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Parliament Hill

Hot Attractions: Parliament Hill

 

Mosaika lights up Parliament Hill. Photo © NCC.

Parliament Hill is one of Ottawa’s most celebrated attractions at any time of year, but during the summer months, there are even more reasons to visit. Every morning at 10am, a proud Canadian traditions unfolds: Changing the Guard sees the Ceremonial Guard of the Canadian Forces engage in a stirring military drill, with accompaniment from one of the nation’s top military marching bands. When the sun goes down, Centre Block becomes the backdrop for Mosaika, a free multimedia show that explores Canada’s culture and history through bilingual audio clips and stunning visual projections. Tie those in with a guided tour, and you can truly say you’ve experienced The Hill.

Hot Date: Canada Day

Ottawa has a reputation for hosting the best Canada Day party in the country, and this year’s celebrations do nothing to dispel those sentiments. Check out free performances by Feist, Simple Plan and Roch Voisine (to name a few); look to the skies over Jacques Cartier Park to see the SkyHawks perform a daring parachute demo; learn the ropes (literally) with a lasso demonstration at Major’s Hill Park, get up close and personal with the Grey Cup in Jacques Cartier Park; or just wander around downtown and revel in the high-energy atmosphere. As usual, the day’s festivities are capped off with a spectacular fireworks display at night.

Canada Day fireworks on Parliament Hill. Photo: NCC

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for June 29 to July 1

Friday

Chris Botti plays the Ottawa Jazz Fest on Friday.

Catch Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Chris Botti perform with the NAC Orchestra, as the TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival comes to a close this weekend. Botti, who has sold more than three million records worldwide, has performed with iconic artists such as Frank Sinatra, Sting, Andrea Bocelli, and many more.

The Unisong Canadian Choir Festival has featured over 5000 singers and 191 groups throughout its 16-year run. Presented by the Arts Bureau for the Continent, Unisong brings choristers together from across Canada during the five-day event.

Nine artists will showcase contemporary pieces in “Local Flora,” an exhibit opening this weekend at SAW Gallery. The artists, all of whom are from the Ottawa and Outaouais region, will display works in painting, photography, sculpture and video-based installation that explore how nature is interpreted through artistic expression.

Saturday

Escapade Music Festival promises to be bigger, better, and louder than ever. The two-day lineup includes live performances across three stages by artists Avicii, Eric Prydz, Afrojack, Alesso, Sander van Doorn, and many more. Partygoers will enjoy the weekend-long show at the new venue at Ottawa Stadium. (more…)

The Fairmont Château Laurier’s Centennial Celebration: What’s in Store

The historic Fairmont Château Laurier is celebrating its anniversary with a series of fun and fascinating events taking place in the coming months.

One of Ottawa’s most recognizable landmarks celebrates its 100th anniversary this spring. The Fairmont Château Laurier first opened its doors on June 12, 1912, although it was originally slated to open on April 26. An interesting fact that people might not know is that just days before the hotel’s original opening date, the man who commissioned the Château Laurier, Charles Melville Hays, died aboard the Titanic on April 15. Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, for whom the hotel was named, and who also helped the Château Laurier acquire its property, opened the hotel instead. With its prime location in the heart of the city, only steps away from Parliament Hill, the Fairmont Château Laurier has played host to a century of political deals and many of Ottawa’s visiting celebrities. From rock stars to political figures, its guest list has included Shirley Temple, Billy Bishop, Roger Moore, Bryan Adams, Nelson Mandela, and more.

In honour of this historic landmark reaching the big 100, the hotel is offering some fun events in the upcoming months: (more…)

Hot Attraction: Exploring the Stately Parliament Hill

The Hall of Honour is just one of the historic sites you'll see in guided tours of Parliament Hill. Photo credit: Copyright Library of Parliament / Mone Cheng.

Still got visitors in town? Take them to Parliament Hill for an inside look at this Canadian landmark (and iconic Ottawa site). Enjoy free guided tours of Centre Block, which is home to the Hall of Honour (featured), the Senate, the House of Commons, and the Library of Parliament. Explore the role of the country’s national legislature, as well as its rich history and architecture, and be sure sure to check out “The Games: A Moment of Pride” in the Library of Parliament. This  Olympic display showcases a pair of torches and two sets of medals that were gifted to the Canadian people to commemorate the success of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. See website for holiday schedule.

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for Aug. 26 to 28

"The Fourposter" at the Classic Theatre Festival.

