Looking for fun and easy alternatives to your virtual book club meeting, online happy hour or family Zoom chat? Or are you planning an online get-together for a special occasion, holiday party or teambuilding event? Virtual activities like trivia, wine tastings and cooking classes are a few of the many options offered by Ottawa-based innovators. Stay connected with friends, family or co-workers near and far with these entertaining virtual experiences.
Create a bonding experience with your group by taking a virtual cooking class together.
- C’est Bon Cooking: In addition to socially distanced in-person instruction, this ByWard Market-based cooking school offers online classes. Sign up for a group or private session. Before the class, you’ll receive a list of equipment and ingredients. Then, over Zoom, chef Georges will walk you through dishes such as sautéed shrimp with tomato and garlic coulis, or black bean and root vegetable stew.
- Rebels in the Kitchen: Chef Rawan Al Wadaa presents private online cooking lessons largely focused on Lebanese specialties, such as falafel, shawarma and kibbeh. Before the class, you’ll get a grocery and equipment list, along with instructions.
- The Urban Element: Choose from a wide range of online classes, such as sessions on holiday cookies, Thai food or Québécois tourtière. The price includes all the ingredients you need, which will be delivered in advance to your home. You can usually also add on goodies such as appetizers, dessert and wine.
- The Cultural Kitchen: Chef María Amalia Garza shares the flavours of her native Mexico—as well as many other countries, including Thailand and Spain—via online cooking instruction for small groups. She can customize sessions for birthday parties, team-building and other events.
Raise a glass
Fire up your video-conferencing program, open your bottles, stage an online happy hour and share your tasting notes, all without having to pick a designated driver.
- Montgomery Scotch Lounge: An oatmeal café by day, this small Old Ottawa South spot becomes a scotch lounge by night. You can order flights of single malts for at-home tastings, for pickup or for delivery. The bar will even lend each household special glasses and a tasting board.
- Savvy Company: This specialty provider puts together regularly changing Savvy Care Packages featuring Ontario wines, ciders, craft beers and more—many not available in retail outlets. Some packages include admission to exclusive online events, such as a virtual tasting with a sommelier. For extra fun, you could sign up for Savvy’s cheese-of-the-month club, featuring all-Canadian cheeses.
- Bar From Afar: Recreate the feeling of sipping craft cocktails at a trendy bar with this company’s home-delivered kits, which include liquor, mixes, garnishes and even ice. Open up a video chat, get out your cocktail shakers, and compare your successes in whipping up drinks like spiced pear sours or mango margaritas. For a full party experience, you can also order appetizers and full meals from MyCateringGroup.
- Brew Donkey: Sign up for a virtual beer hall tour and get local craft brews delivered to your doorstep. Then, on the afternoon of the tour, use the Remo video-conference platform to take a live virtual tour of the featured brewery. You can ask the brew masters questions in real time, and chat with your buddies—or mingle with new friends—at online “tables” (private groups).
Show off your trivia chops
If you’re an ace at Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy!, round up your fellow factoid fans for a game of virtual pub trivia. These can be great teambuilding events for your office!
- Outside the Box Trivia: Teams of up to six people can sign up for a weekly Saturday night online game featuring six rounds of questions, each with a secret theme. You can also book a private event with some questions tailored to your group.
- Trivia Hall of Fame: This company has run live pub games across Ottawa for more than 20 years. Now, it has taken the fun online, offering customized trivia parties for private groups on Zoom, as well as twice-weekly Facebook Live games.
Enjoy a show
Why not invite some friends to attend an online concert, play or other live performance, and then chat about it afterward over text, video chat or even an old-school conference call? Here are some great places to find the latest livestreams.
- Live Music Lovers Ottawa: This site posts lots of links to online (and real world) concerts by a wide range of Ottawa bands and musicians.
- La Nouvelle Scène: This downtown theatre is presenting a diverse schedule of real-world and virtual performances for audiences of all ages, including plays for adults and storytelling events for kids. Most are in French, but there are some English shows, too.
- National Arts Centre: The NAC presents English, French and Indigenous productions. Through its #CanadaPerforms series, the centre is livestreaming theatre, music, dance and other types of shows—from its own stages and from venues across the country.
- GCTC: This theatre in the Wellington West neighbourhood is offering some creative ways to access cutting-edge theatre, such as tickets to online audio performances of classic Canadian plays.
- Ottawa Symphony: The orchestra is livestreaming its concerts from the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre on Friday nights, for free, in its Eine Kleine Distanced Music series. You can watch online or via Rogers Cable 22.
- Michael the Magician: Ottawa magician Michael Bourada has logged five national tours and more than 4,000 shows over the last 20 years—he’s even performed on TV with Penn and Teller. These days, he’s entertaining audiences online.
Other fun virtual gathering options
From dance clubs and escape rooms to spa days and date nights, Ottawa promoters are finding cool ways to bring the experience right to your home.
- Club Virtual–Ottawa: Put on your glam clothes, text your BFFs, open up Twitch and hit your living room dance floor. Party to EDM/house, hip-hop, reggaeton, club anthems and more during virtual DJ events, including a free party scheduled for New Year’s Eve.
- Escape Manor: While still running real-world, socially distanced experiences in locations across Ottawa, this entertainment organizer is also offering Taken: The Swiss Account, an online adventure where people in multiple households can collaborate to rescue a kidnapped VIP.
- Party in a Box: Everything you need to throw a memorable virtual bash—glassware, a curated playlist, snacks, drinks, access to a virtual photobooth and much more—comes in these carefully assembled boxes featuring lots of local Ottawa products. Themes include spa (incense, candles, body moisturizer, gin) and date night (charcuterie, chocolate-dipped strawberries, rum and romantic games).