By Misa Kobayashi.
While the traditional carol offers up lords-a-leaping and swans-a-swimming, we bring you 12 ideas for fun outings and events to take you through the holiday season (no partridge required).
1. HELP SANTA TOY PARADE
All the makings for a great parade are on hand: marching bands, dance troupes, clowns, and 60 floats decked out and lit up for an evening tour through the city. People are encouraged to donate new toys and cash as the procession moves along its downtown route. Nov. 19.
2. TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA
This group has earned a cult following for holiday rock operas that feature gothic instrumental tunes and a haunting fairytale narrative. With lasers and pyrotechnics, their performances have a retro vibe reminiscent of Pink Floyd and The Who, but with a Christmas twist. Nov. 23.
3. IDLE HANDS HOLIDAY CRAFT SALE
All things handmade take centre stage at this funky arts and crafts event. From unusual earrings to fun print wallets there’s something for everyone on your shopping list. We hear this year’s sale will feature local photographers, vegan baking, children’s toys, upcycled jewellery, screen printed tees, and more. Nov. 26.
4. A MIDWINTER’S DREAM TALE
This Shakespearean spoof combines two classic plays (A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Winter’s Tale). In the revamped version by A Company of Fools, two clowns names Pomme and ‘Restes are on a search for ice cream when they get lost in a winter landscape. In true Shakespearean fashion, a series of misunderstandings leads to delightful misadventures. Nov. 29 to Dec. 18.
5. CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ACROSS CANADA
Approximately 300,000 lights brighten the capital during this annual tradition, which is held across the 13 provinces and territories. Parliament Hill — as well as museums, monuments, embassies, and other landmarks — sparkle with the multicoloured lights from dusk to 2am daily. Dec. 1 to Jan. 7.
6. ALIGHT AT NIGHT
Step back in time with this festival that takes place at the 19th century style Upper Canada Village. Twinkly lights decorate heritage buildings while a multitude of holiday activities take place: explore a life-size gingerbread house, ride a toy train, take a romantic carriage ride, and enjoy plenty of food and drink. Dec. 2 to Jan. 7.
7. THE SHADOW: A CHRISTMAS MYSTERIES RADIO SHOW
This all-ages performance reenacts a popular radio mystery from the 1940s as though the show is being broadcast live. The audience plays the role of the broadcast’s studio audience, and the performance features an Andrews Sisters style of act along with swing dancers. Dec. 7 to 17.
8. CHRISTMAS TEA
Enjoy this old-fashioned tradition at the historic Billings Estate, a Victorian house that’s been transformed into a museum chronicling the lives of one of Ottawa’s founding families. Guests can take part in holiday themed crafts, self-guided tours, and, if the weather permits, a bonfire. Dec. 10 and 11.
9. HANDEL’S MESSIAH
Filled with swelling choruses, including the rousing “Hallelujah,” this traditional oratorio highlights the NAC Orchestra, a local choir, and a cast of handpicked vocalists. This is music to feed your soul at Christmastime. Dec. 13 and 14.
10. RAG & BONE: ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON
The Story of Holly and Ivy is brought to life with puppets as part of this theatre series. Enjoy the classic holiday children’s story about an orphan named Ivy who wishes for a doll and a place to go for Christmas, while a doll called Holly wishes for a child, and a policeman and his wife wish for a little girl. Dec. 16 to 18.
11. BALLET JÖRGEN: THE NUTCRACKER
The Christmas staple gets a Canadian makeover with a set that incorporates landscapes by the Group of Seven. In this version, Klara arrives in Canada and experiences a winter wonderland filled with snowflakes, lumberjacks, Mounties, and some very Canadian woodland creatures. Dec. 17 to 20.
12. BYWARD MARKET CHRISTMAS CAROLLING AND WAGON RIDES
During weekends in December, local choirs celebrate the season with good old-fashioned carolling, and horse-drawn wagon rides offer a chance to tour the historic market. After, explore the area on foot for some great eateries and independent boutiques. Until Christmas.