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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!

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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 fun during the NHL All-Star Weekend!

24 Jan

Ottawa is buzzing with excitement waiting for the best hockey players in the National Hockey League to show off their skills during the 2012 NHL All-Star weekend!

Whether you are lucky enough to have tickets to the game itself – or the Skills Competition or the player draft – or if you’ll be watching on TV, you’ll feel the excitement in the air. Read on for a taste of local celebrations!

FAN FAIR AT THE CONVENTION CENTRE

You’ve probably heard of the Fan Fair to be held at the sexy new Ottawa Convention Centre, right downtown overlooking the Rideau Canal Skateway.

This family-friendly spot features interactive games and attractions, trophy and memorabilia displays, and special appearances. Ticketsare $10 before Jan. 25, $15 afterwards and at the door. Great food and drink includes a yummy chili bar, pulled pork nachos, designer sliders, as well as classics such as Montreal smoked meat, carved roast beef on a bun…plus it wouldn’t be a real Ottawa party without poutine!

Visit the historic skating rink at Rideau Hall

Also worth checking out is the “outdoor patio” on Colonel By Drive, with the Molson Bar and BeaverTails stand. You might even catch a glimpse of the Stanley Cup, or see some stars of the future at the NHL Junior Skills National Championships!

RIDEAU HALL FUN

Don’t miss the Winter Celebration at Rideau Hall, the home and workplace of the Governor General of Canada, the Right Honourable David Johnston. On Saturday, January 28 between 12:30 and 4:00pm, you can experience Nordic sports and tradition through a variety of free outdoor activities, including dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating on the historic outdoor rink, and more.

From 3:00 to 5:00pm, visitors can tour the historic residence and the temporary exhibit, 75 Years of ‘GGreat’ Books: the Governor General’s Literary Awards, showcasing more than 600 works that have won the award since 1936.

At 3:00pm on the outdoor skating rink, the Governor Genearl will launch the first-ever NHL Hockey is for Everyone Program Centre in Ottawa with CBC TV’s George Stroumboulopoulos and others.

ACTIVITIES

  • Ottawa Walking Tours is offering a 20% discount on their Historical Highlights 2-hour walking tour on Saturday, January 28 (10:15am) for participants who wear their favourite NHL team jersey during the tour. (Discount doesn’t apply to those without jerseys.) Instead of $15, it’s $12 per person wearing a jersey. Reservations at 613-799-1774 or online are required and the deal only applies to cash purchases, not pre-paid credit card transactions. Participants must wear their NHL jersey during the tour.
  • Rinaldo Hair Designers & Spa on George Street is offering a 15% discount off all spa services (excluding massage) between January 26 and 29,2012.

FOOD AND DRINK

  • Are you attending the game, the Skills Competition or the Fan Fair? During All-Star weekend, show your ticket stub at the Southern Cross Grill on Queen (adjacent to the Radisson Hotel Ottawa)  and everyone in your party receives appetizers for half-price or, if you’re there early, 20% off your breakfasts!
  • The Honest Lawyer in the ByWard Market neighbourhood will be giving away prizes and offering drink specials during Saturday’s Skills Competition (7-9pm) and trivia prizes after the game. On Sunday, they’ll open early (at 4pm) and give out prizes for trivia and prizes after every goal –two prizes for every goal scored by an Ottawa Senators player. 
  • At Midway Family Fun Park, any customer who wears a Senators jersey or t-shirt is entitled to 50% off a large pizza at Max’s Bistro (January 26-29, 2012).
  • Both Mambo Nuevo Latino and Kinki Asian Fusion are extending their special Winter Bites menus throughout the All-Star weekend.
  • Cornerstone Bar and Grill has a series of food specials, both à la carte and table d’hôte offerings. They’re also offering drink specials.
  • Buffalo wings and nachos are just some of the specials on offer at the Holiday Inn Plaza la Chaudière’s Bar des Chutes in Gatineau.
  • While dining at Santé Restaurant, overlooking the corner of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive, you may very well catch a glimpse of a player or other VIP

How do you plan to spend All-Star Weekend?

