Calling all Adventurists, Foodies, Fun-seekers, Tourists (or wanna-be tourists in your own city) OR those that are just tired of doing the same thing every weekend…..
If you’re looking to get out and enjoy Ottawa events in 2020, there’s no shortage in this, the first year of the new decade!
From festivals and cultural events to physical activities and spectator sports, there’s truly a buffet of great events in Ottawa all year long.
We’ve put together a month-by-month rundown of Ottawa events for you in our Ultimate Ottawa Bucket List.
Ottawa Events Running Throughout the Year
For year-round events or Ottawa events that run a season of several weeks or months, you’ve got a lot to choose from.
From fall through spring, you can check out NHL and OHL hockey action with the Ottawa Senators and Ottawa 67s, respectively. The Sens play out in Kanata at the CTC and these days tickets are not too tough to come by. The 67s made a great run last season to the OHL final, and have a fine tradition of junior hockey on display at TD Place Arena. Right next door is TD Place at Lansdowne Park, home of the CFL’s Ottawa RedBlacks who play on the gridiron from June through October/November.
Just because it’s cold out there in January doesn’t mean Ottawa shuts down. On the contrary! There’s lots to see and do in Ottawa in January 2020.
The world-famous Rideau Canal typically opens for skating shortly before or after New Years and often runs through February depending on weather conditions. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Canal is the World’s Longest Skating Rink and runs a great stretch from Dow’s Lake through the Glebe and into downtown up to the National Arts Centre.
Want a little more nature with your skating? Check out Patinage Au Foret across the river from Ottawa in Quebec. It’s a magical skating dreamland as you glide along a custom groomed iceway through the snow-covered woods.
January 2020 Things To Do
Ottawa’s proud winter fortitude continues into February.
The highlight by far is Winterlude, which actually starts the last weekend in January and runs through Family Day. Take your pick of activities, from ice sculptures, live music and maple taffy at Confederation Park, to skating on the Canal, to events for the whole family on the Gatineau side as well.
Another fun February event is the Dragon Ice Boat Festival. Similar to the dragon boat teams that race for charity and fun in the summertime, the Dragon Ice Boat Festival is a team event held every year in Ottawa. Check out the fun at Dow’s Lake. If you like what you see, consider joining a team next year!
February 2020 Things To Do
- TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Fest
- Beavertails Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival
- 613Flea – monthly starting in February
March is definitely a transition season in Ottawa. “In like a lion, out like a lamb” as the old saying goes. While we wouldn’t say “all bets are off” when it comes to March events, you just never know what you’re going to get with March weather in Ottawa. It could be bitter cold or warm enough to wear shorts… and those extremes could come within a couple days of each other!
If you’re a beer aficionado, you won’t want to miss Winter Brewfest. Held March 6-7 at Lansdowne Park, this Ottawa beer festival features more than 100 craft beers from across Ontario and Quebec. Now in its 6th year, Ottawa Winter Brewfest has found a fine home at the Aberdeen Pavilion and offers gourmet food as well as spirits & ciders.
Then of course, on March 17th we’ve got St. Patrick’s Day. There’s no one place to celebrate St Paddy’s in Ottawa – that’s because you can revel in the green just about anywhere in town. Live music, green beer and good fun are on tap in any pub in Ottawa, as well as a whole host of bars and restaurants.
March 2020 Things To Do
- Winter Brewfest
- St. Patrick’s Day – Various Irish Pubs
- Dining In The Dark event
April 2020 Events in Ottawa
As spring sets in and Ottawa residents begin to feel confident about shaking off the winter blues, the transition to warmer & longer days continues.
If those Ottawa March events left you yearning for more of the brew, check out PALOOZA: Beer Pong Festival on April 25. The world’s largest beer pong tournament is held at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa. They’re raising monies for local charities, so it’s good times for a great cause indeed.
Want a little snack to go with your spring? How about some of Ottawa’s other favourite food (besides shawarma, of course) – poutine! On the last weekend in April at Ottawa City Hall you can choose from one or more (the more the merrier!) of 23 great poutine vendors. How do you like your poutine? Classic? Smoked Meat? Bacon? C’mon, everybody loves bacon!
