Ottawa must-visit holiday attractions


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Ottawa, the capital of Canada, becomes a lively winter wonderland during the holiday season. The city undergoes a noticeable change, characterized by the smell of seasonal treats and sounds of festive cheer. Streets and landmarks throughout Ottawa light up, welcoming visitors to enjoy a mix of traditional charm and contemporary celebration. The city is home to many attractions that come alive during the holiday season, each providing a memorable experience. Meanwhile, as you look for Ottawa must-visit holiday attractions,  some of the best movers in Ottawa will be at your service to help you move to this lovely city!

Parliament Hill Lights is a festive spectacle

Parliament Hill, famous for its impressive buildings and history, lights up every Christmas with the Christmas Lights Across Canada event. This tradition, more than 30 years old, is a celebration of national unity and holiday cheer. The event features thousands of lights, carefully arranged to showcase the beauty of the Parliament buildings. Each year, the light show has a new theme, making it an exciting and unique experience. The lights usually turn on in early December, starting with a special ceremony that includes live music and a countdown.

A photo of Ottawa parliament at night
Visiting Ottawa during the holidays is not complete until you see the Parliament Hill lights

Every night, visitors can witness this amazing show, with the Gothic-revival architecture of Parliament Hill providing a beautiful backdrop. Local Ottawa teams work hard to set up this huge display, ensuring every light and wire adds to the stunning view that draws people from around the world. The Parliament Hill Christmas lights are more than just a tourist spot; they’re a beloved local tradition that brings together families, friends, and visitors in a shared moment of joy and amazement. If you are looking to move to Ottawa in time for the holiday festivities you should consider hiring local movers Ottawa residents often recommend and have them provide you with a moving quote.

Christmas Lights Across Canada event is illuminating other Ottawa attractions as well

It’s not just Parlament Hill that comes alive during the Christmas Lights Across Canada event. Important spots around the city, like Confederation Boulevard, Major’s Hill Park, and the National War Memorial, are the main attractions of this celebration. In Ottawa’s center, Confederation Boulevard becomes a bright path lined with lights, leading visitors past the city’s historical and cultural spots. Major’s Hill Park is another key location, where lit-up trees and paths make it ideal for evening walks in winter. The National War Memorial is also lit up, connecting Canada’s history with the festive season. So, you better not miss this! If you are moving to this lovely city you might benefit from the help of experienced furniture movers in Ottawa, they can make sure you move in time for the celebrations!

Discovering Ottawa’s Christmas markets

The Christmas markets in Ottawa are a real treat during the holidays, especially the Ottawa Christmas Market and Lansdowne Christmas Market. These markets bring lots of holiday spirit to the city. At the Ottawa Christmas Market at Lansdowne, you’ll find a magical setting with lights and decorations everywhere. You can wander around and see a bunch of different stalls selling all sorts of things, from handmade gifts to tasty food. Local crafters show off their skills with cool decorations, homemade candles, and warm knitted stuff that’s great for gifts.

A Christmas market stand
Christmas markets in Ottawa are a great place for families

Over at the Lansdowne Christmas Market, it’s all about celebrating our local culture and community. There’s live music with choirs and bands playing Christmas tunes, making the whole place feel really festive. If you love food, you’re in for a treat with classic holiday snacks like gingerbread, mulled wine, and roasted chestnuts. Both markets are super family-friendly, with fun stuff like cookie decorating and chances to take pictures with Santa. These Ottawa must-visit holiday attractions are going to be fun whether you are a kid or a grownup.

Skating on the Rideau Canal: one of the Ottawa must-visit holiday attractions

Ice skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa is a popular winter activity for both locals and tourists. The canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, becomes the world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink, stretching 7.8 kilometers through downtown Ottawa. This turns into a beautiful and unique place to skate, surrounded by Ottawa’s snowy scenery. The canal is usually open for skating from January to early March, weather permitting. Each year, thousands of people come to skate past historic sites and under charming bridges, enjoying a classic Canadian experience. Along the skateway, there are places to take a break and warm up with hot chocolate or try a BeaverTail, a famous local pastry.

People skating on a frozen river enjoying many Ottawa must-visit holiday attractions
During the winter months, Rideau Canal freezes and becomes one of the Ottawa must-visit holiday attractions

If you don’t have skates, you can rent them at various points along the canal, so everyone can join in. The Rideau Canal Skateway also features many winter events and activities, like Winterlude, Ottawa’s winter festival. Skating here is more than just a sport; it’s a way to celebrate winter, enjoy some of the Ottawa must-visit holiday attractions, and make lasting memories. It’s a special way for families, couples, and individuals to experience Ottawa’s charm while enjoying the fresh winter air.

Outdoor skating rinks: Starlit skating experiences

In Ottawa, you can skate outdoors under the stars, which is a fantastic way to enjoy the winter. The coolest place to do this is at the Rink of Dreams at Ottawa City Hall. This rink is amazing because it has a special system that keeps the ice smooth no matter how cold it gets. Skating there feels almost magical, especially at night with the city lights and colorful lights at the rink.

