Tons and Tons of Fun Stuff to Do This Season
by Loukia Zigoumis
Ready to whoop it up this season? The time is now. There are all kinds of fun activities and events happening in the Ottawa area—especially around the holidays. Here are some things you can look forward to as a family:
Christmas Lights Across Canada: The annual celebration is especially beautiful here in Ottawa, where hundreds of thousands of colourful lights dazzle in the downtown. They’re ablaze and sparkling from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. through January 7. The show on Parliament Hill is especially breathtaking, so grab some hot chocolate and a Beavertail, and take a winter walk with the family to see all that glows.
The Nutcracker: Dating back to 1892 in Russia, this beloved ballet is a classic holiday tale. You can take the children to see it performed by Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, accompanied by the NAC Orchestra, at the National Arts Centre through December 6. The Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition is presented by Canada’s Ballet Jörgen at Centrepointe Theatre December 12 at 1 and 4:30 p.m. and at the Shenkman Arts Centre December 13 at 7 p.m. and December 14 at 1:30 and 7 p.m.
Angel Square: Great Canadian Theatre Company is presenting Brian Doyle’s beloved story Angel Square in December. Adapted and directed by Janet Irwin, the Ottawa classic is onstage through December 20. A show for all ages, it tells the story of a youngster in 1945 who’s on a mission to solve a mystery in Lowertown. Show times are at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, at 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Vintage Village of Lights: Cumberland Heritage Village Museum is a magical nighttime destination in December with more than 30,000 lights and lots of fun family activities. You can decorate gingerbread cookies, tour the village by horse-drawn wagon, learn the history of letters to Santa, and try street hockey and sledding. Hours are 3 to 8 p.m. until December 20 and these activities are included with regular admission.
Stanley’s Christmas Village: Kids (and the big kids) will be enchanted by an adventure at Stanley’s Christmas Village, where a Christmas Elf leads you on a horse-drawn ride through a forest to the Elf Village. There you’ll discover the Wrapping Warehouse, Herme’s Dental Office, Candy Cane Daycare, the stables, the C.E.O Station, Ginger’s Bakery and other whimsical landmarks. Youngsters love it. The village at Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm, 2452 Yorks Corners Road in Edwards, is open Saturday and Sunday until December 20.
Christmas Market: The popular Ottawa Farmers’ Market will be a Christmas market for the weekends of December 5 and 6, 12 and 13, and 19 and 20. These Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Landsdowne Park’s Aberdeen Pavilion, you’ll find gifts, holiday treats, stocking stuffers and all the festive trimmings. A trip to the market makes for a fun family outing and it’s also a nice opportunity to support local vendors. `
All winter long on Sunday you can visit the Ottawa Farmers’ Market in the warmth of the Aberdeen Pavilion. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. until January 10, when they switch to 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The kids will appreciate checking out all the goodies. They include grains, meats, cheeses, produce, baked goods and sweets.
Old-fashioned Christmas Party: At Fairfields Heritage House, you can relive local Christmases past at an old-fashioned party December 19. This event highlights the traditions that were celebrated in Canada back in the 1840s when the Bell family lived at Fairfields House. Kids can sample traditional holiday treats, make ornaments and enjoy the carollers who’ll be singing classic Christmas carols. Cost is $16 for the family.
Festivities at Billings Estate: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is coming to life at Billings Estate December 11 to 13. Audience members can move from room to room through the estate as the story unfolds. The show is at 7:30 p.m. A Christmas-themed high tea is being served in the ballroom and in Sally’s Kitchen December 13, and December 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Highlights include carollers in Victorian costumes who’ll be singing as tea is served.
A Nepean Christmas Carol: Discover the Christmas traditions of early settlers December 12 at Nepean Museum. A gingerbread house decorating area, a doll-making station, a Christmas card printing area and a teddy bear sewing station will delight the youngsters. The Ottawa Choral Society Ensemble will be performing Christmas carols and Santa Claus himself will arrive to read stories to the children. This event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and cost is $10 for two people or $16 for the family.
Alight At Night: Experience some after-dark, outdoor magic at Upper Canada Village during Alight At Night. Through January 3, more than a million lights transform the historic site into a sparkly winter wonderland. Join in the caroling, see the Sound and Light Show at Saint Nick’s Merry Mansion, go for a ride on the Ferris wheel, reserve a horse-drawn wagon ride, shop at the Village store, buy fresh bread, enjoy hot chocolate, and dine at the Harvest Barn. It’s worth the drive.
Rumpelstiltskin: Kids’ imaginations can soar at the Shenkman Theatre from December 17 through 19. Ottawa’s East End Theatre is presenting a fun adaptation of Rumpelstiltskin, the Brothers Grimms’ classic tale. This panto version is by Norman Robbins. The show includes a cast of entertaining and crazy characters, including a dastardly baron, plus loads of twists to keep audience members enchanted.
Mary Poppins: Just say, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” Kanata Theatre is presenting Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s classic musical Mary Poppins December 27 to 30. The beguiling nanny lands on the Ron Maslin stage for a rollicking adventure all ages will enjoy. You’ll have a hard time not singing along to classic songs such as Let’s Go fly a Kite and A Spoonful of Sugar, and this show’s positive messages reinforce the importance of valuing ourselves and each other. There are both afternoon and evening shows.
Hogmanay: Family fun, Scottish music, bagpipes, and entertainment are on tap at Hogmanay December 31. The Scottish Society of Ottawa is hosting this ceilidh starting at 6 p.m.in and around the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park. There’s a children’s area, and kids and adults can skate on the Lansdowne Skating Court. There’s plenty of adult fun on the schedule too, including fireworks to ring in 2016.
Alcohol-Free Family New Year’s Eve Party: There’s no need to worry about babysitters or designated drivers if you head to Ben Franklin Place December 31. All ages are welcome at Ottawa Councillor Rick Chiarelli’s annual Alcohol-free Family New Year’s Eve Party. It runs from 6 to 10 p.m. and the theme this year is Once Upon a Time. Revelers are encouraged to dress up, since there are prizes. Highlights include a skating show and party, sleigh rides, live music, magic, jugglers, a bouncy slide, talent show, face painting and fireworks. All the activities are free. Refreshments cost $1 per item and proceeds are donated to MADD and Pius Cares Ottawa chapters as part of an anti-impaired driving initiative.
Rideau Canal Skateway: When the temperature drops, grab your skates and head to the Rideau Canal, the world’s largest outdoor skating rink, to burn off the holiday calories. Over seven kilometers of groomed ice allow you to skate from the Dows Lake Pavilion to the National Arts Center and back, if you’re up for the challenge. When you have non-skaters or little ones, you can rent a sleigh and take them along. Skate rentals, skate sharpening, rest areas and vendors are all available.
Winterlude: From January 29 to February 15, including Family Day, Winterlude is the biggest show in town. Hundreds of activities are taking place on the Rideau Canal Skateway, at the Crystal Crystal Garden in Confederation Park, and at Jacques-Cartier Park, where the Snowflake Kingdom is the world’s biggest snow playground and a major fun zone for kids. One of the oldest Winterlude activities, the Winterlude Triathlon takes place January 30 and you can sign up for an eight-kilometre skate, eight-kilometre ski, and five-kilometre run.