We’re just coming off a fantastic Thanksgiving Weekend, and I’m still so turkey-drunk that I can’t even say anything witty about it. It was just a lovely haze of apple pie and sweet potatoes and red wine, combined with walks in the woods and the feeding of birds and butterflies and the watching of The Great Escape, all of which was just wonderful. So yes, no snark here today.

One of the great things we did this weekend was go to Pumpkinferno at Upper Canada Village. This is absolutely not a sponsored post in any way, but it was so surprisingly good that I wanted to blog about it quickly and let everyone in Ottawa know that they should absolutely go. Go!

We’ve had Upper Canada Village on our list now, both for a summer visit and for a Christmas visit, for ages now, but I always chicken out because it’s over an hour’s drive away. Pumpkinferno is at night, starting at 6:30 p.m., so combine that with the drive and you have the potential for a major too-tired meltdown. While we were driving down, the kids were already getting restless and cranky and Sir Monkeypants kept saying to me through gritted teeth, “This better be worth it,” but in truth, we both thought we were in for a hellish evening and a quick escape, followed by a long, tormented drive home.

But no! It has a happy ending! Pumpkinferno was AWESOME.

What exactly is it? It’s a display of carved pumpkins. Thousands of carved pumpkins. Creative faces and shapes like you’ve never seen before. Hundreds of pumpkins stacked together and carved as one to create enormous scenes of stunning originality. They literally took our breath away.

So what you do is, you walk. You walk down a nice, wide, welcoming path, through dark fields and forest, each area lit up one after the other with a pumpkin-based vignette. They glow in the night and your kids will be just amazed. Trust me. My kids went from cranky and complainy to declaring that this was the BEST. NIGHT. EVER.

They asked if we could come back the very next night. Then they asked if we could at least come back once more before Halloween (when it’s over). Then they begged me to at least swear that we would come again next year.

And so we will.

I took about a thousand pictures there but many of them are crappy because I suck at low-light photography. Also, I was originally going to post a bunch of pictures to dazzle you with, but then the more I thought about it, the more I thought the surprise of it all – the wonder of wandering into the next scene and being shocked at the cleverness and beauty – was what made it special. So, no spoilers here.

Well…maybe just a couple. To whet your appetite. Click to enlarge.

Chess set at Pumpkinferno
Chinese Lanterns at Pumpkinferno
Saloon at Pumpkinferno
Bride and groom at Pumpkinferno

On the way home my son asked how much it had cost (answer: $10 for adults, $7 for kids aged 6-12, so around $35 plus gas for our family), and he solemnly declared it to be the best money we have ever spent. Completely worth it.

And then all the kids fell asleep for the ride home.

So go, already. Go!

Just a reminder that you can see awesome Ottawa events and activities like this one over on my Facebook page – you don’t have to actually be on Facebook to view the listings. I usually put stuff up on Monday that’s for the upcoming weekend.

The Return of the Year of Epic!

I’m still stopping my Year of Epic posts, but as part of my work for SavvyMom, I’m still keeping an eye on events around Ottawa. There’s seriously SO MUCH to do in this city, that it’s almost impossible to keep track of it all. I find that now that I’m not doing the Year of Epic posts, fabulous events are passing me by and I’m not organized enough to actually get out and about.

So I’ve started up a Facebook page to keep track of cool stuff I hear about to do around Ottawa, specifically for kids and families. If you liked the Year of Epic posts, please go like the Turtlehead Facebook page. My plan right now is to add events on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday for the upcoming weekend. If you’d prefer to hear about things earlier, let me know and I’ll play around with the timeline.

Go there right now to see what’s up for this coming weekend, September 15-16.

Year of Epic – September 1-3

I was hoping to have a whole Year of Epic, but I think this will be my last what’s happening around Ottawa kind of post. I’m just ready to move on to new things, and with the end of summer and (sob!) return to the Making Of Lunches, it seems like a good time to turn over a new leaf and start fresh.

My blog, just like Madonna! Constantly re-inventing itself! I am SO cutting edge.

Anyway, here’s what’s up for the Labour Day weekend in Ottawa. (Events for this coming weekend, August 25/26, are here.)

August 31 through September 3 is the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, in the Parc de la Baie which is just on the other side of the river from Rockcliffe. See the balloons up close, meet the pilots, even take a ride yourself. There’s also a midway, classic car show, arts and crafts, buskers, and a ton of bands, including KC and the Sunshine Band on Friday, Simple Plan on Saturday. The balloon flights are very early in the morning – scheduled for 6:30 a.m. most days – but activities run all day; you can see balloons on the ground in the afternoons, and evening entertainments go right up to 11:30 p.m. Kids aged 10 and under are free (except for midway rides); anyone older needs to purchase a one-day pass for $22 or a four-day pass for $35. Balloon rides, of course are extra (a LOT extra), but possibly worth it for a once-in-a-lifetime event. Advance tickets to everything can be purchased here.