A man and a child playing hockey on the street
Improvised skating rinks are commonplace in many Ottawa neighborhoods

But it’s not just about the Rink of Dreams. All over Ottawa, there are smaller rinks in neighborhoods where people come together for sports activities for kids in Ottawa. These rinks are run by local volunteers and are great for families or beginners just learning to skate. They’re also places where people play friendly hockey games or learn to skate, making them fun spots to hang out in winter. These rinks are also great for kids’ sports, like hockey and skating classes. You can feel the family vibe, with parents cheering on their kids. It’s all about having a good time, making memories, and enjoying the winter season in Ottawa.

National Gallery of Canada is Ottawa’s festive centerpiece

The National Gallery of Canada, known for its great art collection and unique architecture, really comes to life during the holidays. Inside its Great Hall, there’s an enormous Christmas tree decorated with hundreds of lights and ornaments. Each year, they decorate the tree differently, following a special theme or artistic idea, which makes it quite a sight to see. It’s a peaceful break from the busy city life and a chance to enjoy the holidays in a unique and artistic setting. The gallery’s holiday events show off Ottawa’s lively arts scene and its ability to blend culture and holiday joy.

A photo of the National Gallery of Canada- one of the Ottawa must-visit holiday attractions
The National Gallery of Canada is known for hosting holiday-themed exhibitions

During the holiday season, the gallery is more than just an art exhibit space. It turns into one of the best winter activities in Ottawa for newcomers. Visitors can join in various holiday activities like art workshops, special tours of festive artworks, and music performances that really capture the holiday spirit. These events mix the excitement of the holidays with the beauty of art, creating a memorable experience.

Alight at Night: A journey to Upper Canada Village

Just a short drive from Ottawa, you’ll find Upper Canada Village and its incredible Alight at Night festival. This festival turns the old village into a stunning scene, with nearly a million lights brightening up the area. The lights give the heritage buildings a festive look, showing what life was like in Canada in the 1800s – but with a whimsical touch. When you visit Alight at Night, it’s like stepping back in time as you wander through the lit-up village. You can take a horse-drawn wagon ride around the place, which is both fun and a bit old-fashioned.

There’s lots to do at the festival. You can warm up by big bonfires, grab some holiday snacks at the village bakery, or even shop for unique gifts at the village stores, where they sell handmade items and replicas from history. Alight at Night isn’t just a bunch of lights; it’s a full-on historical adventure that really brings a traditional Canadian Christmas to life. It’s one of the best day trips from Ottawa, giving you a chance to leave the city behind and dive into the holiday spirit in a place that feels like it’s from another time.

Taffy on snow: A sweet Canadian tradition

Taffy on snow, a delightful and quintessentially Canadian tradition, offers a unique and sweet experience during Ottawa’s winter season. This tradition, deeply rooted in Canada’s maple syrup heritage, involves pouring hot, boiled maple syrup onto fresh, clean snow, where it quickly hardens to form a chewy candy. This simple yet fascinating process is a favorite activity at local sugar shacks around Ottawa, especially during the festive season.

Sugar shacks, often family-run and nestled in the picturesque countryside surrounding Ottawa, come alive during the winter months. Here, visitors can witness the traditional process of maple syrup production, from tapping the maple trees to boiling the sap. The highlight, of course, is the taffy on snow. Participants are often invited to roll their own taffy sticks, creating a delicious treat that is both a candy and a unique winter experience. This tradition is not only a delight for the taste buds but also an interactive and educational experience. It offers families, especially those new to Ottawa, an opportunity to engage in a fun, hands-on activity while learning about a significant part of Canadian culture. Taffy on snow represents a sweet slice of Canadian winter, making it a must-try for those exploring the hidden gems after moving to Ottawa.

Canadian Museum of History is also one of Ottawa must-visit holiday attractions

The Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, near Ottawa, is a great place to visit during the holidays. It’s known for its cool architecture and huge collection of historical items. During this time, the museum really gets into the holiday spirit, showing off Canada’s history and the different cultures that make it special. They put on a bunch of holiday-themed events and exhibits. You might see old artifacts about how Canadians have celebrated winter holidays or new takes on traditional holiday stuff. They also have live music and dance that showcase the traditions of Indigenous peoples in Canada and those brought by immigrants.

A couple sitting on a bench and looking at paintings
For those looking to learn more Canadian Museum of History is one of the Ottawa must-visit holiday attractions

It’s a fun and educational spot for families and older folks in Ottawa. They have hands-on workshops, storytelling, and crafts that are both fun and a way to learn about different cultures. These are great for older visitors too, giving them a chance to connect with Canada’s past and have a good time during the holidays. If you are a senior interested in moving to Ottawa consider reaching out to reliable senior moves Ottawa boasts and have them handle all the hard tasks while you relax. So, the museum’s holiday events are all about celebrating Ottawa’s mix of cultures and history. It’s a cool place to check out Canada’s story, get involved in the present, and have a great holiday experience surrounded by culture and history.

The holiday season in Ottawa is sure to leave you speechless

During Ottawa’s holiday season, there’s a lot more going on than just the bright lights and festive markets. It’s really about the sense of community and happiness everyone shares. You’ll make unforgettable memories against the backdrop of the city’s beautiful winter setting. Imagine skating on the famous Rideau Canal, seeing the impressive Parliament Hill all lit up for the holidays, or taking part in cultural events at the Canadian Museum of History. Each of these Ottawa must-visit holiday attractions adds something special to Ottawa’s holiday spirit, so be sure to check them out!

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