From the tolling of the Peace Tower bells to the marvelous flight of the Snowbirds, there's nothing like this year's two days of festivities marking Canada Day on Parliament Hill in the nation's capital. (Plus there's the firework show — now who could forget the fireworks.) With even more cool spots to celebrate, like Major's Hill and Jacques Cartier parks, it's safe to say a trip in honour of Canada's birthday is the perfect summer vacation. And what's better, Ottawa is only a short flight away. So mark your calendars; this is certain to be the biggest, boldest, not to mention most patriotic, party of the year. Cue the free concerts!
From Ottawa Tourism, here are a handful of ways to soak up Canadian culture this Canada Day. Really all that's missing is you!
See the Changing of the Guard
Experience the pomp, pageantry and music of the Changing of the Guard at the Peacekeeping Monument, a one-time-only location for Canada Day. The Changing of the Guard, initially a morning routine that started in 1959, is now an annual affair on the Hill. Every morning from June to August at 10 a.m., this colourful spectacle includes a regimental band and pipers as the 'New Guard' march — to the tune of "The 10 Provinces March" — from Cartier Square to Parliament Hill.
Park it on Parliament Hill
If you're around the day before or day after the big festivities, soak up some history with a free guided tour of the heritage Parliament buildings. But you'll definitely want to stake out a spot on the Hill on July 1st, too! It's pretty much basecamp for Canada Day celebrations, with a great view for the epic Snowbird fly over, tons of free concerts like Arkells, and of course, the grand finale fireworks. With workshops and concerts kicking off at 9 a.m., get there early with a blanket and snacks and let the good times roll.
Snack on a BeaverTails
No trip to the nation's capital is complete without a delicious taste of BeaverTails pastries. An Ottawa-based tradition since 1978, the famous dough pastries, BeaverTails — served piping hot with your choice of delicious toppings — make for an ooey-gooey mouth-watering treat while in town. Make your way down to the ByWard Market neighbourhood to find the legendary kiosk, and shop the artisanal stalls while you're at it.
Wear red and white
Sure, the patriotic dress code — and face paint — is optional, but donning red and white is an easy way to get in the spirit this Canada Day. Think of it like a dress-up party, but with thousands of your compatriots! If your wardrobe is on the neutral side or you opt to pack light, pick up a complimentary paper flag at one of the day's celebratory pitstops (Parliament Hill, Major's Hill Park or the Canadian Museum of History) and wave it loud and proud.
Explore the Rideau Canal
The historic Rideau Canal is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ontario — and should not be missed! Opened in 1832, the scenic man-made waterway in the heart of Canada's capital city travels along Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River to Kingston, Ontario, for more than 200 kilometres. Whether you wish to visit by boat, bike or on foot, touring the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America can do it all.
Visit Aboriginal Experiences
Learn about Canada's Indigenous peoples by way of Aboriginal Experiences, in partnership with Odawa Friendship Centre. Located on sacred land between Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec, the location celebrates the Indigenous experience by inviting people to share their diverse cultures, both traditional and contemporary, firsthand. Take a guided tour, learn traditional dances and create your own unique souvenir. Bonus, if you're heading to Ottawa early, the Summer Solstice Festival, June 21-24, is another great way to celebrate. Snack on authentic cuisine, take in Pow Wow dance performances and competitions, enjoy a guided a craft workshop and prepare to be awed.
Ottawa combines the thrills of an urban adventure with the rich history of a capital city. Book your visit today with Porter Airlines and start planning an incredible summer getaway.