August 31 through September 3 are also the dates of the Perth Fair, at the Perth Fairgrounds. This is a more traditional agricultural fair, featuring animal shows, livestock competitions, and displays by local farmers, although there are also amusement rides and, I’m sure, cotton candy, because what’s a fair without cotton candy? Adult entry is $10, kids 7 to 12 are $2, with midway rides costing extra; gates open at noon on Friday, 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Feel like getting out for a run on the last weekend in summer? The Canadian Run will be on Saturday, September 1, at 8 a.m. It features an 8 km run and 3 km run, with the 3 km run in particular offering several kids’ age categories.

The Labour Day weekend is the last weekend for the Capital Reading Garden. It is also the last weekend for the Whales Tohora exhibit at the Museum of Nature, and the Van Gogh exhibit at the National Gallery, both of which will be moving on after September 3. It’s also the last weekend for the Mosaika sound and light show on Parliament Hill, and Sunday, September 2 is the last free Alcatel-Lucent Bikeday on the various parkways in town.

And that’s all I got! Hope you’re off and running for your very own Year of Epic.

Year of Epic – August 25/26

Ah, summer. I will miss you dearly when you’re gone. Not that I don’t value the two hours I get to myself every day during the school year, but there’s nothing like the lazy days of summer holidays. They’re EPIC, if you will.

Here’s what’s up for next weekend, your second-to-last chance to enjoy the holidays. (Events for this coming weekend, August 18/19, are here.)

Saturday, August 25 is the date of the Almonte Highland Games. I am SUPER excited about this one. Here’s a little-known Lynn fact: as a child I competed in highland dancing competitions, and that meant every summer was a tour of every Highland Games in Southern Ontario. Here in the Ottawa region, the North Lanark Games are just about the only ones within driving distance, so you should TOTALLY GO. There will be dancing, music, feats of strength, and Scottish souvenirs. Ah, memories. Tickets are $17 for adults and $6 for children ages 6-12; the games run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Almonte fairgrounds.

August 25 is also Family Day at the Ottawa Greek Festival, featuring face painting, crafts, and a chance to try your hand at Greek baking. (August 18 is also a Family Day at the festival – I left that out of last week’s post.) The festival is just off of Prince of Wales Drive south of Baseline, and there are shuttle buses to take you there and back again.

If you’ve got a teenager who is a budding environmental activist, consider the Urban Agricultural Bike Tour which runs on Sunday the 26th from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It’s a 12 km bike ride between several of the city’s community gardens, with locally grown snacks provided along the way. The cost is a $5 donation to the food bank.

Also on Sunday: the Zombie Adventure Challenge at Saunders Farm, to benefit Autism Ontario. The event runs from 9 a.m. to noon, and teams of 4 people will be given 9 challenges to complete – while being harassed by a mob of hungry zombies. Teams are required to fundraise for their entry fee of $200. It’s billed as a family event and I’m sure preteens and teens would get a kick out of it; if you have younger kids, they might just enjoy seeing the fun (or, they may have terrible nightmares, your call). Register your team by August 17 to be eligible for draws for prizes.

Sunday is also the date of the School Bus Safety Awareness training sessions at various points in the city. The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority will be hosting sessions from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. where kids can check out the school bus, learn to board safely, and get a colouring book. See here for the list of locations.

Billings Estate is having a Vintage Motorcycle Show on Sunday the 26th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; cost is included with admission. Also on Sunday, Pinhey’s Point is hosting their Ottawa River Paddle from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; a tour guide will take you exploring down the river as you learn about the area’s history. The paddle costs $10 per person and paddlers must have their own canoe or kayak and life jackets.

Down in the market, you can attend a charity Corn Roast on Sunday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. There will be hay rides, door prizes, and of course, freshly picked, roasted corn. Mmmmm.

August 24 through 26 will see Art in the City come to Confederation Park downtown. Many local artisans and food craftsmen will be selling their wares. My girls do love a good craft show.

Don’t forget it is the second weekend for Ottawa Midway Magic, a fair featuring rides and shows.

And I think that’s it! Have a great weekend.

Edited to add: This just in from Amy at Muddy Boots – the first ever International Stone Balancing Festival will be THIS weekend, August 18/19, at Remy Rapids. Apparently some of the structures are already up and are dazzling – Amy’s kids loved them. Check it out!

