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Ottawa’s First BAWI Festival

20 Aug

Ottawa BAWI Festival August 2012

Every spring and summer along the Ottawa River by Remic Rapids people come to marvel at John Felice Ceprano’s stone balanced art. This past weekend, August 18-19 2012, the area was further transformed during the first ever Ottawa Balanced Art World International (BAWI) Festival. Visitors stood and pointed in awe at the creations by 10 artists from Canada, USA and Italy and were further entertained and inspired by performers in music, dance, theatre and poetry.

Visitors to the site can continue to enjoy these creations for the rest of the year; but once the ice and snow comes, these structures are destroyed! Next spring, Mr. Ceprano will be back, creating new works of art with the stones, as he has done since 1986.

Ottawa BAWI Festival Artist August 2012

Ottawa BAWI Festival Artist August 2012

Ottawa BAWI Festival August 2012

Ottawa BAWI Festival August 2012

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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!

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!

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!

Beautiful Winterlude fireworks!

6 Feb

Check out the brilliant display of fireworks at the opening ceremonies for the annual Winterlude festival in Ottawa and Canada’s capital region! The video was shot on Friday, February 3, 2012, from just outside the Canadian Museum of Civilization, looking at the Alexandra Bridge, the glass towers of the National Gallery of Canada, the castle-like Fairmont Château Laurier, and the Gothic spires of the Canadian Parliament Buildings.

Enjoy! Winterlude continues until February 20, 2012.

Winterlude packing guide

31 Jan

So, you’re coming to Ottawa for Winterlude this February. Glad to hear it!

Especially if this is your first visit to Ottawa in the winter, we urge you to refer to this packing guide to make sure you enjoy yourselves to the fullest. Because no matter how amazing the ice sculptures, how romantic the outing on the Rideau Canal Skateway, or how slippery the ice slide at Snowflake Kingdom, you won’t have any fun at all if your feet are cold!

Giant ice slides at Jacques Cartier Park during Winterlude are tons of fun -- when you're dressed warmly!

WINTERLUDE PACKING LIST

  • A backpack: It’s great for stashing your boots while you go skating on the Rideau Canal (remember to bring a plastic bag or two to limit wetness), plus it leaves your hands free to eat a BeaverTail pastry!).
  • Snacks: Raisins, chocolate, power bars—you need something to munch on to keep your energy level up while skating, snowshoeing, skiing, or just wandering around town.
  • Water bottle: Even though it may be cold, you need to stay hydrated! An insulated water bottle is best.
  • Indoor clothing: Bring an extra layer or two of clothing so if it’s warmer or colder than you think, you’re prepared—this is key! Thin sweaters and shirts that whisk away any moisture are the best and they pack well.
  • Outdoor clothing: A warm jacket or parka is a must. Ideally, it would be a fabric that blocks the wind and repels moisture. Remember to layer in order to stay warm.
  • Ski pants: For so many reasons: they block the wind and add warmth, they protect your pants from snow and slush and prevent you from getting wet and therefore colder, and best of all, they help you whizz down the ice and snow slides at Snowflake Kingdom. If you wear jeans, you’ll get stuck and that’s embarrassing!
  • Accessories: A warm hat, gloves or mittens, a scarf…these are necessities. And don’t feel self-conscious—the entire city battles hat-head! The more colourful, the better!
  • Footwear: Don’t skimp here! Warm socks and boots are a must (stick an extra pair of socks in your backpack). Stiletto heels just won’t cut it, either—dress for warmth and you’ll enjoy your time outdoors.
  • A little cash: You’ll want to indulge in a BeaverTail pastry, hot chocolate or other treat, so keep some small bills or coins in a handy spot.
  • Skates and sleighs: If you don’t bring your own pair of ice skates, you can rent some from Capital Skates at either the downtown end of the Canal near the National Arts Centre or half-way along the Canal near Fifth Avenue. Capital Skates also rents sleighs, which are perfect means of transportation for children or non-skaters, and which need to be pushed by skaters. For rates and details, visit www.capitalskates.com Rentals are also available at the Dows Lake Pavilion at the other end of the Canal.
  • Bandaids: If you haven’t skated in years, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to blisters (though modern skates are MUCH more comfortable than they used to be).
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm: Think about it—the sun reflects off the snow and ice so it’s extra strong. Plus sunglasses might help you combat hat head once you move inside.
  • Tissues and wipes: Cold weather often means runny noses, so you’ll appreciate a handy supply of tissues.
  • Mobile phone, camera, batteries, recharger: You want to record  and share these moments with your friends and followers, don’t you? Pack your smartphone and/or camera securely—and warmly—in an inside jacket pocket, not in your backpack where it might freez! Bring extra batteries as the cold sometimes drains them faster than normal usage.

WINTERLUDE TIPS

  • Once you’ve spent all day outside being active, you deserve a reward. Indulge in Taste of Winterlude, a series of culinary special events, including winemakers’ dinners and walkabout winter feasts (where you walk from restaurant to restaurant for each course of a multi-course meal).
  • Use the SnoBus to get around. This FREE service runs every 10-20 minutes on each Saturdays and Sunday during Winterlude and connects all three official sites (along the Rideau Canal Skateway, Confederation Park in Ottawa and Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau). Look for the red and white OC Transpo buses running between Confederation Park and Dows Lake (along the Rideau Canal) from 10am to 8pm on Saturdays  10am to 5:30pm on Sundays. The blue and white STO buses run between Jacques-Cartier Park and Confederation Park on Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 5:30 pm
  • There are 4 new Chalets (heated places to put on your skates or take a break) along the Rideau Canal Skateway. Some people leave their boots behind, but most people throw them in a backpack and take them along.
  • There’s nothing more Canadian than standing in your skates with a BeaverTail in one hand and a hot chocolate in the other, on the Rideau Canal Skateway. Take a photo for Twitter or your Facebook page or upload a video to YouTube!
  • Most women in Ottawa arrive at parties with a shoe bag. You wear your boots to get to where you’re going, then you slip on your knock-’em-dead pumps once you’re there. Practical and sexy!

If you’ve got other tips and tricks to share, mention them below!

Ottawa’s Rink of Dreams

26 Jan

Rink of Dream's Opening Ceremony

In a sea of Sens jerseys Ottawa’s Rink of Dreams was officially opened last night at City Hall, just in time for the NHL All Star Weekend. Residents and visitors to the city will be able to enjoy free ice skating in Canada’s Capital from mid-November to March thanks to the refrigeration unit that keeps the ice in great skating condition up to 10 degrees C.

The Rink of Dreams hosts a heated change hut that’s open 7 days a week from 8am to 11pm. In the evening, skaters will glide the ice that’s three-quarters the size of an NHL rink and illuminated by colourful LED lights around the perimeter.

So grab your skates and lace up!