April 2020 Things To Do
- Palooza: Beer Pong Festival
- Ottawa Poutine Fest
- Women’s Show
Spring is pretty much a sure thing in May in Ottawa. That’s why May is a great time to get out there and check out all Ottawa has to offer.
Patio season in Ottawa can start as early as late March or as late as early-mid May, depending on our (rather extreme & frankly a little crazy) climate. The last melting of snow and first warm breeze is usually a harbinger of patio season, but setup and availability will vary by venue. You’ll find the biggest concentration of bar & restaurant patios in Ottawa’s ByWard Market – if one is full or not open, you’ve got dozens more to choose from.
And don’t forget another world class event in Ottawa: Tulip Festival! Ever since the Dutch presented the tulips to Ottawa as a thank to Canada’s help in the Second World War, Ottawans have been able to enjoy this magnificent event every year in May. Some years the bulbs are out early, while other years (like 2019) see a later season. Commissioner’s Park by Dow’s Lake is a major hub of activity and tulip viewing, while Major’s Hill Park and venues in Gatineau also offer their fair share of tulips.
May 2020 Things To Do
- Tulip Festival (May 8 – 18)
- Ottawa Craft Beer Festival (May 8-9)
- Start of Patio season – ByWard market
June 2020 Events in Ottawa
Is it summer? Is it really, truly summer in Ottawa? If it’s June, it’s springtime gradually turning into summer around these parts. A great time to be out and about, in and around Ottawa.
If you liked the Dragon Ice Boat Festival in February but kinda got a little chilly after a while, have no fear, the Tim Hortons Dragon Boat Festival is the summer version – in warmth on open water. Join a team or cheer one on from the shore.
A fun June weekend event in Ottawa is Glow Fair. Setting Bank Street aglow with light, music and art, this festival takes place on the weekend of June 14-15, with 10 city blocks of fun and entertainment – and it’s all FREE. There’s also good eats and refreshing beverages on offer, so don’t miss this one!
June 2020 Things To Do
July 2020 Events in Ottawa
Ahh, the heart of summer in Ottawa. You’ve earned it! From Canada Day festivities to music and more, this is when the Capital truly shines.
July 1 is Canada Day, and you can celebrate at a number of places around Ottawa. The biggest venue, of course, is Parliament Hill, with a stage full of great music, tributes and more – plus an always-amazing fireworks show after sundown. Go early and be prepared to go through security. Want to watch the fireworks from nearby? You’ve got options from the Alexandra Bridge to the Museum of Nature to rooftops and vantage points in the vicinity.
Ottawa Bluesfest takes the scene soon after, with many nights of concerts featuring some of the best music from around the world. No matter what your musical tastes, you’re sure to find something you like at Bluesfest. And now you can take the LRT to Bluesfest via nearby Pimisi station (hopefully they’ve worked out some of the bugs by then, fingers crossed).
July 2020 Things To Do
August 2020 Events in Ottawa
Summer fun continues throughout Ottawa in August. Granted it’s a popular time for a lot of folks to get out to the cottage. But if you’re in town in August and are looking for a fun event in Ottawa, you won’t have to look too far. Also don’t forget to partake in great local produce, from strawberries that you can pick to local corn you can buy at roadside stands or in the ByWard Market stalls.
Capital Pride takes place on August 1. Ottawa’s annual pride event draws participants from across the National Capital Region and all across Canada (and beyond!). From parades and music to a beer garden and community fair, Capital Pride is fun for all indeed. This festival generally runs for a whole week, though the peak is the weekend of course.
The Capital Fair runs from August 14-23. We may not have the SuperEX anymore, but the Capital Fair is a darn good time. Bring the whole family to enjoy the rides, games and eats at the midway. They’ve even got a petting zoo and a demolition derby. It all happens at the Rideau Carleton Raceway (soon to be the Hard Rock Casino Ottawa).
August 2020 Things To Do
September 2020 Events in Ottawa
Once Labour Day hits, summer begins to wane and ring in a new season: fall. But September as actually a great time to enjoy a little of both. Get in that last cottage weekend. Enjoy those warm days and cool, crisp nights beginning to set in. Spend some quality time on the patios, as those go all the way through September and typically a bit into October, though some years see cooler conditions in Ottawa.
