• eat
  • shop
  • see
  • go
  • stay
  • daytrip
  • map
  • calendar
  • transport
  • weather
  • currency
  • tofrom

What to Do Ottawa

Ottawa Weekend Calendar for May 22 to 24

Singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman brings her solo act, The Weather Station, to the Black Sheep Inn.

Singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman brings her solo music project, The Weather Station, to the Black Sheep Inn on Friday night.

Friday, May 22

With her solo project The Weather Station, Toronto singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman composes songs with detailed, metaphorically-rich lyrics and powerful, understated melodies. She performs at the Black Sheep Inn on Friday night in support of her latest studio album, Loyalty. Tickets start at $12.

(more…)

Best of the Fests: The Canadian Tulip Festival and More

The Canadian Tulip Festival celebrates Canada's friendship with the Netherlands. On from May 8 to 18. (Photo: Sarah Fischer)

The Canadian Tulip Festival celebrates Canada’s friendship with the Netherlands. On from May 8 to 18. (Photo: Sarah Fischer)

MAY 8 TO 18 Would you believe it if we told you the Canadian Tulip Festival has its roots in World War II? It’s true: when war broke out in 1939, the Netherlands proclaimed itself neutral, refusing to take part or pick sides in the conflict. Despite this, the German army invaded in 1940, and the Dutch royal family was whisked out of the country to be sheltered in safer harbours. Queen Wilhelmina remained in the United Kingdom to rule from afar, while her eldest daughter, Princess Juliana, continued on to Canada with her family — and it was in Ottawa that she gave birth to her daughter, Princess Margriet, in 1943. To ensure that the princess retained exclusively Dutch citizenship — and, thus, her place in the line of succession to the Dutch throne — the Canadian government declared her room at the Ottawa Civic Hospital temporarily extraterritorial.

It was the beginning of a friendship between the Netherlands and Canada that continues to this day. Shortly after the end of the war, Princess Juliana sent Canadians 100,000 tulip bulbs in thanks for their hospitality, and continued to send a gift of bulbs on an annual basis.

Canadians were captivated by the thousands of colourful blooms, and so the festival has endured for more than half a century. The tulips can be seen at three major locations throughout Ottawa: Dows Lake, Major’s Hill Park, and the Olympic Garden at Lansdowne Park. They can also be seen at several sites across the river in Gatineau. No car? Don’t worry — the Tulip Shuttle transports visitors between the main sites within the city.

This year, the festival marks its 70th anniversary with a special flower-inspired fireworks show over Dows Lake on May 8,9, 15, and 16. Live music, cultural presentations, buskers, and assorted family-friendly activities round out the experience.

Visit tulipfestival.ca for more information.

Upcoming Festivals:

Festibière
MAY 29 TO 31 
Enjoy beers from more than 35 Quebec-based microbreweries — plus offerings from several Ontario breweries — at the fifth annual edition of Festibière in Jacques-Cartier Park. Star-studded musical programming, delectable food by local vendors, and activities for the whole family (think face painting, rock climbing, and an inflatable kids’ zone) mean there’s something for everyone. festibiere.ca

Magnetic North
JUNE 4 TO 13 Magnetic North travels to other Canadian cities every second year to bring thought-provoking performances to the rest of the nation. Now back in Ottawa, this year’s lineup includes a solo show by Kids in the Hall member Bruce McCulloch that blends comedy, music, and autobiographical elements. Other highlights include a plan chronicling the 18,000-year history of an Anishinaabeg First Nations family, and a humorous take on new-age medicine that’s presented as an interactive yoga class. magneticnorthfestival.ca

Edmonton's Mercury Opera performs the classic La Fiamma at Magnetic North. (Photo: Mercury Opera)

Edmonton’s Mercury Opera performs the classic La Fiamma at Magnetic North. (Photo: Mercury Opera)

Canada Dance Festival
JUNE 6 TO 13 
This year, the festival challenges our ideas of what dance can be, bringing performances by the Toronto Dance Theatre and Byron Chief Moon, as well as the Ottawa premiere of Porch View Dances. canadadance.ca

Westfest
JUNE 13 AND 14 
Richmond Road, the strip of land that’s home to trendy Westboro village, closes down for two days in this celebration of the neighbourhood’s arts community. Two Ontario folk singer-songwriters headline the festival: Sarah Harmer takes the stage on June 13 in a rare performance, while Lynn Miles closes the festival on June 14. Other attractions include buskers, food vendors, shopping, and a kids’ zone. The best part: admission is free! westfest.ca

Geeks Unite at Ottawa Comiccon

Rub elbows with celebrity guests and browse the geek market at Ottawa Comiccon.

