40 Free Things You Gotta Do This December 2017 In Ottawa
Save your money.
Good ol' December, the craziest month of the entire year. With just a few days left until December, it's time to start planning when you're going to study, buy gifts, and plan outfits. If you're in uni like me, exams are just around the corner so you're extremely stressed about that PLUS you have to start buying peoples gifts AND organize your different outfits for different holiday parties. Seriously this has to be one of the busiest and most expensive month of the year.
Not only are you planning for exams and holiday parties, but then as soon as that craziness is done, New Years Eve follows! Now if you're trying to save as many of your coins as possible then this list will 100% help you out. Whether you're looking to spend the day outside embracing the winter weather or inside being warm and cozy, the list of things to do are endless.
Now with holiday music playing all around us, I can't help but remix a holiday classic to: "It's the most expensive time of the yearrrrr"! Cause seriously by the time this month is done we all wonder how our bank account suffered so badly. The best thing we can all do is save our money. At the end of the day material objects don't really last forever so you may as well save up your money and spend it on a trip that will give you everlasting memories!
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Free Things To Do From December 1-8
Welcome The Embassy of Romania at Ottawa Welcomes the World // December 1st
What better way to open the month than to learn about another culture. The event will be at Lansdowne and will feature artistic performances by Marțișor Orchestra, traditional art, heritage and literature exhibitions. While you're here you can also learn about Romanian Christmas and winter traditions and carols.
Visit the 613Christmas Market // December 2nd
Even if you don't buy anything strolling through a market is always a lovely way to pass your day. Whether you're on the look for some simple gifts or you're a sucker for window shopping visiting the market will have you feeling super festive.
Watch the lighting of the Lansdowne Christmas tree // December 2nd
Make your way to Lansdowne to watch the iconic tree get lit for the holiday season. The tree is on throughout December, so if you don't make it out to the lighting you can always head there to see it shine through the month. The stunning lights will get you in the holiday spirit ASAP.
Go skating on the// December 2nd - March 4th 2018
This is such an adorable date night *heart eyes*! Some people are super gifted and if you are you lovebirds can race each other around the rink. If you're more of a beginner (like me), then you guys can learn how to skate together or even cuter, teach each other.
Follow the map to the
Pack a bag that includes snacks, an aux cord, and a cozy blanket and hit up every spot in Ottawa that has stunning Christmas lights. Download some Micheal Bublé and Mariah Carey to sing along to your favourite holiday jams while road tripping through the city.
Visit the new
Take a blast to the past and visit the iconic Crazy Kitchen. The Science and Technology museum has had a major makeover, from colourful walls to stunning lights it is definitely worth visiting. There are 11 new exhibits and the museum is free everyday of the week from 4 pm to 5 pm!
Watch Santa's Parade of Lights // December 2nd
Make your way to Orleans and watch Santa's Parade of Lights. The Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association hosts the annual parade of lights once again. The parade begins at 6pm starting at Youville Drive heading down to Prestone Drive.
Attend Laureate City poetry event // December 1st - 2nd
If you love poetry then you have to head to Laureate City, Ottawa's celebration of poetry. The event will include a series of readings, discussions, and other activities. Poet laureates from across the country will be featured. Some guests will come from Toronto, Nova Scotia, Calgary, and many many more! On December 1st the event is at 7pm and on the 2ns it will be at 11pm.
Watch the Christmas Lights Across Canada official illumination ceremony // December 7th
Head to Parliament Hill to watch the 33rd annual Christmas Lights Across Canada illumination. The light show will begin at 7pm making it a perfect way to end your evening or start your night out! Pack your mittens and zip up your jacket, it's time to watch the traditional light show at Parliament.
Attend the National Gallery of Canada Tree Lighting // December 7th
Now for those of you that cringe with the thought of standing outside in the cold, you can enjoy a tree lighting indoors at the National Gallery of Canada. The tree will be lit at 6:30pm and while there you can grab a complimentary hot chocolate and make a beaded swirl ornament to decorate your tree.
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Free Things To Do From December 9 - 15
Check out Hog's Back Falls in the winter
It's no Niagara Falls, but it definietly looks magical during the winter time. With a light dust of snow on top of the dark rocks, the falls will have you in a winter wonderland in no time.