The Carp Fair takes place the last weekend in September; this year it’s Sep 24-27. Enjoy an old-time country fair – “The Best Little Fair in Canada” as it bills itself – complete with rides, agricultural exhibits, live music and other entertainment, local food vendors and much more. Don’t forget to come here in the summer, too, for the Carp Garlic Festival.
Though not an outdoor event, Ottawa ComicCon is becoming one of the leading comic, sci-fi and anime events of its kind in Canada. Meet your favourite actors, authors, directors, producers and more. Load up on all kinds of great merch. It all goes down September 11, 12 & 13 at the EY Centre. Get your tickets for Ottawa ComicCon today and save the date!
September 2020 Things To Do
October 2020 Events in Ottawa
Catch Ottawa fall in all its finest glory in October! It’s a favourite time of year for many around here (well, summer’s hard to beat, but there sure is something special about fall). Take in the sounds of crisp leaves crushing under foot, the smell of wood burning in fireplaces & chimneys across Ottawa, the taste of apple cider and pumpkin pie.
Fall Rhapsody is the gem in Ottawa’s October event lineup. Running from the last weekend in September through mid-October, Fall Rhapsody is centered around Gatineau Park but shows up at natural and urban venues across Ottawa, the Outaouais and the National Capital Region. You can drive through Gatineau Park at your leisure or take a shuttle from downtown Ottawa. The “peak” of fall colour varies from year to year, so be sure to stay tuned to the NCC’s Fall Rhapsody website for all the latest details.
Then there’s the fall harvest. Go apple picking or pumpkin picking – or buy at local stands or farmers markets (Ottawa has several, from Westboro and Parkdale markets to Lansdowne farmer’s market and the farmer stalls at the ByWard Market. Head out to Saunders Farm for a horse-drawn wagons and hayrides, hot apple cider, a corn maze, barns and more.
October 2020 Things To Do
November 2020 Events in Ottawa
It’s back to transition for Ottawa in November, this time going from the leaves falling to the beginning of (shudder) winter. But even if the days are getting shorter and cooler, there’s still lots to see and do in Ottawa.
Remembrance Day takes place on November 11, honouring the fallen who gave the ultimate sacrifice for Canada’s freedom. Take in the Remembrance Day parade and commemoration on and around Parliament Hill, or go to one of many cenotaphs around Ottawa to honour the great ones with a moment of silence.
613Flea is actually held monthly. But November is a pretty good time to attend this flea market as you’re getting ready to purchase those presents – Xmas is coming soon! Held at the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park, you can time your visit to the 613flea with brunch or lunch at one of the many nearby restaurants in this bustling part of Ottawa.
November 2020 Things To Do
- Remembrance Day
December 2020 Events in Ottawa
December is the de facto start of winter in Ottawa, and the Christmas spirit fills the air as people are attending holiday parties, buying gifts for friends and family, and taking in the sounds and lights of the city.
Two big Holiday-themes events have burst onto the scene in Ottawa as of late.
The first is Glow Gardens. Held at the EY Centre, Glow Fest is a magical time for friends, couples, kids and families alike. It’s an indoor winter festival like no other, complete with interactive light gardens (a million lights!), live music & entertainment, food & drink and much more.
The Ottawa Christmas Market takes place at Lansdowne Park. It’s modeled after the European Christmas markets, with food and drink (Want some egg nog? You got it!), Xmas sweaters, merch for Xmas gifts, etc. You can time it with the Lansdowne Farmers Market going on inside the Aberdeen Pavilion – check their website for exact dates & times – and enjoy food and beverage on the premises as well as all kinds of goodies to take home and enjoy over the holidays.
December 2020 Things To Do
You Won’t Be Bored in Ottawa!
Ottawa used to get kind of a bad rap when it came to fun. It’s a government town, people would say, “there’s no fun to be had here.”
But as we’ve shown you right here, there’s plenty of fun to be had in Ottawa, with great events taking place year-round.
What’s your favourite Ottawa event?
Let us know.
And look forward to seeing you out there, Ottawa!