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SPRINGTIME IN OTTAWA - A CELEBRATION OF THE SENSES
 
(2013 - Spring Issue)

Writer: LINDSAY KYTE



When it comes to things that make life just a little bit happier after a long Canadian winter, Ottawa offers an abundance of “treats for the soul.” 

This year, the Canadian Tulip Festival will bloom May 3–20, resplendent in more than a million fresh flowers—20,000 of them an annual gift from the Dutch Royal Family since the Second World War. Revelry abounds with music, pageantry, art competitions and international culture at “Tulipiazza.” As well, enjoy the Great Canadian Tulip Treasure Hunt, a Mad Hatter Tea Party on Mother’s Day, the International Pavilion, the Festival Plaza and the Tulip Promenade.

Historic Landmarks

After traipsing through the tulips, there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep. The Lord Elgin Hotel is the official founder hotel of the Canadian Tulip Festival. Located centrally in downtown Ottawa, this historic landmark hotel celebrates by displaying fresh tulips in every room and lobby and even features the flower in its upholstery. With the dignity of a hotel where the likes of Winston Churchill once visited, the Lord Elgin also prides itself on personal touches, such as its housekeeper, Caroline, who has been known to call to make sure regular guests find every detail to their liking.

No visit to Ottawa is complete without visiting the grande dame of accommodation, the Fairmont Château Laurier. Its famous afternoon tea features a cart of delicious teas to smell and taste, platters of sweet treats and toothsome savouries and a special menu for gluten-free, vegan, diabetic, raw and macrobiotic fare. Afterward, explore the lobbies of the Château with a guided tour via iPad, which fills you in on details of its fascinating history and tales of times gone by.

Next, stroll down to the ByWard Market, one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets. Here, do some delicious dining in the sun, immerse yourself in art, buy a new frock and dance the night away in some of Ottawa’s hippest nightspots. Within this area of roughly four blocks, you’ll find museums, cafés, specialty food shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants, pubs, salons and much more. The ByWard Market also features kid-friendly venues. On the streets, you never know what will make you giggle in glee—from flash mobs to surprise dance parties.

Classic Events

Then it’s time to wake up your intellect and stimulate your creativity at the Ottawa International Writers’ Festival, Canada’s largest independent literary celebration, held April 25 to 30. This festival attracts Canada’s most creative thinkers and features innovative programming from scientific discussions to poetry to foodie events.

If you’re looking for both divine and danceable, The Ottawa Chamber Music Festival offers soaring sounds in spectacular churches, along with a few surprises. Intertwined amongst traditional classical fare, highlights from recent years have included four young cellists playing 1990s grunge rock; music enhancing art as musicians perform among the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada; and flash mobs at Ottawa’s markets. A little later than spring’s first bloom, the festival runs from July 25 to August 8.

Tasty Treats

From High Tea to fine wine, Ottawa is home to two wineries located just 20 minutes from downtown. Domaine Perrault features 10 different wines and a delicious port, while Jabulani’s wines vary from the light, delicate and citrusy to the “liquid Christmas cake” of wine.

When your belly rumbles, Ottawa has eats for every taste and temptation. For a quick bite, try Stone Soup Foodworks, a food truck where the motto is “Slow Food. Fast.” Hintonburger uses fresh, local beef for its gourmet burgers. Also, Tennessey Willems restaurant offers special pizzas celebrating spring, past incarnations of which have included a fiddlehead pizza. Is French cuisine more your fancy? Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures, part of what is considered by many to be the world’s premiere culinary arts institute, brings a modern, relaxed twist to a fine-dining experience. Located in the historic Munross Mansion, just steps from the Rideau, this bistro showcases winding staircases, crystal chandeliers, a lunch menu with an outstanding selection of local, seasonal ingredients and artistic presentations. Ooh, la la!        

If maple is more your mood, Fulton’s Pancake House & Sugar Bush is well worth the gorgeous country drive. Just 40 minutes from downtown, Fulton’s offers sleigh rides, snowshoeing, Easter egg hunts, fashion shows and, of course, the magic of maple. Fulton’s serves up scrumptious meals and desserts smothered in maple syrup, takes you through the process of making sugar and taffy and offers the lush line of Maple Luscious Bath & Body products. A trip to Fulton’s is truly a feast of the magnificent maple.

Fresh Perspectives 

If culture is your craving, you may be intrigued by a traditional soapstone carving of a young man wearing sealskin and an iPod, a throat singer who beatboxes at the same time or viewing Nanook of the North complete with an improvisedjazz soundscape. From April 25 to May 4, the National Arts Centre presents Northern Scene, an event which takes traditional ideas about the North and turns them on their head. This event features more than 250 artists from Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut. Musicians, actors, dancers, writers, visual and media artists, filmmakers, storytellers and chefs will present a vast living portrait of this unique region by combining the traditional and contemporary, shaking stereotypes and celebrating new voices.

After revelling in the stories of the North, it’s time to hear what Ottawa theatre has to say. At the Great Canadian Theatre Company, The Edward Curtis Project plays until April 21, followed by Like Wolves from June 4–23. These stories of identity, haunting photography, marriage and dreams will get you laughing, thinking and considering life from new perspectives.

With your soul alight with art and culture, it’s time to put your feet up someplace special. The chic Hotel Indigo is a boutique property, which features its namesake colour in every room. Each room is designed to capture the spirit of Ottawa—dark hardwood floors, Canadian wall murals and a gorgeous lobby atrium to give patrons some sun even in the cold of winter. Guest services are exceptional. For instance, an associate once made a patron a bookmark after noticing her book marked with a tissue.

After winter’s freeze, Ottawa knows how to liven up a fresh spring breeze with the sights, sounds, tastes and smells that remind you how good it is the earth is green once again.

Travel Planner

For more information on our Canadian capital, visit ottawatourism.ca.

The restaurant and the Maple Shoppe at Fulton’s Pancake House & Sugar Bush are open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until April 21.

 
 
 
 
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