Parliament Hill may be the expected Canada Day outing, especially as we celebrate our 150th birthday, but there are plenty of other options if braving the sea of revellers is not your thing.
First, let’s look at what’s happening close to home.
An early start: Mayor Jim Watson holds his annual Canada Day Breakfast for Seniors at the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park. While the event is free, tickets are first-come, first served, so it’s best to get them in advance.
Paddle power: Cheer on competitors in the annual Rideau Canoe Club Canada Day International Regatta at Mooney’s Bay. There’s no charge and it makes for great entertainment while you relax in the sun.
Tea, anyone? The Billings Estate holds a special Canada Day Tea with traditional three-tier platter, all for $22.60 a person. It runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and registration is required. Get details here.
Down on the farm: There’s an array of food from local chefs, along with musicians, art and the release of four new Canada-inspired beers that have been developed under cloak of darkness, if you head down to the Agriculture and Food Museum between noon and 11 p.m. While most museums have free admission on Canada Day, there is a $20 charge for this event.
Family fun: For fun on a more intimate scale, at the Canterbury Rec Complex there’s a barbecue, live music, magic show, games, dunk tank and more from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
Get inspired: If you haven’t checked out Inspiration Village yet, there are special activities and performances for Canada Day. Inspiration Village is a series of exhibits in converted shipping containers along a section of York Street in the ByWard Market that showcase the provinces and territories. It includes that giant call to selfies: the larger-than-life Ottawa sign.
NAC revived: First opened for Canada’s centennial, it’s only fitting that the renovated and revived centre for arts in Ottawa reopens on our 150th birthday (although construction won’t be completely finished). The National Arts Centre offers a Canada Day barbecue and free activities starting at 11 a.m.
Museum visit: Many of the city’s museums are free on Canada Day (although not all, so check before you go) and some have a twist to exhibits to give a nod to the 150th. At the Museum of History, for instance, the revamped Canada Hall reopens and dives deeper into the country’s origins, while the museum itself offers both indoor and outdoor activities.
Living art: A fabulous way to spend part of the day is to take in the MosaiCanada 150 exhibit at Jacques Cartier Park. More than 100 mosaiculture works – giant sculptures made with living plants – celebrate our country in a vivid display. There’s no charge and there are fun activities for the whole family.
Island life: More interested in a day at the beach? The Petrie Island Canada Day weekend celebration returns after being moved to Navan and then cancelled last year. Expect music, food, fireworks and a KidZone, with activities running from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The big three: And, finally, if you do have your heart set on Parliament Hill or one of the other two official Canada 150 venues – Major’s Hill Park and the Canadian Museum of History – get there early, pack light, and be patient when it comes to traffic, Ottawa police advise. Another piece of advice? Go ahead and plan your day, but be prepared to change plans at a moment’s notice if huge crowds prompt the closing of a venue.