Ten of the best for Ottawa in 2018

15th January 2018

2017 was an extraordinary year for Ottawa, with it playing host to the national Canada 150 celebrations. However, 2018 is also shaping up to be a year to remember, as the capital city prepares to host countless festivals, concerts and shows that will celebrate everything from food and drink to sport, music and heritage. At Ottawa Tourism we look ahead to ten of the best.


  1. WINTERLUDE 2018 marks the 40th edition of the event, when Ottawa will be transformed into an enchanting city of all things snowy and frozen. Organisers are promising a festival that will be bigger and better than ever, with some 600,000 revellers expected to descend on the Canadian capital 2 – 19 February. The bumper sized celebrations will be centred in and around three downtown locations, all of which will be free of charge to the public. winterlude.gc.ca
  1. THE GATINEAU WINTER BEERFEST Held in the Canadian Museum of History’s spectacular Grand Hall, more than 10,000 festivalgoers will attend the lively two-day event (2-3 February), during which time 35 breweries will be on site offering over 100 different types of beer to thirsty members of the public. Talented brewers from both Ontario and Quebec (and Vermont in the USA) will be on hand to showcase the capital region’s finest selection of flavours and aromas from the world of craft beer. festibiere.ca
  1. GATINEAU LOPPET The cross-country ski race is set to wow winter sports enthusiasts 16 – 18 February. The event, now celebrating its 40th edition, is the biggest race of its kind in Canada with more than 3,000 experts and amateurs expected to take part from 20 different countries. The Gatineau Loppet has its roots in the Quebec’s Lachute region but the race moved to Gatineau Park just outside Ottawa city centre in 1982. Spectators from all over the world will join in the snowy excitement, with plenty on offer to keep people of all ages and skiing abilities entertained. gatineauloppet.com 
  1. OTTAWA POUTINEFEST One of Canada’s most popular culinary creations is poutine, a hot mess of chips, gravy and squeaky cheese curds. In fact, it’s so popular that gourmet versions of the traditionally fast-food treat have popped up over the years. Ottawa PoutineFest shares some of the best with locals and visitors 27 – 29 April outside Ottawa City Hall. More than 30 purveyors of poutine will set up shop, offering over 100 different variations of the popular dish. ottawapoutinefest.ca
  1. CANADIAN TULIP FESTIVAL The 66th edition of this much-loved festival is set to take place 11 – 21 May and will transform the city into an oasis of colour. The event is the largest of its kind in the world, celebrating the beginning of spring and international friendship with the Netherlands. Over one million tulips in 50 dazzling varieties will wow half a million visitors as they blossom in public spaces across the capital – including over 250,000 in one park alone. tulipfestival.ca
  1. TD OTTAWA JAZZ FESTIVAL Returning for its 37th edition at Confederation Park and at several other venues throughout the city 21 June – 1 July. Hundreds of thousands of jazz and pop fans are expected to attend the super cool event, which will showcase a variety of home-grown and internationally acclaimed stars. Previous headliners have included Brian Wilson, Robert Plant, Willie Nelson, David Byrne and Aretha Franklin to name a few. This year’s line-up is hotly anticipated with details set to be revealed in the coming weeks. For ticket and festival information visit: ottawajazzfestival.com
  1. MUSIC AND BEYOND The summer festival features classical music from leading orchestras, choirs, bands, baroque groups and small ensembles. Now in its ninth year, Music and Beyond also plays host to the visual arts, drama, poetry recitals and art cinema. Shows, performances and screenings will take place 4 – 17 July in a variety of beautiful venues throughout Ottawa including historic churches and the spectacular Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica. musicandbeyond.ca
  1. RBC ROYAL BANK BLUESFEST Set to take place 5 – 15 July, Bluesfest is one of the largest international music events (not just the blues) in North America and, according to Billboard Magazine, is one of the top ten most successful music festivals in the world. The event attracts more than 300,000 revellers and has previously featured the likes of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Noel Gallagher, Deep Purple, Kanye West, B.B King and Lady Gaga. 2018’s headline acts will be announced in the coming weeks, stay tuned! ottawabluesfest.ca
  1. GATINEAU HOT AIR BALLOON FESTIVAL Few countries allow hot air balloons to fly directly over their Parliament, but in Canada, if the wind is blowing from the right direction, it’s encouraged at the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, known to locals as the Festival de montgolfières de Gatineau. From the 30 August – 3 September a stunning array of colourful balloons will pepper the skies above the Ottawa River, while vast crowds of spectators below look on in awe. balloongatineau.com
  1. CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ACROSS CANADA Taking place throughout the festive season each year, this is a national programme of beautiful Christmas illuminations that light up cities throughout Canada. During the festival, Ottawa and neighbouring Gatineau glow each evening as hundreds of thousands of multi-coloured lights create a fairy-tale like scene. christmaslights.gc.ca

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