Rub elbows with celebrity guests and browse the geek market at Ottawa Comiccon.

MAY 8 TO 10 Ottawa Comiccon is the place to be if you want to high-five Batman and rub elbows with Darth Vader. A host of celebrity guests — namely Billie Piper from Doctor Who, Lance Henriksen of Aliens, and Billy Boyd from The Lord of the Rings trilogy — are the main attraction, but you’ll also have access to loads of activities, including workshops, panels, concerts, photo ops, and tabletop games.
•EY Centre, 4899 Uplands Dr., 888-822-9221. ottawacomiccon.com

Animals Up Close at the Canadian Museum of Nature

Animal Inside Out puts on display the complex biology of various organisms.

Animal Inside Out puts on display the complex biology of various organisms.

In the late 1970s, anatomist Gunther von Hagens patented a process by which human, animal, and vegetable tissue could be preserved in their original state without decaying. The resulting specimens have been shown in exhibitions all around the world, and in Animal Inside Out, you can see for yourself the unique skeletal, vascular, and muscular systems that make up everything from squids to rabbits, caribou to giraffes, and bulls to ostriches. On at the Canadian Museum of Nature until Sept. 20.
•Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod St., 613-566-4700. nature.ca
Map and reviews

Festival Season Kicks Off with Ontario Scene

Shad

A rapper and newly-minted host of CBC’s Q, Shad performs at Ontario Scene.

 

APRIL 28 TO MAY 10 Ontario Scene is the latest addition to an ambitious festival series hosted by the National Arts Centre (NAC). With a goal of showcasing the best artists that each region of Canada has to offer, over the past 12 years the NAC has brought in artists from Atlantic Canada, Quebec, the Prairies, Alberta, British Columbia, and Canada’s North. This year, it’s Ontario’s turn. (more…)

Ottawa Weekend Calendar for April 10 to 12

Synth-pop artist Valery Gore performs at the National Arts Centre on Saturday night. (Photo: Valery Gore)

Synth-pop artist Valery Gore performs at the National Arts Centre on Saturday night. (Photo: Valery Gore)

Friday, April 10

Jane Urquhart is one of Canada’s most beloved writers, and her novels and poems touch on themes of love, loss, family attachments, art, and war. At the Writers Festival’s Literary Luncheon, Urquhart chats about her latest novel, The Night Stages, in which a woman reflects on her affair with a man obsessed by the disappearance of his brother. Tickets are $85, and includes lunch at the Metropolitain Brasserie and a signed copy of The Night Stages.

(more…)

Down the Rabbit Hole: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

The National Ballet of Canada brings Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to the capital. (Photo: Bruce Zinger)

The National Ballet of Canada brings Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the capital. (Photo: Bruce Zinger)

APRIL 9 TO 12 Using puppets, cinematic projection, and other optical illusions, the National Ballet of Canada breathes new life into Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Part of the charm of the production is its breathtaking special effects — thanks to a team of dancers (made invisible by their black leotards), the Cheshire Cat can detach its limbs and head and put them back together again.
•National Arts Centre, Southam Hall, 53 Elgin St., 866-850-2787. nac-cna.ca
Map and reviews

Windows to Memory at La Petite Mort Gallery

The Windows From Prison Project portrays locations that hold meaning to U.S. federal inmates. (Photo: Mark Strandquist, Windows From Prison Project, Courtesy of La Petite Mort Gallery)

The Windows From Prison Project portrays locations that hold meaning to U.S. federal inmates. (Photo: Mark Strandquist, Windows From Prison Project, Courtesy of La Petite Mort Gallery)

