9 things to do nine days before Christmas

Although Mother Nature has graced Ottawa with an unseasonably warm December, there are still many ways to get in the holiday spirit in the capital. From live performances, to Christmas villages, light shows and craft sales; there are a multitude of activities for people of all ages to enjoy. Ensure your spot on Santa’s nice list by embracing the spirit of the season. Here are some suggestions:

Stanley’s Christmas Village

For anyone who thinks Elf is the greatest Christmas movie going, Stanley’s Christmas Village is the place for you. Every holiday season Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm is transformed into an elf village that oversees the sorting of mail, production of toys and chimney tracking in the Ottawa area.

Kids (and adults!) can see where lumps of coal are made, or visit the wrapping warehouse. The park is open weekends through to December 20th by reservations only. Click here  to save your spot!

Christmas tea

Warm beverages are synonymous with the holidays and what better way to get in the spirit of the season than by taking in a Christmas-themed high tea at Billings Estate National Historic Site. A cup of tea will hit the spot while carolers dressed in Victorian garb will transport you to a time when Ebenezer Scrooge strolled the streets. Tea is served Friday, Saturday and Sunday (until Dec. 20) from 3 pm to 8 pm.

Reservations can be made here

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Ian’s Christmas Adventure Park & Tree Farm

Trimming the tree is an important part of many families’ holiday traditions. But, selecting the perfect pine can be just as much fun. If you’re looking for the real deal, check out Ian’s Christmas Adventure Park & Tree Farm . Harvest your own fresh tree, pet the reindeer, enjoy a sleigh ride, cozy up with free hot chocolate or even visit Claus’ Country Cabin at Ho Ho Lake! It’s the best place to experience some Christmas magic this side of the North Pole.

The park is open through to December 24th, Mon-Fri: 1 pm – 10 pm, Sat-Sun: 9 am –10 pm.

Alight at Night

Upper Canada Village’s premier event of the year is a worthy reason to take a drive outside the city. Take advantage of warmer-than-usual temperatures by strolling through the display of close to one million lights. Heritage buildings, trees and fences spring to life on your way to Saint Nick’s Merry Mansion to meet the big man in red. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that comes ‘round but once a year! For this spectacular display, visit Alight at Night from 5-9 pm from Dec 17 – Dec 24th, or Dec. 26 – Jan. 2.

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Carriage ride

For all you romantics out there, a horse-drawn carriage ride through Ottawa’s downtown could be the perfect early Christmas gift for your sweetheart. Snuggle up under a warm blanket and take in some of the city’s sights while buskers croon carols as you cruise around the Byward market. You can find the carriages parked at various points within the market for the spontaneous, or for

click here  to make a reservation.

Taffy Lane

Any one who lives in the east end of Ottawa knows there’s one thing you must do during the holiday season: visit Taffy Lane

Located just off Orleans Blvd., the namesake’s main drag, residents of Taffy Lane pull out all the stops to give their neighbours a feast for the eyes. Cars crawl down the street every evening taking in beautifully ornamented homes, dazzling with the most elaborate decorations. With the mild weather in tow, it’s a perfect year to stroll the lane on foot, perhaps with a cup of cocoa in hand! Most homes leave their decorations up until New Year’s Day.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra at CTC

There is a whole host of amazing Christmas choir performances planned around the city this year. From small venues, like local churches, to performances on the NAC stage, there’s no shortage of talent to take in around the holidays. One of the main events is that the revered Trans-Siberian Orchestra is playing two concerts entitled “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve”, on Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 4 and 8 p.m. You can bet they will play their famed version of “Carol of the Bells”—a holiday favourite! Tickets are sold here .

