of hands-on, interactive galleries while grooving to live music, all in a castle-like atmosphere.
9) Ottawa ComicCon: If you’re a comic book, sci-fi, fantasy, anime or gaming lover, this year’s Ottawa ComicCon is not to be missed! Stop by the EY Centre from May 12th to 14th to celebrate pop culture entertainment and meet your favourite sci-fi personalities. This year’s special guests include screen legend Adam West, director George A. Romero, and stars of the 80s Canadian cult classic Degrassi High.
10) Science Odyssey: From May 12th to 21st, enjoy more than 70 exciting exhibits and activities taking place throughout Ottawa as part of National Science and Technology Week. Science Odyssey unites researchers, teachers and students across Canada to support the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) community through hands-on experiences, conferences, talks and seminars.
CONQUER OTTAWA’S PREMIER SPORTS EVENTS
11) Ottawa Fury FC: On April 22nd cheer on the Ottawa Fury FC, Ottawa’s very own professional soccer team in their first match of the United Soccer League season against the Toronto FC II. Get in the soccer-season spirit and experience home games in the heart of the city at TD Place in Lansdowne Park.
12) Ottawa Race Weekend: Organized by Run Ottawa, Ottawa Race Weekend is Canada’s most popular multi-day running event. Join in on the fun on May 27th and 28th as 50,000 participants compete in a variety of challenging races, all of which start and end at Ottawa City Hall. The Tamarack-sponsored event includes a 1.2 km kids race, a wheelchair marathon, 2 km / 5 km / 10 km events, as well as half and full marathons.
13) Ottawa International Triathlon: On June 17th and 18th, top triathletes from Canada and around the world will make their way to the nation’s capital for the Ottawa International Triathlon. Head to Dows Lake to watch swimming, biking and running events along the National Historic sites of the Rideau Canal and the Experimental Farm.
14) Dragon Boat Festival: The twenty-fourth annual Tim Hortons Dragon Boat Festival takes place June 22nd to 25th at Mooney’s Bay Park. The action packed weekend offers non-stop racing, not to mention world class entertainment, amusement attractions, extreme sports demonstrations as well as a beach bar and children’s area. Known as North America’s largest dragon boating event with more than 200 teams, the festival attracts 5,000 paddlers and 70,000 spectators every year – and features a free four day music festival to boot!
15) Global Relay Canadian Road Championships: From June 24th to 28th, cheer on the Global Relay Canadian Road Championships as elite riders compete in races along the Ottawa River. This year’s event features para-cycling, junior and elite categories, and includes a full week of community programming to promote healthy living and active transportation.
LOAD UP ON MAPLE SYRUP, VEGGIES AND CRAFT BEER
16) Sugar Festival: Held annually since 1987, this year’s Sugar Festival offers maple syrup-themed activities for all ages. Between March 30th and April 4th, stop by the Vanier Museopark and take part in a variety of maple themed activities. From lumberjack competitions and maple tastings to jugglers and face-painters, this festival has something for everyone!
17) Sugar Lumber Fest: On April 8th, the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park will be transformed into a huge urban ‘cabane à sucre’ as part of Sugar Lumber Fest. After working up an appetite with axe throwing, log sawing and log throwing competitions, indulge in a non-traditional meal prepared by Rituel’s Chef Jean-Philippe Ménard.
18) Ottawa Veg Fest: On June 3rd and 4th, sample unique dishes by some of the city’s best vegetarian restaurants at the eight annual Ottawa Veg Fest. Held at the RA Centre, the event offers live cooking demonstrations from local and visiting chefs as well as a ‘healthy product and service’ marketplace featuring 100 vendors.
19) Gatineau Beer Fest: The seventh annual Gatineau Beer Fest will be held June 8th to 10th at the Canadian Museum of History. Featuring live music, food trucks and tasting workshops, grab a craft beer and enjoy the dozens of activities taking place during this fun-filled weekend.
20) Orléans Craft Beer Festival: Bringing together craft breweries, local food artisans and live music to the east end of the city, the inaugural Orléans Craft Beer Festival kicks off June 9th to 11th at Centrum Plaza. Sample the finest craft beer while listening to live music by DJ Devin Atherton, easy rockers Little Bones and Eric Eggleston, and Ottawa-native Ryan Macintyre.
Written by Danuta Whetton