OTTAWA, Nov. 22, 2022 – It’s that time of year when the Holidays are fast approaching. The festive season comprising Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s and other holidays is a time of gift giving, family gatherings, religious services, parties, and special events. For people living in a cold city like Ottawa it’s also a time to take in the wintry beauty of nature all decked out in Holiday dazzle.
For many, the stretch between late November and early January is a shop-til-you-drop, event planning, house decorating, food preparation -palooza, generating a mix of excitement and anxiety as holiday revellers try to figure out what to wear, where to go, and what to see and do as the clock counts down to the peak period between December 25th and January 1st.
So it helps if there is a guide to sort through it all when the often dizzying array of options can feel like choice overload. As the politics get put on pause in the nation’s capital, locals and tourists alike can partake in what’s on offer.
Here are some suggestions to make merry and less weary (shopping) in Ottawa.
Ottawa Holiday Events Guide
Barenaked Ladies: Hometown Holidays –
NAC. Dec. 17
Entertainment seekers will surely want to check out the big acts coming to town, as well as local productions. There are several holiday events topping the list. Barenaked Ladies: Hometown Holidays at the National Arts Centre on Dec. 17 will showcase the JUNO Award-winning quartet performing holiday fan favourites from the Barenaked for the Holidays album. “We’re bringing Barenaked Holiday Cheer to Your Hometown!”, says BNL’s Ed Robertson. “It’s been a couple of long, cold, lonely winters, so let’s have some fun!”
Holly Cole’s Holiday Soiree –
Bronson Centre Theatre Dec. 15
For a different vibe there is Holly Cole’s Holiday Soiree at the Bronson Centre Theatre on Dec. 15. The Canadian Jazz singer has had a long and illustrious career both at home and on the international stage. In 2013 the three-time JUNO Award winner also received the highly prestigious Ella Fitzgerald Award. This award, created by the world renowned Festival International de Jazz de Montreal is annually conferred upon “A jazz singer of significant talent who has had a major impact and influence in the international scene.”
The Nutcracker performed by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens –
NAC Dec. 1- 4
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens will be performing The Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre (NAC) from Dec. 1- 4. Set to Tchaikovsky’s immortal music and featuring the NAC Orchestre, this timeless holiday classic tells the story of young Clara’s wondrous journey through a sparkling fairy tale dreamscape on Christmas Eve. Watch as the enchanted nutcracker turns into a valiant soldier to fight the treacherous Rat King. Who can ever forget the Sugar Plum Fairy as she rules over her glittering ball surrounded by angelic figures and greedy pastry chefs? The Nutcracker’s grandiose sets, gorgeous costumes and adventurous spirit all add up to a spectacular production brought to life by the magnificent dancers of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and the brilliant choreography of Fernand Nault.
Miracle on 34th Street by Mountain Community Theatre
Ottawa Little Theatre Nov. 30 – Dec. 17
Perhaps no story is more heartwarming than the classic Christmas comedy Miracle on 34th Street. The beloved 1947 20th Century Fox motion picture from the novel by Valentine Davies is being brought to the stage by Mountain Community Theatre at Ottawa Little Theatre from Nov. 30 – Dec. 17. Directed by Lisa Dunn and Josh Kemp the plot reads like a parable for our time. A Macy’s department store Santa who insists he really is Kris Kringle meets a little girl who has been taught not to believe in fantasy. The sensational case throws New York City into a tailspin, but can truth be found in a courtroom?
Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical
Trinity Presbyterian Church Dec. 7 – 10
As luck would have it a musical based on the same iconic film will be gracing another stage in Ottawa during the holidays. Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical features a book and score by Meredith Wilson and screenplay by George Seaton at Trinity Presbyterian Church from Dec. 7 – 10. This unabashed family-friendly entertainment about a single mother who has given up on romance includes time-honoured favourite songs and the holiday classic “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”. Guaranteed to melt cynical hearts …
Dean Z’s Rockin Christmas show
Theatre du Casino du Lac-Leamy, Gatineau Dec. 15 – 17
Dean Z’s Rockin Christmas show at Theatre du Casino du Lac-Leamy in Gatineau from Dec. 15 – 17 promises to rock in the season “with the most hip shakin’ Christmas songs ever made from Elvis Presley to Chuck Berry and much, much more.” It’s Rock’n’Roll, Rockabilly, and Swing with a contemporary twist. The internationally acclaimed, award-winning Elvis Tribute Artist Dean Z sings everyone’s favourite holiday hits accompanied by his high-energy 12-piece band and three female singers aka the Deltatones. Incredible lighting and multimedia ramp up the retro concert.
Santa Claus Parades near you
There are no fewer than 10 Santa Claus parades happening in the greater Ottawa area this year including: Help Santa Claus Toy Parade Ottawa, Barrhaven Santa Claus Parade, Riverside South Community Association Toy Mountain Parade, Orlean’s Santa’s Parade of Lights, and the Stittsville Parade of Lights. Santa and his reindeer are on the move so find out when and where he will be passing by your neighbourhood by consulting your local community listings.
Shopping local for the holidays
The NAC will be hosting a one day in-person Holiday craft market featuring more than 80 of Ottawa’s best makers, creators and artists for a day of shopping local for the “Holiyays” on Sunday, Nov. 27 from 11am to 5pm.
The Ottawa Christmas Market Lansdowne presented by TD will be open for five consecutive weekends from Nov. 25 – 27, Dec. 2 – 4, Dec. 9 – 11, Dec. 16 – 18 and Dec. 20 – 23. The annual Christmas market is located in the picturesque Aberdeen Square surrounded by snow-capped heritage buildings and wooden chalets. Thousands of Christmas lights and colorful decorations create a festive atmosphere accompanied by holiday entertainment. With more than 35 vendors there are lots of shopping options including holiday gifts, traditional Christmas-themed items, unique food and beverages and much more! There are also 16 days of entertainment and programming with local artists at the Casino Lac-Leamy Stage and a chance to win big on the Casino Lac-Leamy Advent Calendar. Don’t forget to visit Santa in Santa’s Workshop! For the second year in a row there will be free crafts for kids in Santa’s Workshop presented by Interac while adults and friends can enjoy Christmas cocktails with their crafting.
More Ottawa Holiday activities
If you’re looking for other holiday activities to put you in the festive spirit, consider one or more of these activities:
- Magic of Lights(link is external), Wesley Clover Park Campground, 411 Corkstown Road, November 18 to January 7
- Billings Estate’s traditional Christmas tea. Enjoy takeaway tea in the comfort of your home. Available to order with pickups on Saturdays and Sundays from December 10 through 18 between 10 am and 3 pm. Includes admission to the museum to enjoy the festive decorations.
- Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, Vintage Village of Lights. Take in more than 30,000 lights illuminating heritage and true-to-era buildings. Operating from 3 to 9 pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from December 2 to 18. Advance registration is required.
- Ottawa Christmas Market(link is external), Aberdeen Square at Lansdowne, begins with Tree lighting on November 25 at 6 pm and runs to December 23
- Christmas Lights across Canada(link is external), Parliament Hill, December 8 to January 8
by Deborah Rankin