Heading to Ottawa for Canada Day
Since we were actually at home for Canada Day this year, we needed to make holiday plans. After considering our options we decided that we would go to Ottawa for Canada Day to celebrate in the nation’s capital. This would also let us visit with our son Kris who is going to University there.
We debated how we would get to Ottawa – drive, fly or take the train. Each had merits but since we were going to be mostly downtown for the festivities, we decided to take the train. Booking Via Rail Business Class would let us relax or work. And we wouldn’t have to face crazy holiday traffic on the roads or at the airports.
It was a quick 5 hour train trip and an easy Uber ride to get settled into the Novotel Hotel by the Rideau Centre. This would put us in easy walking distance to both the Bytown Market and Parliament Hill
Red and White and Crazy For Canada Day
Ottawa was decorated in red and white for Canada Day. You could see the flag draped from buildings, buses painted as flags and boats in the Rideau Canal all decorated in holiday spirit.
When we headed out early on Canada Day, there was no mistaking it was Canada Day in Ottawa. We were sporting our Canada Day attire and almost everyone was sporting red and white clothes.
When the crowds filled the street, there was a sea of red and white for as far as you could see. It was Canada Day in Ottawa!
Not only did people dress in red and white, but every conceivable Canadian icon was used to augment the costumes that people wore.
We may have thought we were looking wild but go for another block and someone would be dressed even wilder. There were moose antlers, Canada Day hats in every shape and size, people draped with Canada flags and people painted with bright red lipstick or Canada tattoos.
If you didn’t bring your own costume for Canada Day in Ottawa, there was lots of selection to be purchased or given away by the vendors supporting the festivities.
Canada Day Festivities
There were celebrations on Parliament Hill all day for Canada Day in Ottawa including speeches and music. Security screening to get onto the hill was only a minor deterrent to the crowds.
Major’s Hill Park was the setting for a wide assortment of food trucks, kids entertainment and a large music stage for a number of acts through the day. Via Rail sponsored a mini train that would take you around the park.
When you heard that specific jet sound, you knew to look up and watch for the Snowbirds flying in formation over Parliament Hill.
Eat Your Fill
Like all other festivals, there was a broad range of food and drink to be had around the venues for Canada Day in Ottawa. Food trucks lined the street.
Our favourite was the Wine Truck. We could try a variety of Ontario wines and I may have found a new favourite rosé wine! And if wine was not your thing, we made sure to find chocolate too!
If you wandered into the Byward Market you could purchase any number of Canadian food specialities. We made sure to stock up on maple syrup. The line up for Beavertails was long throughout the weekend! No Canadian festival is complete without BeaverTails! If you are not Canadian, a BeaverTail is fried dough pastries, individually hand stretched to resemble a beaver’s tail. If you are a traditionalist, you have this decorated in white powder sugar or cinnamon. If you want to go wild, add whipped cream, banana slices, crumbled oreos or chocolate hazelnut.
Fireworks at Night
We were really looking forward to seeing the fireworks and music show. The sky behind Parliament Hill would be lit up over the Ottawa River. During the day we walked around a couple of times to find the perfect perch. We had come prepared with our seats. David packed all his camera gear including his large tripod to get a perfectly still night picture.
The forecast called for thunderstorms by evening. When the rain started mid-afternoon we were worried but then the skies cleared. But just as we settled onto an outdoor patio for dinner the skies opened up and lightening started to flash. Quickly donning our rain ponchos we headed back to the hotel to see if we could wait it out.
We were not prepared to head to Parliament Hill in the pouring rain just for fireworks. We were not sure how much we might catch from our hotel window. If we decided to come back to Ottawa in 2017 for the 150th anniversary year, we would make sure to get a room with a view!
At 9:45pm the rain settled down to a light drizzle and we quickly grabbed our ponchos and cameras. We figured the nearest bridge might give us a high enough view. When we found the bridge closed off to pedestrians, we grabbed a spot to watch the great show.
We were sorry to not have a much greater view closer to Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River but at least we saw the awesome display that hit the high sky.
Plan To Be In Ottawa for Canada Day
It was great to spend Canada Day in Ottawa! While you get good Canada Day celebrations in other parts of Canada, there is something special about seeing the whole downtown area closed off the for the day of celebrations. See the Canada Day festivities and fireworks with Parliament Hill as the backdrop added to the excitement.
If you are looking to celebrate Canada Day in a special way, consider making the trip to Ottawa. 2017 is the 150th Anniversary and it will be a Canada Day celebration to outdo all others. But plan to make your reservations early! We are already looking at booking options!
Have you celebrated Canada Day in Ottawa? What was your favourite part of being in the nation’s capital for this special day?