With options like livestreamed performances, virtual brewery tours and online exhibitions, there are countless ways to virtually experience Canada’s capital region. Here are some online options to explore Ottawa at a distance and get inspired to visit in the future.
- Parliament of Canada’s House of Commons to learn about Canada’s government while Centre Block undergoes several years of renovations;
- Rideau Hall, the official residence and workplace of the governor general of Canada;
- Take a video tour through the gardens and grounds of the National Gallery of Canada;
- Canadian History Hall at the Canadian Museum of History, to learn about Canadian history and experience from coast to coast to coast;
- Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum, the underground-bunker-turned-museum which was built to house senior members of government during the Cold War (be sure to check out their new Bunker Boutique!);
- Bytown Museum, which tells the history of Ottawa from rough and tumble lumber town to the country’s modern capital;
- Experience the Canadian Museum of Nature online by taking their 3D, 360-degree virtual tour, exhibition walkthroughs and more;
- Take a virtual trip down the Rideau Canal with TVO’s program TRIPPING the Rideau Canal! This four hour, immersive “real-time” trip down the UNESCO World Heritage Site explores the beauty and history of the Rideau Canal as if you were sailing yourself;
- Just south of Ottawa, Watson’s Mill in Manotick brings visitors back to the 1860s. Check out their virtual tour to learn about flour production and the start of the town;
- See important works and objects from AY Jackson’s career in the Firestone Collection at the Ottawa Art Gallery’s virtual 3D tour;
- The Supreme Court of Canada offers free remote tours with a guide-interpreter;
- Take a video tour of the Beechwood Cemetery, Canada’s National Military Cemetery.
- Take an interactive, virtual walk-through to view remarkable Trees of Canada’s Capital (you can also visit the trees in person).
Online exhibitions and activities
- Canadian Museum of History: online exhibitions and “Museum at Home” activities and resources which includes the new Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour Collection;
- Canadian War Museum: online exhibitions and “Museum at Home” activities and resources;
- Ingenium museums (Canada Science and Technology Museum, Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum): Google Arts & Culture, apps and games, remote learning tools, and content on the Ingenium Channel;
- Virtual National Gallery of Canada brings all the gallery’s online exhibitions and activities together in one place, highlights various pieces from their collection, investigating the tradition of the salon, celebrating Canadian photography, and much more. Check out their exhibition playlist on YouTube for a closer look at current and past exhibits;
- Canadian Museum of Nature has fun games and lessons and colouring pages;
- Virtual Museum of Canada: Canada-wide collection of digital museum and heritage experiences;
- Check out the fun colouring pages and jigsaw puzzles offered by the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum;
- Learn about the Canadian economy with lesson plans, activities, and more from the Bank of Canada Museum;
- The Ottawa International Airport has fun, kid-friendly content available online including kids’ quizzes about airports and airplanes, videos, and more;
- CFL team the Ottawa REDBLACKS keep young fans happy with a kid’s activity pack including mazes, colouring pages, and more;
- The Isolation Museum is an interesting complement to Ottawa’s museum scene – it exists to foster contact and connection through the documentation of stories of real experiences during COVID-19;
- The Bytown Museum offers a digitized collection, Victorian crafts, and a series of videos on key parts of Ottawa's history (video series available on their Instagram account).
- The Ottawa Public Library’s offers an impressive variety of free virtual programming including cooking demonstrations with local chefs, author visits, and sessions on health, technology, ecology, and more. (Must be an Ottawa resident with a library account.)
Festivals and events
- The annual Sound and Light Show – Northern Lights on Parliament Hill—which is normally projected onto Centre Block with English and French audio—is virtual this year. There’s also an an activity kit!
- The Music and Beyond festival (originally scheduled July 4-17, 2020) is releasing 100 original videos of musicians performing as well as visual artists, guest hosts other content. Half the videos are in French and half are in English.
- Ottawa Bluesfest and the National Arts Centre both offer summer drive in concerts. #CanadaPerforms at RBC Bluesfest Drive-In celebrates Canadian musicians beginning July 31, 2020 on the Zibi site in Gatineau.
- Local tech company SportsStats offers a Physical Distancing 5K, inviting participants to register and run a course at its west-end headquarters anytime until September 2020.
- The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend has cancelled its annual event scheduled for May 23-24, 2020 and is going virtual this year with a virtual race. Run Ottawa is working with Sportstats to create a shareable virtual finish line to allow participants to run or walk on their own between May 15 and September 7 while respecting and promoting all public health physical distancing guidelines.
- Capital Pride is virtually hosting their annual celebration of the city’s 2SLGBTQ+ community, August 23-30, 2020
- The Canada Army Run cancelled its annual race but encourages participants to participate in the Canada Army Run: Virtual (September 12-20, 2020).
- Celebrate Franco-Ontarian culture at the Franco-Ontarien Festival September 25-26, 2020. You can attend virtually (very limited space is available on-site at Major’s Hill Park).
- The annual Ottawa International Animation Festival is hosting an extended online version, September 23 to October 4, 2020.
- The National Arts Centre, Canada’s home for performing arts located in downtown Ottawa, brings the arts online with their #CanadaPerforms series, highlighting Canadian artists during livestream music, dance, theatre and other performances.
- To stay informed about locally-based performances (livestreamed as well as live), visit the Live Music Lovers Ottawa.
- Support Ontario artists by watching living room concerts at Music Together, presented by Ontario Live.