After one-and-a-half centuries, it’s Canada’s big birthday this year — and the entire country is rolling out amazing, mostly free public celebrations and special events in communities large and small. They’ll all be lavishly over-the-top, but especially meaningful in Ottawa, Ontario, the nation’s capital.
Take in a stadium concert, toast a fine dining moment 150 feet up in the air, watch lumberjacks axe throwing and log tossing, or see creative art installations at Inspiration Village. Ottawa promises an entire year of “big, bold, immersive, and transformative” events — and you’ll want to join as many as you can.
Art at Inspiration Village
Look for a collection of converted sea containers on York Street in the trendy and historic ByWard Market neighborhood. That’s Inspiration Village, a collection of edgy art installations in place 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. Check out the modern design, too, 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 Quebec-style sugar shack, sampling gourmet takes on classic staples like baked beans and molasses, double-smoked bacon, maple taffy poured hot over snow, and maple-infused salmon. Then, watch lumberjacks in action, pitting skills against each other to determine who’s best at log tossing, axe throwing, and log 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, try Canada’s Table on for size: A four-course, 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 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. It’s six days of free and ticketed sporting competitions, including performances, live music, activities, events spotlighting Canadian culture, and, of course, the November 26 uber-popular Canadian Football League (CFL) championship at TD Place Stadium.
Good vibes at the YOWttawa concert extravaganza
Though it’s all hush-hush for now, YOWttawa promises to be a huge, two-day signature music festival extravaganza put on by mega concert producers. It’ll happen at a yet-to-be-announced outdoor venue in the city, featuring renowned entertainers and a special tribute to Canada, of course. 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 Sky Lounge, a dining platform suspended 150 feet above City Hall offering memorable epicure evenings in July. Chef Stephen La Salle of new and notable feast + revel restaurant is serving two different three-course menus showcasing the best of New Canadian farm-to-table, organic, and sustainable cuisine.
Thrilling street theater at La Machine
Giant creatures — including an enormous, water-spurting spider and fire-breathing dragon — will be roaming Ottawa with free summer street performances in their North American debut. The fantastical world-famous robotic creations are made by La Machine, a production company based in Nantes, France. Check the website to find the exact locations, then watch — and listen — for them downtown in late July.
Future creativity at Kontinuum
Urban planning fan or transit geek? Find out about the new era of transportation dawning in 2018 with Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit project at Kontinuum. The underground multimedia sound-and-light presentation showing regularly from late June through September is a show-and-tell about the innovative new travel mode poised to transform Ottawa.
As you’re heading from one party to the next, keep an eye peeled for Chaudiere Falls, a city landmark, animated by light and sound in a tribute to the area’s Algonquin people.
Discover how to celebrate Canada’s 150th at the Ottawa 2017 website.