Check out the Arts, Culture & Heritage Program: Populace // December 13th
Populace at Home is a celebration of the grand Populace installation that was a showcase of the Canada 150 celebrations. The Populace ceramics were at the Canadian Museum of History throughout the summer, but now that winter has hit the beautiful flowers are now on display. If you wish to see the the ceramics head to the Shenkman Arts Centre.
Take a Parliament Hill Tour to see the Holiday Lights
It's not just the Parliament Hill Lightshow outside of Parliament that is stunning, head inside to see the gorgeous decorations. No official dates were given for when the decorations will be removed, but you can assume they'll be gone by January 7th.
Brave the cold and hike at Carbide Willson Ruins
What better way to completely embrace the cold, right?! I mean at the end of the day the cold weather is here to stay so we may as well take it like champs and go with it. Who said hikes are only pretty during the fall? Seriously, after a fresh snow the trees always look stunning and will make you feel like you're in a winter wonderland.
Hit up the Lansdowne Christmas Market // December 9th, 10th, and 23rd
The Lansdowne Christmas Market is one of the most popular Christmas Markets in Ottawa. The market is open from 9am to 3pm which leaves you wil almost half the day browsing and searching for the best treats, decorations, and crafts. The market includes 120 vendors of locally made and grown goods perfect for gift giving.
Drive down the iconic Taffy Lane
A must do during the Holiday season. This is a cheap, simple, and warm way of seeing stunning Christmas lights during a nightime drive. Bring your aux cord and download your best Christmas songs because this is one of the best ways to end your evening on a lit note.
Head to the Canadian Museum of Nature
Go visit Ottawa's very own castle this winter. The Canadian Museum of Nature is free every Thursday after 5pm, meaning you can explore the museum all night without having to pay a single penny. From dinosaur bones to stunning gemstones, the museum will have you busy all night long.
Take a magical stroll through Confederation Park
Confederation Park always looks so stunning during December. The lights reflect off of the white snow making the park a completely magical winter wonderland. Of course you can't take a seat, but strolling with a coffee or hot chocolate in your hands will make for a wonderful night.
Stroll through Mer Bleue Conservation Area
Brave the cold and take a walk through Mer Bleue. The bright snow will light up your day. If you're a lover of nature then you will for sure enjoy taking a walk through the Mer Bleue Conservation Area.
Hit up the Bank of Canada Museum
If you're looking for a museum that is always free, then you have to head to the Bank of Canada Museum. Unlike most Ottawa museums that are only free after 5pm, this museum is free all the time. It will be closed from December 24th to January 2nd, so don't miss your chance to visit!
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Free Things To Do From December 16 - 22
Visit Gingerbread Man for some sweet treats
What better way to get insperation for how to decorate your gingerbread house that to visit Gingerbread Man. This shop sells everything and anything you'll need for your gingerbread house. You can also order your own custom house!
Go tobogganing at Green's Creek
What better way to get into the winter spirit than to go tobogganing. Whether it's a family tradition or you've always wanted to do it, tobogganing is a definite bucket list activity during winter.
Step inside a complete Christmas lover's dream. From decorated trees, to sparkles, to ornaments and stockings, this emporium will have you in the Christmas mood ASAP. Seriously, this place will transport you straight into a Christmas movie.
Visit the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is a great place to escape from the cold if you love art. Every Thursday from 5 to 8 pm there is free admission to national galleries. Special exhibits this year include Canadian and Indigenous Art, Our Masterpieces Our Stories, Photography in Canada, and PhotoLab 2: Women Speaking Art.
Check out the Ottawa Sign in the ByWard Market
The iconic sign that was in the ByWard Market over the summer is here to stay. It was originally part of Canada 150's Inspiration Village and is now repositioned and permanently in Ottawa. Whether you're trying to get a cute insta or have some family visiting for the holiday's this sign is a great photo op.
Visit Gatineau Parks
We all know the real cold hits in January, so you may as well take advantage of the weather right now. Head to Gatineau's Parks to explore and discover the many lakes that are all stunning.
