Ottawa is a beautiful city with lots of green spaces and springtime is a wonderful season to enjoy them. You really can experience the great outdoors right in the heart of the city. There are some lovely gardens to discover – including the gardens at Rideau Hall, which is the Governor General’s residence, and the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park. Right downtown, Major's Hill Park offers a welcomed respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. It overlooks the Rideau Canal as it empties into the Ottawa River and Parliament Hill is mere steps away from this lush, quiet park.
Ottawa is a very walkable city with several distinct and fascinating neighbourhoods. From the ByWard Market area to the Glebe and beyond you can find boutique stores, antique shops and fabulous chef owned and operated restaurants. A terrific way to explore the city is on a gourmet walking tour with C'est Bon Epicurean Adventures. Casual, informative and with lots of chances to taste and shop along the way – these tours are a real treat
With the arrival of warm spring weather comes the promise of beautiful flowers during the Canadian Tulip Festival – and Easter and Mother’s Day are both great times to take a weekend break in Ottawa. Visit www.OttawaTourism.ca or phone 1–888–OTTAWA–8 for some great short break ideas. All the available packages offer discounted rates on attraction tickets, so not only are they easy to book – they represent great value.
In addition you can get great deals and a wide range of hotel choices as you create your own escape to Ottawa. Plus you can book a whole range of attraction tickets right on the website. Book in advance for museum admissions, spas like Holtz Spa and Nordik-Spa Nature, Ottawa Senators' NHL tickets and more!
Right now, for example, there is a Tulip Celebration Package to make it easy to book to go to Ottawa for the spring tulip season.
The Tulip Celebration package includes all this! You get hotel accommodation plus a certificate to receive a Rideau Centre Savings Directory. Then you can add any of the following attractions:
2016 marks the 71st edition of the Canadian Tulip Festival. Ottawa's tulip heritage is the result of a 1945 gift to Ottawa from Princess Juliana of the Netherlands in thanks for the safe haven the city provided the Dutch Royal Family during the Second World and the role Canadian troops played in liberating Holland during that conflict.
The tulip beds in Ottawa such as Commissioners Park are under the care of the National Capital Commission (NCC). The NCC also manages the tulip displays at Parliament Hill, along Confederation Boulevard, the historic Rideau Canal, the Capital’s scenic parkways, the recreational pathway network, and at national museums and institutions. And the NCC looks after the design and maintenance of the gardens at Canada’s Official Residences, including Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex Drive.
The Canadian Tulip Festival is a celebration of the return of spring, with over a million tulips in 50 varieties blooming in public spaces across the National Capital Region. The highest concentration of tulips can be viewed in the flower beds of Commissioners Park, on the banks of Dow’s Lake, where 300,000 flowers bloom.
The skilled gardeners who plant the bulbs are creating works of art with “messages in flowers”. So for instance the choice of colour of the blooms is very important. The gardeners of the NCC plan the tulip display to last as long as possible, and they plant a number of different varieties of tulip bulbs. Early flowering tulips usually bloom around the end of April and late flowering blooms are still creating a beautiful display until the end of May.
During the Canadian Tulip Festival, May 12 – 23, 2016, you’ll encounter pageantry, music and art throughout Ottawa’s great neighbourhoods.
There’s always something going on in Ottawa, no matter what time you visit. You can always check out the events calendar at www.ottawatourism.ca for the up to date information.
There are a number of exciting exhibitions that you can take in during your trip to Ottawa this spring.
Canadian Museum of History
Vikings (until April 17, 2016)
Experience a myth-busting exhibition that has captivated a million people around the world. Vikings lays waste to the one-dimensional stereotype of bearded barbarians with horns on their helmets. Marvel instead at a fabled Scandinavian culture of surprising refinement, complexity and achievement, and a supernatural world inhabited by Thor, Odin and other gods and giants. The truth is wonderfully revealed in this acclaimed international exhibition.
Vikings features a rich array of engaging interactive displays and 500 outstanding artifacts from The Swedish History Museum, some rarely displayed outside their homeland. See why Viking reality trumps Viking myth, horned helmets and all!
Canadian Museum of Nature
Ultimate Dinosaurs (July 11 – September 5, 2016)
See dinosaurs that you’ve never seen before. Coming in 2016, this brand new exhibit features exotic, larger dinosaurs from the Southern Hemisphere (South America, Africa and Madagascar). Discover more than 20 new full-scale and flesh-covered beasts!