Year of Epic – August 18/19

It’s a little quieter next weekend in Ottawa, but there’s still lots to do. I can’t believe summer is coming to a close – I am panicking at the thought of having to make lunches. This week we started the back-to-school shopping process. I bought pants, people, PANTS. It’s just so sad.

Anyway! This weekend’s activities are here. Next week, here’s what’s on tap.

On August 18, the Lumiere Festival concludes with its Evening of Light Celebration. Dress like a fairy or knight, and bring your handmade lantern to participate in a variety of fun activities and a parade of lights. The action starts at 5 p.m. in Stanley Park.

August 16 through 19 is the first of two weekends for Ottawa Midway Magic, a fair featuring a huge midway and a series of shows, including magicians, hypnotists, and…um, professional wrestlers. The fair opens at 2 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday; it’s also open the following weekend, August 23 through 26. It all takes place at the Rideau Carleton Entertainment Center at 4837 Albion Road. You can buy an advance all-day pass here for $20, which seems worth it if you are going, as the passes are $35 when bought on site.

The pretty little town of Wakefield is holding Wakefest this weekend. It’s mainly an art festival and involves a lot of art displays and workshops, so it’s probably not for the really young kids. However, it’s a great addition to a village that’s fun to explore any other time, and there are fun activities like hula hooping on Saturday, and animation workshops on Sunday. It might make for a nice day trip for you and your art-loving teenagers.

August 17 through 26 is Pride Week here in Ottawa, and they have a surprising number of youth and family-based activities throughout the week. There’s a family picnic on Tuesday, August 21 at 4 p.m. at the Hintonburg Community Centre; there will be face painting, arts and crafts, and storytellers. As well, Capital Pride Youth is hosting a ton of parties and events, including an opening-night party at 6:30 p.m. at Club SAW on August 17.

Over at the Science and Tech Museum, August 18 and 19 are Lighthouse Days, including all kinds of special activities related to ships, navigation, the Coast Guard, and of course, tours of their own lighthouse. Everything’s included with museum admission. Over at the Goulbourn Museum, kids aged 4 through 11 can make their own boat and race it in the museum’s wading pool; the program costs $3 extra and runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the 19th.

And that’s all I got! Have a great weekend, folks.

Year of Epic – August 11/12

After a quiet couple of summer weekends, the weekend of August 11 and 12 is jam packed with activities. Hope you’ll all be in town to enjoy it!

(As usual, these events are for next weekend – stuff happening for the Civic Holiday weekend is here.)

First up, Fortissimo runs from August 9 through 11. It’s a massed military band performance, complete with cannons and gunfire, on Parliament Hill. It’s starts at 7 p.m., it’s free, and goes on for at least a couple of hours; apparently, it’s quite the experience and its reputation has really grown in the past couple of years. Then, if your kids are up for it, you can stay right through to see Mosaika, the sound and light show that happens nightly on the hill – it will start shortly after Fortissimo is over.

In the east end, check out the Navan Fair, also running August 9 through 11. Navan is just south of Orleans and its fair is a pretty big deal – there’s the usual midway and concessions, concerts (featuring Kim Mitchell on Saturday and Dallas Smith on Sunday), animal shows and displays, crafts, kids’ entertainers including The Cow Guys on Saturday afternoon, bed races, and (EPIC ALERT!) a demolition derby. Apparently the derby has a new “Ladies Minivan” category, which is the very definition of awesome. Entrance is $10 adults and $3 children for a one-day pass (four-day passes also available); midway passes are $20.

At the other end of town, the Carp Farmer’s Market hosts its annual Garlic Festival on August 11 and 12. This is probably the busiest weekend of the year for the market and in addition to all the usual cool market stuff, there’s garlic cooking, storage, and tasting demonstrations all day long. If you’re really, really into garlic, consider going even farther out to the Perth Garlic Festival, which not only features garlic cooking and tasting, but also a birds of prey show (do they like garlic?), face painting all day, and, apparently, the ability to buy yourself a bulb of garlic on a stick just like cotton candy. Sounds…tasty? The festival runs August 11 and 12 and admission is $5 adults, children free.

If you’re more of a midtown kind of person, consider the South Asian Festival, August 11 in Confederation Park by City Hall. Their website is low on details, but apparently it’s free admission, and there will be Bollywood dance demonstrations, delicious ethnic food, henna applications, group yoga, and many vendor booths to check out.

