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Zumba on Parliament Hill in Ottawa!

1 Aug

On Monday, July 27, a free zumba class took place on the lawn in front of Canada’s Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. What better way to get some exercise than in the sunshine outside a gorgeous heritage building? Certainly, some Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers thought so. Check it out!

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WANTED: Artists on Canada Day in Ottawa!

7 May

Ottawa throws one heck of a party each July 1. That’s Canada Day and the entire region erupts into a wild celebration of all things Canada…. There truly is no better place to be in the country on Canada Day than in Canada’s Capital Region.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — aka Will and Kate — were the guests of honour at Ottawa’s Canada Day celebrations in 2011. CREDIT: Central Image Agency

A big part of the celebration is organized by the National Capital Commission, including the noon and evening shows on Parliament Hill, the massive fireworks display and fun, interactive programming in Major’s Hill Park in Ottawa and Jacques-Cartier Park in nearby Gatineau, Québec.

The NCC (as it’s known) has issued a call to artists to create some unique artwork for Major’s Hill Park for this year’s celebration. Check out the details on their website.

They’re looking for something collaborative — meaning a temporary creation that would be built or made by the artist and members of the public as the day progressed; sounds like fun!

The details of Canada Day 2012 won’t be released for a few more weeks but stay tuned — it’ll be a 145th birthday party to remember!

Jane’s Walk: intimate portraits of Ottawa

1 May

Preston Street (Ottawa's Little Italy) is just one of the neighbourhoods taking part in Jane's Walk Ottawa May 5-6.

This weekend — May 5 and 6 — brings an opportunity for Ottawa residents and visitors alike to discover unique, intimate looks at the Ottawa region. Jane’s Walks are named after Jane Jacobs, a noted urbanist, and this year marks the 5th anniversary of these free strolls in Ottawa.

Start times run from roughly 9:00am to 3:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday and there are walks for every taste. Discover neighbourhoods like Little Italy, New Edinburgh, Vanier, Barrhaven and Manotick, among others. Stroll through Notre Dame Cemetery, the trees of the Arboretum, or you can even learn about edible weeds!

Most walks are presented in English but some are in French — and there’s even a bike tour (new this year).

Best of all — it’s free! See the full schedule here and get walking this weekend!

JUNO fever hits town

30 Mar

Get out and party whenever you visit Ottawa!

Ottawa is hopping as the crème-de-la-crème of the Canadian music industry descends on Canada’s capital to celebrate! The JUNO Awards were last hosted in Ottawa in 2003 but the party is bigger and better this time around.

Canadian icon William Shatner will be the host of the awards themselves on Sunday, April 1 but there are plenty of other activities — from a hockey game with musicians and former National Hockey League players to a huge autograph session to a series of concerts in great local clubs — to keep you busy. Or sit down at one of the JUNO pianos located in public places around town and regale passers-by with your talents!

No matter when you visit Ottawa, though, you should explore Ottawa’s thriving live music scene. Here are just a few venues to check out:

  • Zaphod Beeblebrox (named after a character in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series) just celebrated its 20th anniversary in March 2012 and shows no signs of stopping! Owner Eugene Haslam consistently books acts before they become famous, including Ben Harper, Alanis Morissette, Ani DiFranco, Our Lady Peace, Jewel, the Dandy Warhols and more! The Rolling Stones filmed their Streets of Love video at the club in 2005.
  • Pubs: Ottawa loves its pubs and most of them provide live music, often with no cover charge. The Heart & Crown in the ByWard Market neighbourhood has 7 nights a week of music while Irene’s Pub in the Glebe neighbourhood has a great Thursday night blues jam and Saturday afternoon open stage along with regular weekend shows. D’Arcy McGee’s on Sparks Street has a regular Wednesday Night Kitchen Party.
  • The Elmdale Tavern in trendyWellington West neighbourhood takes its live music—and its beer—seriously. There’s something happening almost every night: from rock to folk to alternative to poetry readings to you name it!
  • If you’re into blues, it’s worth the walk up the stairs to the Rainbow Bistroin the ByWard Market district. It’s a strange layout (think rustic ski chalet) for a live music club but it somehow works. All the greats have performed here and they continue to program a solid set.

    Get your toes tappin' at these great live music venues!

  • If DJs are more your thing, head down to Babylon Nightclub on Bank Street for their Friday night and Saturday night Dance Parties. Or nearby Barrymore’s Sunday night Retro 80s parties. In the ByWard Market, try the 21st century soul club that is Mercury Lounge.
  • For some live jazz, head to Bank Street’s Café Paradiso or downstairs at Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro in the ByWard Market.
  • For something a little edgier, you’re best at Mavericks or Café Dekcuf, both on Rideau Street. Bring your earplugs!

What are YOUR favourite places to hear music in Ottawa? Let us know in the comments below!

Great Ottawa patios

19 Mar

Unbelievably, summer has sprung early in Ottawa. Not just timid spring but full-on, t-shirt-wearing, outdoor-dining summer! The next few days will be solidly in the 20s Celsius (that’s 70s Fahrenheit) so we thought we’d celebrate with a list of some of Ottawa’s greatest patios (NOTE: we can’t guarantee they’ll all be open this week but clip and save for future reference!).

BYWARD MARKET NEIGHBOURHOOD

This is patio central. If there’s a stretch of sidewalk available in front of a restaurant, there will be a patio. Some favourites?

Romantic: The back patio at Murray Street Kitchen Wine Charcuterie is a slice of heaven. It’s sheltered from the street with interesting art and it becomes progressively shadier as the summer progresses (grapevines gradually fill in the overhangs). The Black Thorn Café on Clarence Street has a front patio that’s nice, but walk into the cobblestone courtyard and you’ll find their spacious back patio overlooks a sprightly fountain (in summer), some greenspace and the tin façade of a house mounted on the imposing stone walls of the Sussex Drive buildings.