Visit the NGC’s magnificent tree

Standing nearly 12 meters tall and six meters wide and adorned with 12,0000 bulbs, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) is housing a beautiful Christmas tree worthy of a visit and a photo-op. With many holiday activities taking place at the museum during the festive season, you can maximize admission by visiting this holiday landmark. For more information click here

Parliament Hill Light Show

Christmas Lights across Canada has landed at Parliament Hill and our trusted sources say the show is more spectacular than ever. The illuminated Centre Block sparkles every evening from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. and the magical lightscapes multimedia show takes place from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. until January 7. Spectators will see Canada’s parliament become the backdrop for a Canadian fairytale, accompanied by an original soundtrack. This is a wonderful opportunity, for tourists and locals alike, to take in the beauty of Canada while savouring the magic of Christmastime.

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9 things to do nine days before Christmas

A Capital City that Celebrates Food

Dining out in Ottawa has changed profoundly over the last decade. A city that was once lightly flecked with a handful of exceptional eateries has experienced a restaurant boom, and Ottawa is now a hub for food. Rewind twenty years ago, when the culture of dining out was just starting to blossom in Ottawa. Celebrations and milestones brought families and friends out of their homes and into restaurants.Today, Ottawans dine out anywhere from once a month to three times a week. Where has this new attitude toward dining come from? And how has it shaped a national capital region that truly celebrates food?

Rise of the Restaurant

The downtown core is not the only—nor the first—place that Ottawans, and tourists, turn to for a good meal these days. Neighbourhoods, from Hintonburg to Westboro; to Little Italy and the Glebe, are bursting with new restaurants and becoming lively hubs that foodies covet. The options are limitless; the destinations at our fingertips. In these new restaurants, chefs are taking risks with their menus, and they are finding that new approaches to cuisine are being applauded. Just this year, we’ve seen a handful of new restaurants open in Ottawa—each offering a menu that is completely unlike the next.

The Glebe neighbourhood has welcomed the upmarket Pomeroy House and the Fraser brothers’ second restaurant, The Rowan, found its home not far from there. On Elgin, Chef and Restaurateur Matt Carmichael recently opened an Asian small plates bar, called Dat Sun, situated next door to his incredibly successful taco stop, El Camino. Even the suburbs are seeing a different style of restaurant emerge. Communities, like Orléans and Stittsville, have recently welcomed new bistros that offer a unique dining experience – much different to the practice of chain restaurants. One thing is certain: Ottawa was ready for more variety. And restaurateurs delivered.

pomeroy

A love for local food has brought character to Canadian cuisine—and to Ottawa’s cuisine, too. With accessible local food suppliers and a fortune of farms on the city’s fringes, Ottawa has developed a true appreciation for the natural gift of home-grown grub. There is an expectation to embrace local food, and chefs have harnessed the delight that lies in plating Ottawa’s essence.

farmers market

Standard of Service

Beyond food and local suppliers comes the experience of dining out. Stephen Beckta, for Ottawa’s purpose, is the Godfather of Gastronomy and the Sultan of Service. With his first remarkable endeavour in 2003 (the nine time award-winning restaurant, Beckta), he reshaped the definition of fine dining with a focus on service excellence. This shift quickly transcended the white-tablecloth restaurants of Ottawa and became the standard.

Places like Fauna, Supply and Demand and the Elmdale Tavern are more casual dining experiences that still offer exceptional service. Ottawa knows that great service and good food go hand in hand. It is all part of the experience.

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Welcoming Wine & the Cocktail Craze

For a long time, the natural union of food and wine was missing in Ottawa. But, as the city experienced a restaurant boom, a new appreciation for wine was also unearthed. Now, we welcome wine as a pillar of a good meal. And on the coattails of wine came its cousin: the cocktail. The cocktail craze has taken Ottawa by storm and almost every new restaurant boasts a list of artisan cocktails that give a nod to the artistry of mixology.

The Albion Rooms is revered for their craft cocktail list, while Play Food and Wine in the Byward Market is regarded as top tier in Ottawa’s offerings of wine lists. It has been an exciting decade for restaurants—and for eaters—in the National Capital Region.

Yes, Ottawa is hungry. But no longer are we biting at the ankles of Montreal or Toronto. This city has clinched its own spot in the upper echelon of the Canadian food scene.

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A Capital City that Celebrates Food