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CAPITAL ATTRACTIONS AND CELEBRATIONS
 
(2015 - Spring/Summer Issue)

Writer: LAURA BYRNE PAQUET



If you think Ottawa begins and ends on Parliament Hill, you're in for a surprise.

This summer and fall, everyone and everything—from Kanye West to the Magna Carta—is coming to the capital. Here are just a few of the highlights.

Blockbuster Shows

The Greeks—Agamemnon to Alexander the Great brings more than 500 rare items, spanning 5,000 years of history, to the Canadian Museum of History (June 5–October 12). The same museum is also presenting Magna Carta—Law, Liberty and Legacy (June 12–July 26), celebrating one of the primary documents of modern democracy. Visitors can view a copy of the Magna Carta created in 1300.

At the National Gallery of Canada, iconic Canadian artist Alex Colville is the subject of a comprehensive retrospective (April 23–September 7). You can also see Mary Pratt: This Little Painting, focusing on one of the Canadian artist’s seminal works (April 4, 2015, to January 4, 2016), and an exhibition of 42 lithographs, Chagall’s Daphnis & Chloé, portraying the Russian-French artist’s interpretation of a timeless Greek myth (May 28–September 13).

The classical theme continues over at the Canadian War Museum, where the focus of Gladiators and the Colosseum—Death and Glory (June 13–September 6) is squarely on Rome.

At the Canadian Museum of Nature, a big attraction this summer will be Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out (May 1–September 20), which provides an unusual look at the biology and anatomy of roughly 50 animals through “plastinated” specimens.

Be a Sport

Ottawa’s sports scene is expanding yet again this year, with the launch of the Ottawa Champions Can-Am League baseball team. It joins the CFL’s Ottawa REDBLACKS, the NASL’s Ottawa Fury FC and the NHL’s Ottawa Senators to help entertain pro sports fans.

The capital is also one of six Canadian cities hosting soccer matches as part of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015. Ottawa’s games are scheduled between June 7 and 26.

If you prefer to get some exercise yourself rather than cheer others on, Ottawa abounds with options. Weather permitting on Wednesdays at noon from May until September, bring your own mat and water to a free yoga session on the lawn in front of Parliament. Several parkways throughout the region are closed to motorized vehicles but open to cyclists, inline skaters and pedestrians during Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikedays (May 17–September 6). The new Epic Indoor Bike Park is a 4,924-square-metre, year-round destination for skateboarders and cyclists. In addition, the city is home to more than 180 kilometres of recreational pathways.

Ottawa is also a popular destination for water sports. For instance, Ottawa City Rafting offers three-hour whitewater trips through Class II and Class III rapids between Britannia Park and the Canadian War Museum.

Feeling Festive

The moment the snow melts, Ottawa’s festival calendar kicks into high gear. From chamber music to rap and from dragon boating to beer, there’s a celebration for just about every taste on the city’s 2015 calendar.

In June, celebrate Italian culture during Italian Week Ottawa (June 11–21) and francophone culture at the Festival Franco-Ontarien Banque Nationale (June 11–13). Join the fun at Westfest, the neighbourhood street party that grew (June 13–14). Sample barbecue galore during Ottawa Ribfest (June 17–21) and theatre fare of all sorts at the Ottawa Fringe Festival (June 17–28). Among many other acts, catch Pink Martini or the Blind Boys of Alabama at the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival (June 18–July 1), or Hey Rosetta! or Yukon Blonde at the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival (June 25–28).

Not surprisingly, the capital pulls out all the stops each year on Canada Day (July 1). That’s just the beginning of a month of fun that includes the massive RBC Royal Bank Ottawa Bluesfest (July 8–19), where the bill encompasses everyone from Deep Purple to Kanye West. At the other end of the musical spectrum, the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival (July 23–August 6) is one of the world’s biggest such events.

Street entertainers amuse crowds downtown during Ottawa International Buskerfest (July 30–August 3). Later that month, fireworks artists from around the world set off pyrotechnics to musical scores during the Sound of Light competition (August 8–22).

The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival (September 3–7) traditionally marks the end of “summer”in the capital, but the fun isn’t over. CityFolk (formerly the Ottawa Folk Festival) moves to Lansdowne Park this year (September 16–20), and nighthawks can get their artistic fix during Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau (September 19). And why not raise a toast or two to the city during Oktoberfest Ottawa (October 1–3)?

Family Pleasures

Many family videos of the Changing of the Guard ceremony on Parliament Hill (late June through late August) show cute children eagerly imitating the red-coated members of the Ceremonial Guard. And who can blame the kids? It’s a stirring spectacle that rarely fails to move spectators.

Also on “the Hill,”the Sound and Light Show (July 10–September 12) is a fun-for-all-ages multimedia show telling tales of Canada’s history through music, sound effects and images projected on Centre Block.

Combine spectacular red uniforms, lively music and horses, and you get the RCMP Musical Ride Sunset Ceremonies (June 24–28). Come early to enjoy the face painting, petting zoo and obstacle course, and bring blankets or lawn chairs.

Travel Planner

Plan your summer capital-bound getaway at ottawatourism.ca.

 
 
 
 
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