Federal funding ensures national holidays – especially Canada Day on July 1 (w canadascapital.gc.ca) – are celebrated in style, while seasonal festivals are as lavish as any in the country. The tourist office has the full calendar of events or check out w ottawafestivals.ca. The selection below is arranged chronologically.
Jan and Feb w canadascapital.gc.ca. A snow-and-ice extravaganza spread over three weekends from late January to mid-February. Concentrated around the frozen Rideau Canal, it includes ice sculptures at Confederation Park – renamed the Crystal Garden for the duration – and snow sculptures around Dows Lake. Other events include speed-skating, bed- and dog-sled races.
Canadian Tulip Festival
Eleven days beginning in early May w tulipfestival.ca. This is the oldest of Ottawa’s festivals. It began in 1945 when the Dutch sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to the city both to honour Canadian soldiers who had liberated the Netherlands and as a thank-you for sheltering Queen Juliana, who had taken refuge in Ottawa during the war. The bulbs are planted around Parliament, along the canal and around Dows Lake, a gigantic splash of colour accompanied by concerts, parades, fireworks and a huge craft show.
Ottawa International Jazz Festival
Two weeks in late June/early July w ottawajazzfestival.com. One of Ottawa’s most popular festivals, showcasing more than four hundred musicians. The main stage is in Confederation Park with concerts several times daily. In addition, local bands play around Byward Market and at city clubs.
Twelve days in July w ottawabluesfest.ca. This is Canada’s largest festival of blues and gospel with concerts held in various venues, and free shows in Confederation Park.