Friday, Aug. 26
The Classic Theatre Festival in Perth wraps up its summer-long season this weekend with The Fourposter, a comedy about marriage by Jan de Hartog. This Tony Award-winning play follows the joys and challenges of a 35 year marriage, all the way from the nerve-wracking wedding night, to parenting (and the inevitable midlife crisis), to the realities of aging. Shows take place Friday and Saturday evening and Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

You don’t need to strap on your Birkenstocks to enjoy the Ottawa Folk Festival. This community celebration brings together a sweet mix of music, dance, and visual arts for a four-day family-friendly event. An eclectic mix of musical performances is on offer, including shows by Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, City and Colour, Serena Ryder, Hawksley Workman, The Nightwatchman (alter ego of Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine), and a variety of other acts. Bring along your own instrument and join in on organized jam sessions that range from Celtic music to African drumming. Runs Aug. 25 to 28.

This is the last day to watch the Changing the Guard ceremony, an iconic Canadian sight. Held each morning at 10am on Parliament Hill from late June to late August, this ceremony is a colourful spectacle of pomp, pageantry, and music, complete with military drills. A regimental band and pipers also perform.

Saturday, Aug. 27
The Canadian Museum of Nature throws open its doors to people and animals alike this weekend. Come meet some four-legged critters from the the Muskoka Wildlife Centre. Learn about the “extreme” features of some well-known creatures, and at the end of the 30-minute show you might even get a chance to pet one or two. Afterward, go explore the museum’s newest exhibit “Extreme Mammals,” with new-found insight about our furry friends. Takes place Saturday and Sunday. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for Aug. 19 to 21

Les 7 doigts de la main. Photo credit: Christian Tremblay.

Friday, Aug. 19
There’s no big tent, but Loft by Les 7 doigts de la main is an edgy, modern show that pulls from the best of the circus. Following the story of seven friends who take up residence in a loft to escape from the outside world, members of this collective use acrobatics, juggling, clown acts, aerial performances, poetry, and song to entertain themselves and their roommates. Music by a DJ is the backbone of the performance, with tunes that range from swing to rap to tango. On at the Casino du Lac-Leamy this Thursday and Friday and Aug. 24 to 27.

File this under “things that are really cool to watch but too scary to try” when the World Championships of Slalom Skateboarding comes to town. Slalom skateboarding involves racing down a hill on a skateboard while maneuvering between tightly placed cones. The world championships of this fast-paced sport are being held in Ottawa this year — the first time since Expo ’86 that they’re taking place on Canadian soil. More than 70 racers from 12 countries and three continents will convene in the capital to vie for the top spot in men, women, juniors, and masters classes — the latter category being for racers over 45. The event is partnered with, and will be making a donation to, United Way Ottawa. Takes place all weekend.

Make the most of the quickly dwindling summer evenings with a visit to the Ottawa Night Market. The only one of its kind in the city (this is its inaugural year, too), the market aims to promote multiculturalism by exposing visitors to the best that local businesses have to offer. Bring your appetite, as plenty of food vendors — Thai Flame, Taste of India, and My Sweet Tea, among others — will be on hand to tempt your taste buds. Visitors can also pick up some one-of-a-kind crafty creations, or just stroll along Somerset Street West, listen to some tunes, and take in the atmosphere. Takes place Friday starting at 6pm and Saturday starting at noon, with both nights running until  1am.

Saturday, Aug. 20
Adore Japanese culture? (And who doesn’t? This is, after all, the culture that brought us sushi). Then head on over to the seventh annual Japanese Summer Festival at Vincent Massey Park. The annual celebration showcases martial arts, flower arranging sessions, traditional dances, tasty food (like a hot dog with Japanese toppings!), a children’s tent with face painting, origami, and games, and a performance by Japanese pop star Blaise Plant of Monkey Majik. The pièce de résistance? It’s all free! (more…)

Hot Attraction: Sound and Light Show on Parliament Hill

Stunning visuals highlight Canada's story. Photo credit: NCC/CCN.

This summer, Parliament Hill is the site of a powerful and fascinating performance about the physical, historical, and cultural landscapes of Canada in the Sound and Light Show: Mosaika. The Peace Tower and Centre Block make a formidable projection screen at 143 metres long and six storeys high. Music, narration, and stunning visual effects outline the people, values, and achievements of our nation. Bring the whole family, a blanket or some lawn chairs, and settle in for an unforgettable journey through this free, nightly, one-of-a-kind show.