In 2012, artist Mark Strandquist embarked on a project called Windows From Prison, with a goal of showing inmates in a more humane light. He asked them one simple question: “If you could have a window in your cell, what place from your past would it look out to?” Photographers then went out to capture those places, and the resulting images — both surprising and touching — ranged from supermarkets to hallways in childhood homes. On at La Petite Mort Gallery from April 3 to 26.
•La Petite Mort Gallery, 306 Cumberland St., 613-860-1555. lapetitemortgallery.com
Map and reviews

Gerry Dee at the National Arts Centre

Stand-up comic Gerry Dee, star of the CBC show "Mr. Dee", performs at the National Arts Centre.

Stand-up comic Gerry Dee, star of the CBC show “Mr. Dee”, performs at the National Arts Centre.

MARCH 31 Prior to his career in stand-up comedy, Gerry Dee was a high school phys ed teacher. It’s an experience that is echoed in a lot of his work: in his CBC sitcom, Mr. D, he portrays a social studies teacher locked in an imaginary feud with another member of staff who is well-liked by his students. He relies on similar experiences to fuel his stand-up shows.
•National Arts Centre, Southam Hall, 53 Elgin St., 866-850-2787. nac-cna.ca
Map and reviews

M.C. Escher Distorts Reality at the National Gallery of Canada

(Photo: M.C. Escher, Relativity, July 1953, lithograph on cream laid japan paper, 39.3 x 40.3 cm; image: 27.9 x 28.9 cm, Gift of George Escher, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, 1990, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. M.C. Escher’s “Relativity” © 2014 The M.C. Escher Company-The Netherlands. All rights reserved. www.mcescher.com. Photo © NGC)

(Photo: M.C. Escher, Relativity, July 1953, lithograph on cream laid japan paper, 39.3 x 40.3 cm; image: 27.9 x 28.9 cm, Gift of George Escher, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, 1990, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. M.C. Escher’s “Relativity” © 2014 The M.C. Escher Company-The Netherlands. All rights reserved. www.mcescher.com. Photo © NGC)

Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher is one of the world’s most recognizable illustrators, and his portfolio has been influential on science, art, and pop culture. Many of his works turn perspective on its head and portray impossible realities; others play with the idea of 2-D and 3-D, sometimes combining the two into trompe l’oeil images. On at the National Gallery of Canada until May 3.
•National Gallery of Canada, 380 Sussex Dr., 613-990-1985. gallery.ca
Map and reviews

Historic Moments: Canadian Confederation at the Museum of History

Take a trip back in time and explore the events that led to Canadian Confederation. (Photos: Steven Darby, © Canadian Museum of History)

Take a trip back in time and explore the events that led to Canadian Confederation. (Photos: Steven Darby, © Canadian Museum of History)

July 1, 1867 marked the culmination of a 30-year effort to unite Canada’s colonies under one flag. 1867: Rebellion and Confederation explores the moments that led to the drafting of the British North America Act — moments of violence, negotiation, and compromise that helped lay the foundation for the Canada we know today. Using over 200 historical artifacts, the exhibition covers key events such as the Charlottetown, Quebec, and London Conferences. On at the Canadian Museum of History until January 2016.
•Canadian Museum of History, 100, rue Laurier, Gatineau, 819-776-7000. historymuseum.ca
Map and reviews

Climbing at Altitude Gym

The innovative Clip N' Climb activity space at Altitude Gym is a great place to bring the kids for spring break.

The innovative Clip N’ Climb activity space at Altitude Gym is a great place to bring the kids for spring break.

A climber’s paradise, Altitude Gym offers bouldering walls, outdoor climbing structures, and space for belaying. Plus, it boasts Clip N’ Climb, an innovative activity space that started in New Zealand that’s part climbing wall, part theme park. The brightly-coloured obstacles and climbing challenges are perfect for kids — and they’ll love dropping safely from the top of each climbing wall using the gym’s self-belaying system.
•Altitude Gym, 35, boul. Saint-Raymond, Gatineau, 819-205-0959. altitudegym.ca
Map and directions