Chris Robinson Travel Show features Ottawa Dec. 24

21 Dec

If you’re in the Toronto area, tune in to NewsTalk 1010 from 10:00 to 11:00am on Saturday, December 24 for the Chris Robinson Travel Show‘s feature on Ottawa.

You’ll learn more about the plans for Winterlude and other winter celebrations, post-Christmas shopping options, relaxing at Holtz Spa, staying at the Fairmont Château Laurier, dining at Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures, visiting the National Gallery of Canada and the Canada Aviation & Space Museum and more!

To whet your appetite, check out the video at the bottom of Chris Robinson’s homepage: http://www.chrisrobinsontravelshow.ca/

 

New Year’s Eve in Ottawa

13 Dec

Are you spending New Year’s Eve in Ottawa this year? Check below for some options to ring in 2012 in style!

Enjoy dinner at Le Café within the National Arts Centre before catching the Blue Man Group this New Year's Eve!

At the National Arts Centre, you can spend New Year’s Eve with the Blue Man Group, followed by a post-show party in the lobby. Tickets range from $55 to $135 before taxes and charges. To really splurge, sign up for the pre-show dinner at Le Café. It’s a 3-course meal with coffee, tea, and live music for $69.95 per person (plus tax and gratuity).  NOTE: Dinner tickets are only available upon purchase of show tickets.

Across the Rideau Canal from the National Arts Centre, you can celebrate the arrival of 2012 at the sexy Ottawa Convention Centre. Called Dancing in the Stars, tickets are $159 per person and include a 4-course gourment dinner with wine, champagne toast at midnight, the soul funk disco sounds of the Hammerhead and two trips available to be won.

The brand new CE Centre near the Ottawa International Airport is marking New Year’s Eve with a gala event called Timeless 2012. $50 for the party, $125 for gourmet dinner and party.

If you really want to maximize the glitz factor, consider dinner and a show at the Casino du Lac-Leamy where you can groove to the funky beats of rhythm ‘n’ blues at the Esquire Show Bar revue. Starting at 8pm, tickets are $211.22 per person (which includes tax but not service and gratuities) .

In Ottawa’s Little Italy neighbourhood — also known as Preston Street — the Sala San Marco is dishing up a gourmet, black-tie optional evening for its guests. Tickets are $150 for adults, $95 for children 12 and under. The event has sold out for the last two years and features a 40-foot midnight buffet table, party favours, a photo booth and a 12-piece band!

In the Kanata neighbourhood, you can welcome in 2012 at the contemporary Brookstreet, with a five-course dining experience with live music, from $99.95 per person.

If you just want to dance your way into the new year, consider Zaphod Beeblebrox in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. A $10 cover fee gets you in to hear some great music and maybe try a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster to celebrate!

New video: First-class bhangra!

28 Jul

Internet sensation Wilbur Sargunaraj is at it again! He had so much fun in Ottawa back in February filming the video for the popular The Canada Song, he just had to return in the summer. The result? First-class Bhangra — a catchy tune with an all-Ottawa video featuring Parliament Hill, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police horse, Sparks Street Mall, Aboriginal Experiences, the ByWard Market neighbourhood, Rideau Canal and more!

Check it out (I dare you not to sing along):

 

Prince William and Kate Middleton to visit Ottawa on Canada Day

29 Apr

Last year's Canada Day crowds before the fireworks at 10pm were huge. With William and Kate in town this July 1, who knows what to expect? PHOTO CREDIT: Ontario Tourism

Today’s magnificent Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton — now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — is just the beginning of their life together.

On June 30, the royal couple will embark on their first official foreign visit as husband and wife. They’ll start their trip to Canada in Ottawa, just in time for the huge Canada Day celebrations on July 1.

While the official itinerary is a closely guarded secret, we at Ottawa Tourism thought we’d suggest some activities.

What do you think the Royal Couple should do while in the region?

Please add your own suggestions by clicking on “Leave a Comment” below.