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for July 8 to 10

Friday, July 8
The second year of Music and Beyond, the new classical music and multi-disciplinary arts festival brings in the big guns: orchestras, choirs, bands, wind ensembles, recitals, and small ensembles team up to offer classical music in its many variations. Even more interesting, the fest hosts a bunch of other arts and cultural disciplines ranging from poetry to yoga to food and wine. The opening weekend kicks off with “Breaking Ground: Music by Women Composers,” a children’s “Music Adventure” at Saunders Farm with 100 dancers and artists performing outdoors, and Trevor Pinnock conducting the National Arts Centre Orchestra in the complete orchestral suites of Bach. Runs July 7 to 17.

In case you didn’t know, it’s the International Year of Chemistry, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum is celebrating with “Chemistry Uncovered,” which runs July 7 to 10. Discover the role that chemistry plays in everyday life while taking part in hands-on experiments, watching a magic show with a scientific twist, and even getting to taste liquid nitrogen ice cream (yum!). Special events include “Sweet Chemistry” on July 9 and 10 with cookbook author and scientist Christina Blais, as well as an outdoor screening on July 9 of David Cronenberg’s The Fly.

A mosaic by Alice Hinther.

Saturday, July 9
After a three-year hiatus, the lovely summer event Glebe Art in Our Gardens and Studio Tour is back. Spend a day (or two) exploring the Glebe, where 14 artists will be displaying their work in nine different gardens. Some of the works on offer include Alice Hinther’s whimsical pieces from repurposed everyday items, digital images by Jaan Krusberg, and lifelike scenes by Heather Bale. The tour is on July 9 and 10.

The Classic Theatre Festival. Photo credit: T.H. Wall.

Remember Bewitched? Well, the Classic Theatre Festival in Perth is opening its season with the play that is said to have inspired the television series (and, ultimately, the 2005 remake with Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman, for those of you who don’t remember!). First produced in 1951, the romantic comedy Bell, Book, and Candle by John van Druten continues to captivate audience with its mysterious female lead and witty quips. The play will be on July 8 to 31 from Wednesday to Sunday. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Special Canada Day Edition

In honour of Canada’s 144th birthday, we’ve rounded up an assortment of activities that get you in on the action, whether you’re looking for one day, or a whole weekend, of fun. Happy Canada Day!

Parliament Hill is just one place to celebrate Canada Day this weekend. Photo credit: NCC/CCN.

Friday, July 1
Everyone knows downtown is the place to be if you want to be in the thick of things, and everyone should experience Canada Day on the Hill at least once. Today, some of the highlights include the pageantry of the Changing of the Guard, the noon show, featuring the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, plus musical acts from across the country, and an evening show with plenty of live entertainment. Major’s Hill Park and Jacques-Cartier Park are good places to take the family, with activities that include a VIA miniature train, kite flying, an outdoor sculpture gallery, an international village, a Great Canadian Chicken BBQ, dance classes, fireworks, and — we can’t even believe we’re saying this — so much more!

Located right downtown, the National Arts Centre will be hosting an array of activities that are fun for the whole fam. If you need a breather from carousing on Parliament Hill, head here for some free fun that includes storytelling, breakdance performances by Culture Shock, music by the NAC Orchestra and 250 choiristers, plus entertainment by the Ottawa Stilt Union.

Earning a visit on the Royal Tour, you know the Canadian War Museum has serious cred. While Wills and Kate will stop by here on July 2 for a private function for veterans, there’s plenty of fun programming to be had on Canada Day for the country’s grand fete. Activities include military marches and highland tunes with the museum’s “wandering piper,” temporary tank tattoos for the kids, lectures about battlefield medicine, and more. Even better? For today only admission is free.

The National Gallery of Canada sure knows how to throw a party: Local ogranization Fresh Beat will be pumping up the jams on the plaza with techno and house music in the outdoor amphitheatre. This day of electronic music will feature well-known DJs from the region, such as Akash, Yan Larouche, Dr. Phil, Martin Diotte, Chris Falardeau, Jason Jesse, and Steve Martin. Also on site will be a barbecue and gelato, plus it’s the perfect place to grab a prime seat for the fireworks show at 10pm. (more…)

Ottawa on a Budget

Where Ottawa intern Dana Carman does a day in the city with just $30 and a sense of adventure.

In a town with a large population of students (and their visiting friends), lavish galas, gourmet restaurants, and pricey festival tickets can run a little deep in the linings of your pockets. But what is there in the capital for the purse-string-clasping visitor? Come with me on a day to see the best of Ottawa for under $30. Seriously. (more…)