Go skating at the// Opens December 7th
This massive skating rink is being built at Parliament as we speak! Heritage Canada took on this skating rink project to commemorate Canada's 150th. The rink will be open through the winter and is expected to close in February. Head to Parliament Hill for a once in a lifetime skate.
Attend the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica's Christmas Concert // December 17th
If you love celebrating Christmas by listening to a choir sing, then you will love attending the Christmas concert. The cathedral was built in 1841, making it the largest and oldest church in all of Ottawa. If you can't make it to the concert and just want to visit, you can always explore the cathedral when you wish.
Go for a Horse Drawn Carriage Ride in the ByWard Market
Be treated like the royalty you are by going on a horse drawn carriage ride. Whether you're doing this as a date night with bae or as a fun night out with your BFF, the free horse ride will never be forgotten. Free horse drawn carriage rides will be every Saturday & Sunday before Christmas during December from 1pm to 4pm.
Skate at Lansdowne's Skating Court // Opens December 9th
Head to Lansdowne for a skate and then head inside and have a hot chocolate at Cocoa 70. If that doesn't sound like a perfect day I don't know what does. Whether you're a skating pro or just learning it's a great winter activity for all.
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Free Things To Do From December 23 - 31
Go tobogganing on Carlington Park Ski Hill
If you're looking for one of the fastest hill's in Ottawa, then you should check out Carlington Park's Ski Hill. Unleash your inner kid and head over to this long hill. There's nothing more fun than doing something like a kid again!
Watch the fireworks at Parliament Hill on New Years Eve // December 31st
What better way to ring in the New Year than heading to Parliament Hill to watch the fireworks. In fact, before watching the fireworks you can skate at the rink, grab a coffee, and ring in the New Year.
Take a wintery stroll at the Ottawa Locks
The Ottawa Locks are a perfect place to go for a winter walk. With a hot coffee warming your hands you can take a walk down to the Ottawa River. Whether you go to watch the sunset or just head there at some point during the day, the view of the Ottawa River in the winter is stunning.
Admire a chocolate wonderland at the Lindt Chocolate Shop
When you visit the Lindt Chocolate Shop at Lansdowne you are 99.9% likely to get a free chocolate. Even if you don't get one for free, the single chocolates aren't too expensive so you may as well treat yourself. Lindt chocolates are so amazing and there are always a variety of flavours available for everyone.
Go skating at Ben Franklin Place
If you don't feel like bussing all the way downtown to go skating and you live in the West end, you should 100% check out Ben Franklin Place. The rink in Centrepointe is open daily for free from 11am to 8pm, on New Years Eve the rink closes at 10 pm.
Visit the Karsh-Masson Gallery
If you're a lover of all things artsy, then you should definitely check out the Karsh-Masson Gallery. Not only will you be nice and warm while doing something free, you will also be immersed in a world of art. The artwork in the gallery is by local, national and international professional artists working in various styles and mediums.
Admire the stunning lights at Major's Hill Park
Before the lights are packed away for next year, you 100% need to check out the Christmas lights at Major's Hill Park. With the pretty Château Laurier, Parliament Hill, and the National Gallery of Canada in the backdrop the park is stunning from every angle!
Spend the day at Black Squirrel Books & Espresso Bar
Crack open a book, grab a coffee, and sip away your day while reading your favourite book. Escape from the cold for the day in this super cozy cafe. The food and drinks available are all locally sourced and fresh. They serveoptions for desserts and only use local roasteries for the coffee.
Take a winter stroll down Sparks Street
By taking a walk down Sparks you are bound to find at least one thing to do. From Bier Markt DJ Thursdays to D’Arcy McGee’s Live Music the events on Sparks never end. During the holiday season the lights are always super festive and Insta worthy.
Be one with nature at Jack Pine Trail
If you live pretty far from Orleans and making it to Mer Bleue Conservation Area is a mission, then the Jack Pine Trail is a perfect substitute. Any nature lover will really enjoy hearing the peaceful silence and singing birds. During the summer trials can be loud because of the amount of people, but in the winter not as many people brave the cold, so silence is normally guaranteed.