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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!

A whale of a time at the Canadian Museum of Nature!

16 Mar

Yes, that's the size of a blue whale's heart! Unbelievable! credit-Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2008

March Break visitors to the Canadian Museum of Nature this week got a first look at the new exhibit, Whales Tohorā, which runs from March 2 to September 3, 2012. This exhibit is on loan from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Tohorā, means “whale” in Māori, and the Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. Whale-bone treasures, such as weapons and adornments, that the Māori produced reveal the significance of whales to them and reflect the exhibition’s cultural expression of the relationship between the two groups.

Whales Tohorā explores the diversity, biology and adaptation of whales to life in the oceans and also on the human impacts on whales such as the threats of fishing nets, foreign debris, predators and boats. A stunning component of this exhibition is the massive 17.8-metre, fully articulated sperm-whale skeleton that gives a real sense of the sperm whale’s size as the largest toothed predator on the planet!

The exhibition’s Whale Lab is full of interactive science:

  • Children can crawl through a life-sized replica of the heart of the largest living creature—the blue whale.
  • The extraordinary evolutionary journey of whales from land to the sea is shown by casts of fossil whale ancestors.
  • Visitors can tune in to a range of whale sounds and discover how scientists and amateur trackers identify individual whales on their migration through the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Whale Lab also features Search and Destroy, an experience that takes visitors to the ocean depths on a hunt for a giant squid, re-created from authentic data and sounds collected from a real sperm whale.

Visitors of any age will find something of interest in this awe inspiring exhibit that explores the undersea world of whales and brings them to life with cultural storytelling, intriguing objects and interactive science.  For more information on the exhibit visit the Canadian Museum of Nature website or, to book your getaway package that includes a visit to the Whales Tohorā exhibit, visit www.ottawatourism.ca.

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.

Ice skating at Rideau Hall

10 Jan

When y0u think of ice skating in Ottawa, you probably think of the famous Rideau Canal Skateway, snaking 7.8 km (4.8 miles) through downtown, or maybe you’re already dreaming of skating on the Rink of Dreams, that will open later this month in front of City Hall. Or maybe you learned to skate or play shinny (hockey) on one of the 247 (yes, 247!) outdoor rinks in City of Ottawa parks.

But were you aware of the historic outdoor rink at Rideau Hall, the home and workplace of every one of Canada’s Governors General since Confederation? (The Governor General is Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Canada.)

Built in 1872 by Lord Dufferin (Governor General at the time), the rink offers free public skating on Saturdays and Sundays from January 6 to March 11, 2012 as long as the weather cooperates! Groups of 20 people or more can also reserve certain times throughout the week and that’s just what a group of Ottawa Tourism staff and friends did recently. See the video below!

Winterlude is just around the corner!

6 Dec

Ottawans love to skate on the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway each winter.

The snow has started to fall in Ottawa and thoughts are turning to Christmas, the holidays and the whole winter season!

This winter marks the 42nd season of organized ice skating on the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway. The Canal snakes 7.8 km (4.8 miles) through downtown Ottawa— kids skate to school, people skate to work! It’s the equivalent in size to 90 Olympic-sized ice rinks, giving it the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink.

It takes several consecutive days of -15° Celsius (-5° Fahrenheit) or colder temperatures to ensure that the ice is at least a foot thick. That’s when the National Capital Commission deems it safe enough to open to the public — usually in late December or early January.

Skating on the Rideau Canal is the centrepiece activity of Winterlude, the capital region’s annual celebration of all things winter. The event takes place February 3 to 20, 2012.

Most activities are held on the weekends— learn-to-skate clinics, a hockey tournament, a winter triathlon, children’s entertainment—but the ice sculptures, skating on the Rideau Canal and the Snowflake Kingdom children’s snow playground are offered during the week as well (except Tuesday and Wednesday for Snowflake Kingdom). Best of all, most activities are free!

Foodies will love Taste of Winterlude, which runs from January 26 through February 20. Some of the capital’s best local restaurants create unique culinary events—wine and food pairings, chef demonstrations, walkabout winter feasts and more.

Book your visit to Ottawa with the Winterlude Rendezvous for Two package or the Winterlude Family Getaway! And don’t forget, participating Ottawa-area hotels are offering Third Night Free for travel until March 31, 2012.

Ottawa on video

3 Nov

We’ve come across a couple great Ottawa-themed videos in the past few days that we wanted to share. The first is an ode to Ottawa by local rapper The Joynt called Capcity:

 

And this one is great, too — featuring a couple of young Ottawa soccer players showing off their impressive skills in front of some of the region’s most popular attractions.

 

Any favourite parts? Please share below!

New water taxi service links Ottawa – Gatineau – Casino

16 Sep

The Gatineau dock (with beautiful view of Parliament Hill) for Au feel de l'eau's new environmentally friendly electric aquabus.

A new water taxi service is linking sites along the Ottawa and Gatineau Rivers. Au feel de l’eau operates a pollution-free electric boat that can hold up to 12 passengers, 2 wheelchairs and 4 bicycles.

Until October 9, it departs each morning at 9am from the Casino du Lac-Leamy, and arrives at the Ottawa wharf (located where the Rideau Canal empties into the Ottawa River, near the Bytown Museum) around 10:00am. At 10:15am, it begins to shuttle back and forth between Ottawa and a site on the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River near the Canadian Museum of Civilization until 12:20 when it departs Ottawa for the Casino again.

At 1:30pm, it leaves the Casino and between 2:35 and 6:15pm, it shuttles back-and-forth between Ottawa and Gatineau. The final run from Ottawa to the Casino departs at 6:15pm, arriving at 7:15pm.

If weather conditions permit, the company will continue the Ottawa-Gatineau shuttles for an additional week, until October 16. In 2012, the service will run between May and October.

The cost is $5 per person (tax included) for the Ottawa-Gatineau shuttles and $15 per person for the Ottawa-Casino shuttles.

The company also offers private group bookings.

UPDATE (September 18): Until further notice, the water taxi will operate in the afternoon only!