As winter winds down and spring settles in, Canada’s Capital blossoms with a variety of indoor and outdoor events for all ages. Consider the event highlights below your invitation to come out of hibernation and enjoy beer, poutine, art, films and more in Ottawa this spring.
Maple season: March and April
Spring is maple syrup season! Visit sugar shacks and maple-related events in Ottawa and the surrounding countryside to enjoy the delicious sweet treat, try traditional Canadian food and experience spring outdoor activities. See our Maple Syrup Fun page for programming highlights.
Easter programming: Various dates and locations
Many sites and attractions throughout Ottawa offer special programming and activities over the Easter weekend and on other dates. Many restaurants offer special meals and brunches – especially on Easter Sunday, April 21 (see our list of year-round brunch hot spots for inspiration). And visit our online Event Calendar for family-friendly suggestions like Easter egg hunts, baby animals and historical programming.
Ikebana: April 11 – 14
This annual exhibition of Japanese floral design features 50 unique arrangements on display at the Canadian Museum of Nature. The event is organized by the Ottawa Centennial Chapter of Ikebana International.
Special exhibits at the Ottawa Art Gallery: Various dates
Starting on April 12, five new special exhibits are on view at the always-free Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG). See works of art including interactive sculptures, collaboratively-made art and a massive video projection created by local, national and international artists.
613flea: April 20
This monthly market at Lansdowne features great one-of-a-kind finds by artisans, makers and other independent creators (admission is free).
Sparks Street Poutinefest: April 25 – 28
Ottawa’s best food trucks gather along three blocks of Sparks Street to showcase their take on Canada’s favourite indulgence. In addition to the gooey goodness, there’s live music, street performers, patios and more. Admission is free!
Ottawa Grassroots Festival: April 25 – 28
The Ottawa Grassroots Festival is an annual, inclusive and family-focused event that celebrates folk music, dance and spoken word. Ticketed and free events, including some participatory workshops, are held at the Southminster United Church in the Glebe neighbourhood.
TIFF Film Circuit at the Gallery: April 25 – June 20 (select dates)
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) presents the best of Canadian and international films at the National Gallery of Canada. This unique film festival experience brings together cinema, food and conversation.
Nature Nocturne: April 26
The Canadian Museum of Nature’s monthly Nature Nocturne themed event invites you to dance and mingle in the museum’s unique atmosphere!
Palooza Beer Pong Festival: April 27
The world’s largest beer pong tournament takes place at the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne. This charity event features DJs, beer and fun competition.
Ottawa PoutineFest: May 2 – 5
Head to Festival Plaza outside Ottawa City Hall to celebrate poutine, a Canadian dish consisting of fries, gravy and fresh cheese curds. At PoutineFest, dozens of vendors serve all kinds of poutine, plus local craft beer, live entertainment, kids activities and more. Admission is free!
Ottawa International Writers Festival: May 2 – 7
The spring edition of the Ottawa International Writers Festival celebrates the finest new and established writers from across Canada and around the world. Events are held at various locations.
Jane’s Walk Ottawa: May 4 – 5
Passionate Ottawa residents offer free walking tours throughout the city in either English or French. Jane’s Walk topics include iconic buildings, neighbourhoods, plants, historic sites and even an urban skateboard park.
ByWard BARKET: May 5
The historic ByWard Market neighbourhood is inviting four-legged furry friends for special dog-friendly fun on their upcoming ByWard BARKET day! Explore pup-up shops, patios, treats, special canines and even a fashion show!
CN Cycle for CHEO: May 5
This fun and non-competitive charity event offers a wide range of cycling (15K, 35K, 70K) and walking (2K, 5K) routes for people of all ages and abilities. The fully-supported urban cycling routes are closed to traffic, allowing everyone to safely cycle along Ottawa’s most scenic corridors.
Ottawa Children’s Festival: May 8 – 12
This annual festival held at Lebreton Flats presents the best in live performing arts including theatre, dance and music for children aged two to 15.
Ottawa Beer Fest: May 10 – 11
The Ottawa Beer Fest features over 40 craft purveyors of beverages like beer and cider, plus brewmaster seminars, a Craft Beer 5K Run/Walk, and fun activities. This annual festival is held at the historic Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne.
Ottawa ComicCon: May 10 – 12
Celebrate pop culture and entertainment during this three-day fan convention at the EY Centre. Expect celebrities, personalities and exhibitors from comic books, sci-fi, fantasy, movies, TV, toys, anime, gaming and more.
Canadian Tulip Festival: May 10 – 20
This annual world-famous festival features over a million tulips across Canada’s capital, plus entertainment, activities and special events at the festival’s official site in Commissioners Park along the Rideau Canal.
Opening of the Rideau Canal: May 18 – 20
NOKIA Sunday Bikedays: May 19 – September 1
Sunday mornings from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., more than 50 kilometres (30 miles) of Ottawa’s scenic parkways are closed to motorists for Sunday Bikedays. The predetermined routes are taken over by cyclists, in-line skaters, runners, joggers and walkers.
The Happening: May 24 – June 1 (weekends)
This multi-day event celebrates local artists, designers, musicians and businesses in the Wellington West community of Ottawa. All funds raised from the festival are returned to the community through arts grants.
Great Glebe Garage Sale: May 25
Every year since 1986, countless individual vendors gather throughout the historic Glebe neighbourhood on the fourth Saturday in May to collectively create one giant garage sale. Thousands of people flock to the area to shop for treasures and bargains, rain or shine.
Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend: May 25 – 26
Nearly 50,000 participants compete in a variety of challenging races, including a 10k and Canada’s largest marathon during the Ottawa Race Weekend. Athletes and spectators enjoy the picturesque running routes that pass by many of Ottawa’s major landmarks including Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal.
There’s always something fun going on in Canada’s capital! For even more event suggestions, see our online Event Calendar.