Taking in the Historic Sights & Events in Canada’s Capital, Ottawa

Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is a must-see destination for anyone who lives elsewhere in the country. Affordable flights from Toronto to Ottawa on flyporter.com make it possible to spend time in the capital to make up for not being able to visit as often as preferred. 

There’re certainly tourist attractions including historical sights that pull in the sightseers, but historical Ottawa also has all the modern conveniences, along with many enjoyable events held throughout the year. This provides a wealth of great options for short-term visits for a few days or a couple of weeks to see the folks.

Let’s look at a few places of interest and annual events in the capital.

Visiting Ottawa

When visiting Ottawa, you’ll find that both English and French are widely spoken. Most inhabitants in the city are bilingual. 

There are different ways to get around the city. The OC Transpo Rapid Transit system is convenient with regular buses and light rail systems. Taxis and renting a car can get expensive, particularly with parking near attractions. It’s often easier to take the bus unless you’re in a hurry or have a gaggle of kids with you.

One of the best ways to see Ottawa is on foot with one of the Ottawa Walking Tours. You can see plenty of sights this way. However, if you don’t scare easily, then the Haunted Walk of Ottawa is another selection of walking tours. These are where tour guides fill visitors in on Ottawa’s interesting past along with a few supposedly haunted sights. 

Also, bear in mind the changeable seasonal weather conditions because the highs and lows – especially the lows – require warmer clothing if you want to stay comfortable during your visit. 

Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal waterway sees active boating from the early spring through to the autumn, until the canal succumbs to the chilly winter which sees it freeze over. In the warmer months, boaters can travel from Kingston in Ontario through to the capital. The 202-kilometer journey can be enjoyed either in part or in full, as it is accessible at different docks along the way. Paddlers also take advantage of the calm waters to make use of the picturesque canal at their own pace. 

In the winter months, this protected UNESCO World Heritage Site freezes over preventing travel. However, parts of it become an ice rink to try out your rusty skills in the most Canadian of sports – Ice hockey. 

Ottawa Wine and Food Festival

The Ottawa Wine and Food Festival begins on November 2nd and continues through to the 4th. It’s held at the EY Center in Ottawa. The festival is in its 33rd year and showing no signs of slowing down. 

There are over 500 exhibitors presenting annually to entertain and delight over 20,000 visitors. It’s the largest event in the city’s calendar, and it has the longest history too.

On the food side, any foodie will be extremely happy with the selection. Everything from meat delicacies to delicious chocolate treats to make the mouth water and encourage you to break your diet for 2-3 days. There are many wine stands promoting different wineries and their latest vintages. And, of course, a Cheese Vault is usually the perfect pairing. 

General admission isn’t expensive. If you want access to the wine tasting areas and other special sections, this costs extra. One point of note, if you’re planning to travel in and attend, people do dress to impress!

Upper Canada Village

The Upper Canada Village allows you to step back in time. It’s presented as a village from the 19th century. The heritage park is only a few kilometers outside of Ottawa, making it a pleasant day trip out of the city. 

Experience how life used to be. Ride on a wagon to get a feel for how bumpy long-distance transport was in days gone by. Get into the mood at the photographic studio with period costumes ready for photos to share on social media! The ride on the miniature train is fun for kids and adults alike. There’s also the family activity center to get the parents and kids involved in joint tasks. 

The period aspects shine through at Upper Canada Village with re-enactments and period staging from the 1860s. Get a real sense of how life used to be instead of just reading about it in dusty history books. 

Museums for the Historical Perspective

There are some excellent museums in Ottawa. For war buffs, the Canadian War Museum is going to be a must-see destination. It’s just outside of the downtown area, but an easy walk. The museum covers various conflicts over the centuries with the British and French, along with both World Wars, the Korean war, and subsequent activities through the UN and NATO, bringing things up to the present. 

The Canadian Museum of History is the most visited museum in Canada. It’s positioned just across the Ottawa river. Historical objects have been collected and preserved well over the centuries, which provides insight into Canada’s long history. The setting right on the river is pleasant when stepping outside the museum for a breather. Different civilisations and various cultures are explained and presented. There are different events and special exhibitions put on throughout the year, making it a good year-round attraction and one to visit when the weather is not cooperating. 

For Music Lovers

Lovers of the Blues or Jazz will find some enjoyable places to visit in the evening in Ottawa. The Rainbow in the Market and Zoe’s over at Chateau Laurier are standouts.

The Ottawa Jazz Festival is held every summer, along with the Bluesfest, which is the largest Blues-based festival in the country, although it has now expanded to include rock and pop acts too.

In the colder months, finding music venues with live bands is the best bet. 

Winterlude

After the new year has come and gone, the Winterlude comes upon the city. For kids (and big kids) that love snow and ice, the artistic sculptures made from snow and the carvings chiselled out of huge blocks of ice are something special.

The Winterlude starts on February 1st and runs for more than two weeks. Indeed, there’s is a whole calendar of different events to fill every day for almost three weeks, with a strong kids’ theme to avoid the little ones getting bored. 

If you’re wrapped up warm, the SubZero concerts are where bands go to Confederation Park and play their instruments while battling off colder temperatures. Brave souls.

The Snowflake Kingdom is a fun visit to meet the famous Ice Hog Family, the event’s mascots, and have fun at the winter-inspired playground. There are ice sculptures and funky lights to keep the kids interested.

One of the best things about visiting Ottawa is that there’s so much to see and do at any time of the year. In the spring, different venues open after a cold winter to entertain visitors. Summer time festivals make the most of the warm weather. Many venues stay open until the late fall before shutting down. However, winter brings its own set of different attractions to keep solo travelers, couples, and families busy. One thing you can say about Ottawa is that you’ll never be bored. 

Victoria Brewood
victoria@pommietravels.com

Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

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