Forged in Fire: The Building and Burning of Parliament (until Oct 31, 2016)
This new exhibit highlights the hundredth anniversary of the fire that destroyed Ottawa’s original Parliament Buildings on Feb. 3, 1916! All was lost during the fire except for the beautiful Library of Parliament, which was saved by solid iron doors.
Canada Aviation and Space Museum
Star Trek – The Starfleet Academy Experience (May 13-September 11, 2016)
Learn the actual science behind the science fiction in this new immersive and interactive exhibit that explains tricorders, warp drive theory, phasers and teleporters. As a Starfleet cadet, you’ll be put through a rigorous training program that looks at aspects of science, engineering, medicine and command courses. Then, after graduation, you’ll advance to the deck of an active star ship! Ottawa is the first stop on this exhibit’s multi-city North American tour.
National Gallery of Canada
Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (June 10 – September 12, 2016)
Living from 1755 to 1842, this female artist was born in Paris and became Queen Marie-Antoinette’s official portraitist. See paintings, pastels and drawings associated with feminine grace and pride. Vigée Le Brun is behind a famous portrait of the Queen surrounded by her children, which was an attempt to separate Marie-Antoinette from her extravagant, libertine-like image. Other than Ottawa, this exhibit is only being shown in Paris and New York.
There’s a year round schedule of festivals in Ottawa, bringing you music of all genres, street celebrations, multi cultural events and more! So no matter what time you visit - there is sure to be something going on. You can always check out the events calendar at www.ottawatourism.ca for the up to date information.
Ottawa also has a packed season of festivals to celebrate theh arrival of spring and to get you outdoors:
The culinary scene in Ottawa has come alive in recent years, with a thriving community of Ottawa chefs and restaurants making names for themselves both at home and abroad.
Located in the historic Sandy Hill neighbourhood in downtown Ottawa, Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute has been a driving force behind this culinary resurgence. It is the only Canadian campus of this world renowned culinary training school – and includes Signatures Restaurant where anyone can sample the delights of exceptional French cuisine.
Signatures Restaurant has a tasty, locally inspired, menu with French flare - bringing you unique culinary creations by Chef Yannick that you won't find anywhere else in Ottawa! A meal at Signatures Restaurant is a great gastronomic experience, enhanced by its setting in an historic building – what a great venue to host private groups for special occassions!
Click here for restaurant suggestions covering a number of Ottawa's lively neighbourhoods.
Click here for suggestions covering a number of Ottawa's best patios to see and be seen
As well as Ottawa’s restaurants – here are two rather different ways to enjoy the foodie scene in Ottawa. Both of these activities can be booked at weekends so you can plan them as part of a short break in the Capital.
C’est Bon Gourmet Food Tours allow you to explore Ottawa’s neighbourhood food markets, discover local produce and dishes, and meet area chefs and food artisans. Find the hidden treasures with the help of expert and insightful guides. Current tours explore Ottawa’s ByWard Market, Preston Street, Chinatown, Wellington West and the Glebe neighbourhoods, as well as Eddy Street in old Gatineau. These delightful epicurean outings last an hour and a half to two and a half hours each. They’re casual walking tours, so be sure to dress comfortably and allow for the weather.
Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute offers short cooking courses to the public ranging from half day to four days in length. Some are offered at the weekend – so this is something that a visitor to Ottawa could easily fit in as part of their stay. Though the courses are taught by the same teachers who educate the budding chefs at the Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute - everyday cooks should not be intimidated. These really are courses for everyone. Course topics include Cake Decorating, Healthy Cuisine, Knife Skills, Potatoes and Oh Chocolat amongst many others.
Of course Ottawa is an easy getaway from both Toronto and Montreal. It’s not far by car - and VIA Rail is a great option as well. Plus Porter Airlines have frequent service to Ottawa from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
To plan a trip to Ottawa visit www.OttawaTourism.ca or phone 1–888–OTTAWA–8 for some great short break ideas. All the available packages offer discounted rates on attraction admissions, passes and tickets, so not only are they easy to book – they represent great value.
Get great deals and a wide range of hotel choices as you create your own escape to Ottawa. Plus you can book a whole range of attraction admission tickets right on the website. Book in advance for museum admissions, spas like Holtz Spa and Nordik-Spa Nature, sports such as Ottawa Senators NHL tickets and culinary delights such as a meal at Signatures Restaurant at Le Cordon Bleu and C’est Bon Epicurean Adventures gourmet walking tours.
Photo credit: Nordik-Spa Nordik