• By: Allen Brown

Unveiling the Best of Ottawa’s Festivals and Events throughout the Year

Ottawa was once nicknamed “The City That Fun Forgot.” The mean nickname was coined in the 1960s by the satirist Allan Fotheringham. Canada’s capital is a place of countless bureaucratic buildings and offices but historically underwhelming nightlife. Public workers and government officials make up a huge part of the population. So, those visiting the city during working hours can be greeted with empty streets.

The public perception regarding Ottawa hasn’t changed much ever since. In a recent documentary, Ottawans described the city as “a good place to take a long nap.” However, the situation has improved a lot over the years, and 2024 will bring a busy calendar for festival seekers and plenty of opportunities for cultural tourists.  

All-Season Fun

Ottawa has festivals and live events all over the year, taking place in parks, theatres, museums, and concert halls. 

If you’re coming to Ottawa for those events, stay connected all the time: get an eSIM Canada and share your experience with everyone! Here are some of the unmissable events of the year. 


In February, thermometers typically stay at uninviting -13º C. However, there’s an excellent reason to go outside: the Winterlude. It’s one of the most important cultural events during the winter. Major attractions include the largest ice rink in the world, sculpture competitions, hockey tournaments, live music, and food.     

Tulip Festival

When the winter is gone, it’s time to celebrate the vivid colours of the spring. Ottawa does so in style with the annual Tulip Festival. The event symbolises the historical friendship between Canada and the Netherlands, mostly due to military collaborations during WWII. 

The Netherlands’ royal family expressed their gratitude by donating 100,000 tulips to Canada in 1945. The Tulip Festival happens in May when you can see over 300,000 tulips in Commissioners Park and more than a million bulbs in public spaces across the city. 

Canada Day

Canada Day is celebrated on July 1st as the country’s birthday. There are huge celebrations all over the country, but the most remarkable one takes place in Ottawa. Decorations using colours of the Canadian flag take up the streets, with people wearing maple leaves ornaments. Live music and dance events take over places like Jacques Cartier Park, Major’s Hill, and Parliament Hill. 


The Chamberfest brings classical music to some of the most beautiful churches and museums around the city. The festival premiered in 1994, and 30 years later, it’s the largest chamber music festival worldwide. This year’s edition will promote concerts in venues like the National Arts Centre, Beechwood’s Sacred Space, and the City Hall.

Ottawa International Animation Festival

The Ottawa International Animation Festival has over four decades of tradition. The festival attracts animations from all over the world and has become an important date for this industry. It happens in September when you can enjoy the vast palette of Ottawa’s autumn colours. 

Packing Up

Ottawa is no longer a place that fun has forsaken. Indeed, it has been quite the contrary in the past few decades. The “youngest” event listed here is already in its 30th edition. The Bluesfest, CityFolk, and Ottawa Folk Festival are also turning 30 this year. Don’t pay attention to outdated jokes: we have amazing festivals for all seasons!  


Image Credit: Istock