After one-and-a-half centuries, it’s Canada’s big birthday this year, and the entire country is rolling out large, mostly-free public celebrations and special events in communities big and small. As the nation's capital, Ottawa, in Ontario, is going particularly all out to show people a good time.
Take in a stadium concert, toast a fine dining moment 150 feet (45 metres) up in the air, watch lumberjacks throw axes and toss logs, or see creative art installations at the Inspiration Village. Ottawa promises an entire year of “big, bold, immersive, and transformative” events. Ready to join in the fun?
Art at Inspiration Village
Look for a collection of converted shipping containers on York Street in trendy, historic ByWard Market. That’s the new Inspiration Village, home to edgy art installations from May to September. The artists’ enclave will double as entertainment zone, staging events, exhibits, and performances in and around the 'mini town,' each representing a Canadian province or territory. The modern design of the space comes courtesy of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
Sweet treats at Sugar Lumberfest
April’s Sugar Lumberfest is a celebration of Canadiana. First, pull up a seat at a traditional Québec-style sugar shack, sampling gourmet takes on classic staples à la baked beans and molasses, double-smoked bacon, maple taffy poured old-style over snow, and maple-infused salmon. Then, watch lumberjacks in action, pitting their skills against one another to determine who’s best at log tossing, axe throwing, and sawing. The fun unfolds at the horticulture building of Lansdowne Park. Pack your red plaid shirt!
Fine food at Canada’s Table
If you think you’ve hosted large dinner parties, check out Canada’s Table: a four-course, sit-down, long-table, all-Canadian-fare feast for 1,000 — paired with wine, of course — al fresco on Wellington Street in August. The ticketed food, wine, and hospitality showcase is a charitable fundraiser that matches 10 top local chefs, including Ottawa’s wunderboy Michael Moffat, with 10 leading Canadian kitchen talents. The backdrop is Canada’s graceful Parliament buildings, all lit up and set to music.
Catch a game at the Grey Cup Festival
Sports fan? Don’t miss November’s Grey Cup & Festival at sports and entertainment centre Lansdowne Park. It’s six days of free and ticketed sporting competitions, including the uber-popular Canadian Football League championship at TD Place Stadium, on November 26. The venue will also host performances, live music, activities, and events spotlighting Canadian traditions and culture.
Good vibes at the YOWttawa concert extravaganza
Though it’s all hush-hush for now, YOWttawa promises to be a massive two-day contemporary musical extravaganza. It’ll happen at a yet-to-be-announced outdoor venue in the city, and feature renowned entertainers as well as a special tribute to Canada. Expect multiple stages, international headliners, and homegrown Aboriginal and mainstream Canadian talent with big star power. Stay tuned and get your tickets early.
Views and food at the Sky Lounge
Take in Ottawa’s glittering cityscape from the exclusive Sky Lounge, a dining platform suspended 150 feet above City Hall. Chef Stephen La Salle is serving two different three-course menus showcasing the best of new Canadian farm-to-table, organic, and sustainable cuisine. From Quebec cheese and Aboriginal bannock bread, to Ontario and BC wines, to Labrador Tea-cured Arctic Char, Montreal bagel chips, and maple-scented butter tarts, these aren't meals to be missed.
Thrilling street theatre with La Machine
Giant creatures — including an enormous, water-spurting spider and a fire-breathing dragon — will be roaming Ottawa this summer offering quite the show in their North American debut. The fantastical, large-scale, world-famed robotic creations are made by La Machine, a production company based in Nantes, France. Check the Ottawa 2017 website to find the exact locations of these mythical machines, then watch and listen for them downtown in late July.
Futuristic creativity at Kontinuum
Urban planning fan or transit geek? Just enjoy a good show? Discover the magic of Kontinuum. From late June through September, this underground, multimedia sound-and-light presentation will highlight the innovative new transportation method poised to transform the city: Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit project.