Arts & EventsOttawa Life's Top 10 Activities to Get You Into the Holiday Spirit

Ottawa Life's Top 10 Activities to Get You Into the Holiday Spirit

Ottawa Life's Top 10 Activities to Get You Into the Holiday Spirit

Holiday lights are twinkling and the first snow of the season has fallen, so we declare the holiday season officially begun! Ottawa is brimming with great holiday activities this month, from theatre and music to shopping, food and outdoor adventures, there is something for everyone. We've put together a list of our top 10 things to get you in a festive mood this holiday season, so get out there and enjoy!

1. Christmas Lights Across Canada

What better way to get you into the holiday spirit than 400,000 brightly coloured Christmas lights illuminating the National Capital Region? Launched in 1985, the Christmas Lights Across Canada program celebrates the beauty of the season by lighting provincial and territorial capital cities across Canada (and of course the Nation's Capital), in a dazzling cross-country lighting display. Here in Ottawa, watch for landmarks across the National Capital Region to be lit up December 2 to January 7. The official illumination ceremony takes place in on Parliament Hill at 7pm on Wednesday December 2nd, so grab a peppermint latte and head out to see the city light up.

When: December 2 - January 7.

Cost: Free!

Find out more at

Alight at night
Photo courtesy of Upper Canada Village.

2. Alight at Night Festival at Upper Canada Village

Each December, Upper Canada Village transforms into a Christmas wonderland for the Alight at Night festival. About an hour's drive away from Ottawa, just outside of the village of Morrisburg, the Alight at Night festival is a picture perfect holiday setting. Hop onboard a life-sized toy train, book a romantic carriage ride under the softly falling snow, or just soak up the Christmas carols, festive dining and great holiday shopping. Alight at Night runs from December 4-20 Thursday-Sunday nights. Want to meet Santa on your visit? Then don't miss "Fun and Lunch with Santa" in the Harvest Barn on Saturday December 12.

When: December 4-20, nightly Thursday-Sunday.

Cost: Adults $14, Seniors $12, Youth $10, Children 5 and under Free.

Find out more at alight-at-night.

Photo by Bomba Rosa.

3. Canada's Royal Ballet presents The Nutcracker

The Royal Winnipeg ballet performs the timeless classic The Nutcracker this holiday season at the National Arts Centre. This production oozes holiday pizzazz, energetic dancing mice, the always beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy, stunning costumes and mesmerizing choreography. Daily performances run from December 2-6, including a Saturday and Sunday Matinee making it a perfect outing for the family. Pre-performance "Sugar Plum Parties" one hour before show time give that little ballerina in your life the opportunity to participate in colouring activities, dress up, and even a chance to show off their dance moves with the school of dance. Tickets are going quick so be sure to get yours before it sells out.

When: December 2-6.

Cost: Tickets start at $25.

Find out more at

4. Fairmont Chateau Laurier – Brunch with Santa  

For food lovers and those wanting a festive way to celebrate with the family, be sure to check out Brunch with Santa at the elegant Fairmont Chateau Laurier. The beautiful Wilfred's Restaurant in this iconic downtown hotel hosts this Saturday brunch on December 19. Come hungry as the menu is filled with mouth-watering items including a make your own crepe station, traditional roast carving station and baked holiday treats galore. It's one of Santa's favourite places to visit on his pre-Christmas tour, and one of ours too! The hotel is decked out in its holiday best so it's also a great place to get some family holiday photos. Reservations are recommended.

When: December 19.

Cost: Kids 6-12yrs $35, Adults $65.

Find out more at

The Tallis Scholars, photo by Eric Richmond.

5. The Tallis Scholars - Ottawa Chamberfest

Celebrate the season with the world-renowned Tallis scholars in an evening of Christmas music presented inside the beautiful Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.  This performance of sacred vocal Renaissance music by an award-winning UK group will feature Thomas Tallis’ masterpiece Puer natus est nobis, performed with festive motets by John Sheppard. Don't miss this show, as it’s only one of the group’s two Canadian stops as they cross Europe and North America this holiday season.

When: December 7.

Cost: Tickets start at $35.

Find out more at

Christmas Shopping
Photo courtesy of The Original Ottawa Christmas Craft Sale.

6. Original Ottawa Christmas Craft Sale

Get your holiday shopping started (or finished if you're an early bird), at the Original Ottawa Christmas Craft Sale from December 10-20. This 10 day shopping event takes place at EY Centre (near the airport), and features over 180 artisans selling unique Canadian handmade items. From pottery and glassware to baked treats and fashion accessories, you're sure to cross names off your Christmas list!

When: December 10-20.

Cost: $7 Admission for adults, $5 if you're 65yrs+ or between 13-17yrs.

Find out more at

7. Trailer Park Boys, the Dear Santa Claus Tour

For those wanting some untraditional holiday entertainment, the Trailer park boys Dear Santa Claus tour comes to the National Arts Centre December 7. Watch as Bubbles tries to spread the true meaning of Christmas to the world before his plans are botched by Julian wanting to cash in on the Festive season and Ricky relentlessly trying to meet the real Santa. If untraditional holiday fun is your style, or you need a break from holiday planning, relax and unwind with this inevitably entertaining show. Tickets start at $55, with $1 from each ticket going to the Ottawa Literacy foundation. *NOTE: be sure to leave the kids at home for this one!

When: December 7.

Cost: Tickets start at $55.

Find out more at

Holiday show (1)
Things you can find at the OAG Art and Parcel sale. Works by Becca Wallace, Allyson Green, Maya Hum, Littlest Bird Workshop, Erin Wallace, Of the Town, Shirley Liu, Teresa Wingar and Gwen Best.

8. OAG Art Sale - Art and Parcel a Holiday Art Sale

Running from November 5 to January 25, the Art and Parcel Holiday Art Sale at the OAG is the place to get those one-of-a-kind items for the art lover on your Christmas list. From original photographs, paintings, drawings, jewelry and textiles, there is something for everyone, maybe even you! If you’re a member of the OAG, you’ll save an extra 15% off your purchases.

When: November 5- January 25.

Cost: Free to shop, admission to the Gallery if you want to look around (which we suggest) is on a pay what you can basis.

Find out more at

9. A Christmas Story – Presented by the Ottawa little theatre

Looking for a Christmas play with a little comedic flare? The Ottawa Little Theatre presents A Christmas Story, a holiday comedy sure to bring giggles out of the whole family. Playwright Philip Grecian brings together the talented actors of the Ottawa Little Theatre in this cult classic based on the hit movie. Shows run nightly December 2-19, with a Sunday afternoon performance on December 13 and a Saturday afternoon performance on December 19.

When: December 2-19.

Cost: $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and $12 for youth. Family packages and holiday bundles available.

Find out more at

Photo courtesy of Stanley’s Christmas Village.

10. Stanley’s Christmas Village

Just a short drive out of the city, Edwards Ontario is home to a holiday oasis called Stanley's Christmas Village. Enjoy an old fashioned sleigh ride through the winter landscape, visit the wrapping warehouse, the reindeer stable, and even find out where the coal comes from for the naughty kids on Santa's list! Hot chocolate, candy canes and a gift are included for the kids. The village is open Saturdays and Sunday from late November through to December 20 and it’s a perfect way to jump into the holiday festivities.

When: November 22- December 20, Saturdays and Sundays.

Cost: $12.50 for adults and kids.

Find out more at

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