Pretty landscapes, snowy winters and beautiful heritage buildings in and around the Ottawa area keep Hollywood coming back to film Christmas movies. Checking out filming locations is a great way to see some sights, do some local shopping, and follow in the footsteps of famous actors like Justin Hartley, Megan Follows, Tim Reid and Mel Gibson. This holiday season, take a break from binging Christmas movies on the W Network, Hallmark Channel, Lifetime and Netflix to visit places where some of the flicks were filmed in the Ottawa region.
ByWard Market and surroundings
As one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, ByWard Market has heritage stone buildings, outdoor vendors’ stalls heaped with fresh wreaths and all sorts of other Christmassy locations. Start your visit at the French-language bookstore Librairie du soleil, which featured in A Storybook Christmas and A Christmas for the Books. Nearby, cobblestoned Clarendon Lane, Jeanne d’Arc Court and Tin House Court have hosted numerous holiday film crews. Other neighbourhood locales that have shown up in Christmas movies include the clothing shop Milk, the Somewhere Dine Bar and the Whiskey Bar.
Just beyond the ByWard Market area in Downtown Rideau, you can admire the castle-like Fairmont Château Laurier Hotel (Christmas Carousel). And in the opposite direction, head to Macdonald Gardens Park in Lowertown to see the pretty gazebo (Midnight at the Magnolia), and Strathcona Park beside the Rideau River in nearby Sandy Hill (Christmas Unwrapped).
As well as being home to the Parliament Buildings, this downtown area has played a part in several festive movies. Sites that have been featured include Howard Fine Jewellers and Custom Designers (Christmas Unwrapped) on Sparks Street, Happy Goat Coffee Company (Midnight at the Magnolia) on Elgin Street and the Bramasole Diner (Christmas Unwrapped and Christmas Jars) on Bank Street.
Immediately south of Centretown, the lively neighbourhood of the Glebe is a magnet for Christmas shoppers, who come to browse independent boutiques and the year-round Ottawa Farmers’ Market at Lansdowne. Christmas Jars featured the eye-catching Glebe Community Centre, as well as Patterson’s Creek Park, with its charming bridge over an inlet of the Rideau Canal (which, when frozen, is the world’s largest skating rink). Irene’s Pub, a favourite local spot for live music and drinks, showed up in The Truth About Christmas.
Old Ottawa South
In Old Ottawa South, you’ll find the historic Mayfair Theatre. Dating back to 1932, it is one of Canada’s oldest independent cinemas. Not surprisingly, it has hosted countless movie shoots, including one for Christmas Unwrapped. This stretch of Bank Street is a great place to find charming shops and restaurants, such as Framed (art, framing and gifts) and The Belmont restaurant (trendy cocktails and small plates).
The photogenic community of Manotick—once a separate village, now part of Ottawa—attracts filmmakers with scenic backdrops such as Watson’s Mill on the Rideau River. Various shops and restaurants appeared in Candy Cane Christmas, including Terra Plants and Flowers, Black Dog Bistro and 692 Coffee and Bar. Even the local McDonough’s Your Independent Grocer had its moment in the spotlight.
Other Ottawa neighbourhoods
Christmas movie-worthy locations are scattered elsewhere around the city. Spots west of downtown include Flapjack’s Canadian Diner in Little Italy (Rock and Roll Christmas), Stella Luna Gelato Café in Hintonburg (Double Holiday) and Savoy Brasserie in Westboro (Christmas Unwrapped). In the east end, the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum—which evokes the atmosphere of a 1930s small town with vintage buildings and recreated streetscapes—served as a backdrop for Winter Castle and Christmas Around the Corner.
The region immediately southwest of Ottawa, including Lanark County, is picture-postcard cute—so cute, in fact, that it’s become something of a production hub for holiday-themed TV rom-coms.
This beautiful village is well worth a stop. One big draw in Pakenham for Christmas movie fans is Cedar Hill Christmas Tree Farm, which has shown up in The Rooftop Christmas Tree (naturally), Christmas Festival of Ice, Christmas Scavenger Hunt and A Cheerful Christmas. In early 2020, the Mel Gibson movie The Fatman filmed in several Pakenham spots, including Mount Pakenham, Ski Hill Road, Carbine Road and the historic Pakenham Five Span Bridge. While there, don’t miss the gorgeous Pakenham General Store, one of the oldest general stores in Canada, or Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugarbush, which produces sweet treats as well its own line of maple spa products.
So many holiday flicks have been filmed in the picturesque town of Almonte—known for its heritage stone mills on the Mississippi River—that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Here are a few of the Almonte locations featured in recent Christmas movies:
- Elgin Street (The Rooftop Christmas Tree)
- Mill Street (multiple movies)
- Superior restaurant (Christmas Festival of Ice)
- Baker Bob’s (Christmas Festival of Ice, Christmas Around the Corner)
- Old Town Hall (Christmas Around the Corner, Christmas Scavenger Hunt)
- North Market Café (Christmas Around the Corner)
- Cashmere and Rose flower and gift shop (A Cheerful Christmas)
- Mississippi Valley Textile Museum (A Cheerful Christmas, The Rooftop Christmas Tree)
- L.G. Lee and Sons hardware and gift store (Love on a Limb)
- Café Postino (Christmas Scavenger Hunt, The Rooftop Christmas Tree)
- Pinehurst Manor B&B (The Fatman)
When you visit, don’t miss the chance to snap a selfie with the statue of Dr. James Naismith, the Almonte native who invented basketball.
Just 15 minutes south of Almonte along County Road 29, the town of Carleton Place has also increasingly played a role in Christmas movies. In the pretty downtown, which overlooks the Mississippi River, check out the giant mural of First World War flying ace Arthur Roy Brown (born and raised in Carleton Place), drop into Stalwart Brewing Company for a refreshing beverage and nosh on delicious farm-to-table fare at Black Tartan Kitchen. Sites featured include these:
- Town Hall (The Rooftop Christmas Tree, Christmas Around the Corner)
- former Canadian Pacific train station (Christmas Around the Corner)
- the Grand Hotel (A Cheerful Christmas)
The Ottawa Film Office has created a detailed map showing these and many other sites of recent holiday movie shoots. You can also discover non-holiday-themed Ottawa film locations using the website’s self-guided film tours.
And to learn more about some of the locations mentioned in this article, see our Best places to get into the holiday spirit in the Ottawa area.