Okay, truth time. Winter in Ottawa is super harsh - the cold, the snow, the ice, the slush, the darkness... yeah, it's not exactly the most fun season to deal with.
But guess what makes it all worth it? Summertime. The summer vibes in Ottawa are basically pure magic. The city turns into a gorgeous sunshiny paradise; there are tons of big and small events to be celebrated; the canal defrosts; patios open up - it's honestly just good times all around.
The best part about summer in Ottawa is that, well, it doesn't take much to have an amazing time with your friends! Whether you guys are celebrating the gastronomic wonder that is poutine or meeting up for a game of Ultimate, Ottawa is the place to be to have an awesome time once the sun starts shining.
Check out the free outdoor annual Glow Fair Festival, going down in June
Honestly, Glow Fair Festival is life. First of all, Ottawa gets transformed into a gorgeous neon paradise with artwork, activities live music, and a whole lot of beautiful glowing lights.
As if that wasn't cool enough, Glow Fair Festival also happens to be totally free to check out. This year, it's going down June 14, 15 and 16, making it an awesome way to start off your summer season!
Head on out to Princess Louise Falls for an unforgettable adventure not too far away from home
The great thing about Ottawa is that there's pretty much everything you could want, all concentrated into one area. Green space? We got it. Urban areas? We got it. Awesome bars and restaurants? We got it.
Ottawa even has its very own gorgeous waterfalls, not even a 20-minute drive away from the downtown core. And trust, Princess Louise Falls are beautiful: they're the perfect spot to head to with your friends, to admire the falls and the beauty that is nature. Fair warning, though: be careful! Although it's a relatively safe area, the rocks can get a little slippery.
Get out there and witness one of Ottawa's most celebrated and fun sports: Ultimate Frisbee!
Honestly, if you and your friends have ever played Ultimate, then you already know how fun this sport truly is. If you haven't ever played yet - or even caught a game - then you need to start ASAP.
Other than being a great way to stay active, Ultimate is pretty much... the ultimate way to network during the summer. It brings together Ottawans from all walks of life for the common goal of having some serious outdoor fun!
And if you're down to have fun all summer long, the Ottawa-Carleton Ultimate Association (OCUA) is opening up registration for their co-ed summer league! The OCUA summer league is one of the biggest in the whole world. Joining the league (or going down to see a game live!) is a guaranteed way to stay active, have fun and meet people all summer long.
Make your way down to Commissioners Park for the Canadian Tulip Festival
Sure, checking out the Canadian Tulip Festival might sound like a little bit of a basic thing to do. But honestly, it just wouldn't be summer in without this oh-so Ottawa (and oh-so Instagrammable) event.
This year, the festival is happening May 11 - May 21, so it's pretty much a perfect way to really start diving into summer. Starting off your summer surrounded by gorgeous tulips in the best city in the world? Yeah. Sounds like a dream come true, to be totally honest!
And then remember to kayak across Dow's Lake at least once this year
There aren't that many places in Central Canada where you can literally go kayaking, canoeing or pattleboating right in the middle of a city - but in Ottawa, you totally can!
Which is exactly why you need to go float down Dow's Lake in some kind of boat at least once this summer. The winter was long and frozen, but somehow, chilling near the water and paddling towards some super cute ducks makes it all worth it!
Taste the world's most amazing dish at this year's Spark Street PoutineFest
Full disclosure: PoutineFest is going down this year at the very end of April (April 26 - 29, to be exact), making it technically a fun event to go to with your friends towards the end of spring/beginning of summer.
But honestly, it doesn't really matter when exactly PoutineFest is taking place, because it's quite possibly the greatest dish on Earth. Imagine, stuffing your face so full of cheese curds, your closest friends looking on, the sun shining above you, and nothing but good vibes ahead. Cheers (pull?) to that!
Check out the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival for free live concerts, food and a whole lot of fun!
Fun fact: the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival features the BIGGEST Dragon Boat racing event in all of North America. It's honestly no wonder that it's so much fun to attend!
With free live concerts, food, performances, activities and, of course, the race itself, the Dragon Boat Festival is one Ottawa event you totally need to check out with your friends this June 21 - 24.
Hop on over to Gatineau, for their mindblowing Sound Of Light festival
Sure, Gatineau's so close you can basically just stay in Ottawa and still see the gorgeous fireworks put on by the Casino du Lac-Leamy, this August 4 - 18.
But honestly, you're going to want to head on down to the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau to experience this audio/visual festival for yourself, in person. There'll be fireworks, a soundtrack, and magical summer vibes... which makes for the perfect summer night with friends!
Cap off summer the right way and check out Gatineau's Hot Air Balloon Festival
The only thing more inspiring than watching dozens of hot air balloons float away into the beautiful afternoon sky is... well, riding a hot air balloon as it floats away into the beautiful afternoon sky.
And at Gatineau's Hot Air Balloon Festival, that's exactly what you can do! Whether you watch the hot air balloons from the fair below, or get yourself an aerial view of Ottawa, this festival is probably the most cathartic way to end an already awesome summer.
Go on a very short road trip together, and check out the biggest bungee jump in the whole country
Morrison's Quarry is only about a half an hour drive from Ottawa, making it legit the perfect amount of time for a short summer road trip. Hop in the car with your friends, and come out to some seriously beautiful sights.
The crystal clear waters in the quarry make it an ideal place for scuba diving (!), snorkelling, diving, swimming, or just basic chilling. Or, if you're an adrenaline junkie, the quarry is also home to the Great Canadian Bungee - AKA the biggest bungee jump in Canada!
Or, for fun, sun and sand right in your own backyard, head on out to Britannia Beach
Honestly, Ottawa's Britannia Beach is glorious. It's got everything you could possibly ever want in a beach - sand, fun, water and basically the best, beachy vibes in the whole city - and it's a little bit on the secluded side, making it a perfect spot for a beach adventure with your friends.
Plus, there's always something fun going on at Britannia Beach. For example, you can catch super exciting Ultimate Tournament there in June 2018, where 16 teams battle it out in the sand to be named the ultimate Ultimate champions!
Or, if you want to be part of the action instead of just watching it, you can register right now for OCUA's co-ed summer Ultimate league!
Ultimate is an active, unique and dynamic sport that's basically the most fun you can have outdoors this summer. You can join with a bunch of your friends and create your own team if you want, or you can rely on the super inclusive OCUA league to network and meet new people.
OCUA's co-ed summer league is one of the biggest in the world, with over 4,000 members (that's a lot of new friends!) and social events, like end-of-the-season festivals, pub gatherings, and maybe even a beer garden or two!
Let's be real here: joining OCUA sounds like one seriously awesome way to spend the summer in Ottawa! Registration for the summer league can cost as little as $90 and lasts from the middle of May until the end of August.