Social: Still romantic but a bit more social are the four restaurants that share the Clarendon Courtyard behind the shops on Sussex Drive between George Street and York Street. Fine dining awaits at the hip Social, the musically diverse Black Tomato, the inventive Courtyard Restaurant and the old-school Italian Mamma Grazzi’s Kitchen.

The Cornerstone's location means it gets lots of sun!

Sunniest: The Cornerstone Bar & Grill is on the southeast corner of Clarence Street and William Street and gets tons of sun. Likewise, the Earl of Sussex patio (Sussex Drive at Murray Street) benefits from a particularly sun-filled location. You can chase the sun through about 5 different outdoor locations at the Heart & Crown pub — the Irish Village complex has an interior courtyard, sidewalk locations on Clarence and Parent and upper and lower decks overlooking Murray Street.

Best People-Watching: The Aulde Dubliner and Pour House at George Street and the William Street Mall give you a great look at the action in the neighbourhood — the Pour House in particular as it’s on the second floor (use it to gauge how long the lineup is at the nearby BeaverTails stand!). At the same corner, you can indulge in pizzas and pastas from The Grand Pizzeria and Bar while watching the world walk by. Meanwhile, Luxe Bistro at the corner of York Street and ByWard Market Square — and the Empire Grill at Clarence and Parent — are both prime people-watching spots, too.

Rooftops: You’ll love the music at the Hard Rock Café on York Street and the views from the roof of Stella Osteria on Clarence Street are impressive, too!

OTHER NEIGHBOURHOODS

Elgin Street is another great nightlife area, and the patio at D’Arcy McGee’s won’t disappoint, with its million-dollar views of the National War Memorial, Fairmont Château Laurier, National Arts Centre and more. Speaking of the National Arts Centre, their Le Café dining room overlooks the Rideau Canal — perfect for a summer’s evening!

Chinatown is not known for its patios, which makes ZenKitchen‘s that much more enticing.

On Preston Street (Ottawa’s Little Italy), you can whet your whistle at another branch of the Heart & Crown or at Pub Italia — yes, an Italian-themed pub!

The New Edinburgh neighbourhood boosts a huge rooftop at the aptly-named New Edinburgh Pub or you could explore some locally brewed beers at the Clocktower Brew Pub (note: the beers are brewed at the location in the Glebe neighbourhood, which also sports a patio).

Speaking of brewpubs, you could also check out the newly opened Mill Street Brewpub just west of downtown near the Canadian War Museum or venture over to the wonderful Brasseurs du temps in Gatineau, Québec.

Wherever you go, you’ll find a welcoming patio! Share your favourites below in the Comments.

Ottawa Fashion Week struts its stuff!

15 Feb

Ottawa Fashion Week takes place this weekend (February 17-19, 2012) and it is going to be awesome! The show is being held at the Westin Ottawa hotel this season, and features 18 designers — most showing for the first time in Ottawa.

Tickets are $45 for Friday and Saturday night and $55 on Sunday night. The Sunday night show includes a charity show with $10 from each ticket going to UNICEF. For those who can’t get enough fashion, the best deal is to buy a weekend pass which is $95 for all three days.

The nights are packed with entertainment. There are two intermissions during which bands will be playing and there is a Marketplace with designers selling jewellery, among them Love Montreal, Sean Ward, and Nova Design. There will also be hair and make-up touchups, cocktails and photo booths!

Slip into your stilettos and come on out for a weekend of fashion and fun!

Check the schedule: http://www.ottawafashionweek.ca/schedule-feb-new.php

Buy tickets: http://ottawafashionweek.ca/consumer.php

Ode to the Rideau Canal Skateway

8 Feb

I have to admit, I love the Rideau Canal Skateway! I love the feeling of gliding over the ice, seeing my city from a different vantage point, sharing the joys of winter with so many other like-minded souls.

I’m not even that great a skater, but the experience is so unique, it makes me feel more graceful than I really am.

At an Ottawa Tourism Christmas party a couple years ago, we held a contest to “rap” about the Rideau Canal. I decided to write this instead, which I’ve updated and recorded here (the text is below as well).

Maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own ode to the ice….

Ode to the Rideau Canal Skateway
by Jantine Van Kregten

I slide, I glide, I wanna fly down the ice of the Rideau Canal
It’s a Canadian dream, this icicle stream that snakes through my city in a sinuous seam

As I lace up my skates, I think of the dates I’ve done this before
Alone or with friends, my experience tends to make me want more!

Push and glide, push and glide
A rhythm emerges and I’m not discouraged when I’m passed by a posse of partying youths
They laugh and they tease, they bob and they weave
Then disappear in the night, wrapped up in the flight
To a tavern or pub, a shawarma or sub

Push and glide, push and glide,
A rhythm develops, a new charm envelops when my favourite old couple comes skating my way
With an impressive grace, hand-in-hand they can trace
Perfect patterns that show how well they both know
The dips and the grooves, the roughs and the smooths.

Push and glide, push and glide
The rhythm’s extending, any misgivings ending as I get in my groove
Looking around me I see, I’m not alone in my glee
From the BeaverTail noshers to the just stand-and-watchers
There’s an active delight in this cold, starry night.

I skate for the bliss—something not to be missed—
Of cold noses and toeses, of cheeks red like roses, of what one supposes
Winter could be.

For my chilly extremities are an excuse for amenities
To be savoured with neighbours, boast of our labours, indulge in the flavours
Of our favourite bistro.

We toast to the night, the warmth and the light…. and when we just might….
Skate it again!