10 of Ottawa’s best annual festivals

Ottawa is a city full of cultural festivals – as you would expect from any first-class capital city. Throughout the year Canada’s capital is full of sporting, historical, and gastronomical festivals that are sure to delight locals and visitors alike. If you’re heading to Ottawa soon, have a look through the following list and see if any of these festivals will be on during your visit.  

Canadian Tulip Festival

In 1945, the Dutch Royal Family sent Ottawa 100,000 tulip bulbs thanking them for sheltering the future Queen Juliana and her family during World War II. Eight years later in 1953, the Canadian Tulip Festival was born.

Since then it has become the world’s largest tulip festival and includes live entertainment, military displays, and fireworks.

Ottawa Marathon

Every year, the Ottawa Marathon attracts close to 50,000 runners – some of them world record holders! Aside from the six races, there is also a wide variety of entertainment including live music, a beer garden, and a Health and Fitness Expo.

Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

This four-day boating festival is one of the city’s biggest sporting festivals and the biggest dragon racing festival in all of North America. Aside from the races, there are also free concerts, free family activities, food, and cultural performances.

Tim Hortons Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival

Then in the winter, you can witness the world’s largest annual Ice Dragon Boat Festival, which takes place on the frozen Rideau Canal. It also includes free concerts, family activities, and traditional dancers.


Canada embraces winter, and Ottawa is no exception. At Winterlude, you’ll witness glittering ice carvings and majestic snow sculptures, while your kids can have fun in a gigantic snow playground! You’ll also be able to skate along the world-famous Rideau Canal while it’s frozen over.

Ottawa Pride

Not only is Canada a very safe country for LGBTQ+ travellers, but the capital is proud to host a week-long Pride Festival. 2018’s festival included over 50 community events that took place throughout the capital region.

Winter Brewfest

Sample more than 100 varieties of craft beer that originate from Ontario and Quebec at Winter Brewfest. You’ll also be treated to gourmet food and music from local DJs.

Ottawa Children’s Festival

Younger family members will love this five-day festival that focuses on theatre, dance and music for young audiences.

Escapade Music Festival

Escapade Music Festival is a must for electronica fans. It made its debut in 2010, where almost 3,000 people attended. Since then the festival has attracted some of the world’s biggest DJs, including Deadmau5 and TIËSTO. Local musical talent is also showcased at the event.  

Festibière de Gatineau

Finally, we have one of the region’s biggest beer festivals. It’s your chance to sample 350 craft beers created by more than 30 Québec and Ontario Breweries – along with more than a dozen food trucks. There will also be live music and a kid’s zone.

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