by: Brian Clarke
Canada Day in downtown Ottawa can be overwhelming for anyone.
If you’ve read our Canada articles this week, such as “Canada Day in Ottawa: Like Smoking on an Exercise Bike” or “2 Best and 2 Worst Things About Canada Day”, you may have noticed a theme. Canada Day downtown is an awesome party, but can be a bit much if you aren’t prepared (or are involved in the cleanup efforts!).
There is so much bustle and activity that even the most experienced socialite can get lost and confused. This is why we have provided this guide to Canada Day in Ottawa.
Food can be tough to find when the crowd takes over. And even when you do make it to a restaurant, you’ll likely be waiting in line for a seat or your meal for ages.
Yes, there’s the odd vendor selling popsicles or something, but if you’re spending a full day on Parliament Hill, you won’t survive on frozen sugar. My suggestion is to pack a cooler. But I understand that many people don’t want to do this, in which case you essentially have three options:
I also consider the McDonald’s on Rideau Street to be included in this. Obviously, this is the fast option, and probably the best bet for lunch, but not for dinner – the mall closes at 6PM on Canada Day!
If you’re lucky, you may be able to find an early seat in a Byward restaurant. A few of you extremely fortunate ones will get a nice spot on the patio. But if you know you’re going downtown with the intention of sitting at a restaurant, show up early! In past years I’ve noticed line-ups for seats at restaurants by 11:30AM.
Elgin Street restaurants are nearly as busy as the Byward Market ones, but the further you go down the street, the more chance you have of catching a shorter line. If you want to have a sit-down dinner but aren’t willing to wait in line, I’d suggest going to an Elgin Street restaurant as far away from Parliament Hill as possible, such as St. Louis or Elgin Street Diner (if you want quick diner food).
Also, keep in mind that most restaurants and bars will have limited menus on Canada Day, and a lot will jack up their prices.
This is what everyone comes downtown for, isn’t it? There are activities everywhere, so if you don’t know where to go, you might miss out on a lot of interesting stuff. Here is what’s going on everywhere near the Hill.
9:00AM – Carillon Concert
9:30AM – Flag-Raising Ceremony
10:00AM – Changing the Guard
12:00PM – Canada Day Noon Show (see Music below)
2:00PM, 3:00PM & 4:00PM – The Drums, Crown Forces 1812
2:00PM – The Royal Canadian Geography Society’s Giant Map
2:30PM, 3:30PM & 4:30PM – Afro-Caribbean Dance Group presents ‘Black Corps: War of 1812’
7:00PM – Canada Day Evening Show (see Music below)
10:00PM – Fireworks
Hopefully, you listened to my advice in the article “5 reasons to take a rickshaw on Canada Day” and will be looking for a rickshaw runner as part of your Canada Day celebrations. While we may be tough to find at times through the crowds, here are the best places to look to find a rickshaw:
Like rickshaw runners, street performers love Canada Day for business. The best of the buskers flock downtown to put on a show. The following locations are the best spots to potentially find a street performer engaged in a show:
For many, the fireworks are the best part of Canada Day downtown. However, they also attract the largest crowds and it it is difficult to find room to stand. If you want to see the fireworks from Parliament Hill or Major’s Hill Park, you’d better reserve your spot at least two hours in advance. If not, here are some other locations you might try:
As I mentioned in this article early this week, the music is one of the best things about Canada Day in the capital. No matter your taste, you’re sure to find something you like!
If there’s anything we missed, our anything you’d like to know about Canada Day, including what to do or where to go, ask in the comments below, on Facebook or send us a Tweet (@ottawarickshaws) tomorrow and we can give you some good advice!