Or, consider a drive to lovely Almonte to check out the annual Puppets Up! festival, running August 11 and 12. This year’s theme is Magic, and 10 different puppet troupes will be performing in outdoor tents all weekend long. There’s also a puppet parade each day at 1:45 p.m., a craft tent, a small puppets shopping area, and many other street entertainers. Day passes are $20 adults, $10 children (children under 3 free), and the shows are suggested for all ages ranging up to 9 or 10 years old. Get your tickets in advance online here (tickets can also be purchased at the festival).

Over at the museums, the Museum of Science and Tech is hosting Science at the Games from Wednesday, August 8, through Friday, August 10. They’ve got all kinds of special Olympic-themed goings on, including athletics challenges, giant board games, soccer storytelling, and sports trivia, all included with museum admission. They’ve also got Stargazing on August 10 – free, but you have to register on their website in advance. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Museum is throwing their Ice Cream Festival on Saturday, August 11 from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. There’s puppet shows, crafts, storytime, a yoga class, and of course, the making (by hand) and tasting of yummy yummy ice cream – all included with museum admission. What kid wouldn’t love that?

At Billings Estate, their storytelling series begins on Friday, August 10 (and runs every Friday in August). Storytellers invite families to gather around the campfire and listen to some tall tales while roasting marshmallows. The stories run from 7:30 through 8:30 p.m. and the cost is $16 per family.

In the arts, Centrepointe Theatre presents the classic musical Peter Pan from August 8 through 11, including a matinee on August 11. The performances are in the studio theatre and are performed by the Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet troupe, a group of youth actors aged 12 through 17. Tickets range in price from $25.75 through $45.75 each and are available online here, or at the Centrepointe box office.

For something a little quieter (and a little cheaper), check out the Capital Reading Garden, a pop-up cafe of sorts along the banks of the canal. It’s a free outdoor space with books, chairs, tables, and wifi, for people to gather and celebrate reading in a charming environment. The location is on the canal side of Colonel By Drive, south of Laurier, approximately as far south as Somerset.

August 11 and 12 are also the dates of the second weekend of auditions for the Kwanis Ottawa Idol singing competition (for ages 13-21 at the Merivale Mall, $20 entry fee applies); and it is the second weekend for lantern making workshops at the Lumiere Festival (workshops range between $10 and $20).

Whew! I need to lie down now. Have a great weekend – if you don’t get overwhelmed by all that decision making!

Year of Epic – August 4/5/6

Can you believe we are up to the August long weekend already? Our summer is going really well, although we were all felled by a nasty cold this week which put a damper on the Awesome. Still, we’ve been to some great places with more to come. We’ll be in town for the long weekend and looking to check out some of the epic events that are happening. (As usual, these events are for two weeks out; for this weekend’s slice of epic, see here.)

The biggest party in town is the Rideau Canal Festival, which runs from the 3rd through the 6th. It’s an unusual event in that it offers a lot of different experiences for families. For example, you can register your child here for a class to learn to make stop motion animation using digital software; classes run all day Saturday and Sunday. There will also be Robotics Workshops, Hula Hoop Workshops, tons of arts and crafts, face painting, clowns, penny farthing bike rides, and Pirate Adventure tours – all taking place (or leaving from) Dow’s Lake on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday at Dow’s Lake, there’s bands all day, then fire dancers, a flotilla of lights, and fireworks in the evening. And that doesn’t even mention the events up at the canal near the Bytown Museum, which include musket demonstrations, plenty of bands and dance demonstrations, food trucks, canal tours (of course), rock carving, face painting, and on Monday, an auction of all the stone and wood carvings that were made over the weekend, and a celebration of Colonel By Day all day long at the Bytown Museum. Some things are free, some things cost money, so bring some cash with you – and also consider picking up a festival passport, which gives you access to a lot of festival events and places around downtown for just $20 per family.

Also happening all long weekend: The Busker Festival along Sparks Street. This is one of our favourite events of the year; we like to combine it with a trip to Parliament Hill. Bring lots of loonies and toonies and then just wander along Sparks Street anytime after 11 a.m. on August 2 through 6th. You’ll be dazzled by the wide range of entertainment and there’s always something new just up the block; in the past we’ve seen magicians, jugglers, a strong woman who ripped the telephone book in half, sword swallowers, clowns, and beatboxers.

If downtown sounds like too crazy a scene for you, consider Merrickville’s own Canal Festival, also running all weekend. It’s about an hour’s drive south of Ottawa, and will be a quieter event with bands, a craft show, The Bug Lady, face painting, and a petting zoo.

The Lumiere Festival kicks off its lantern making workshops on the August long weekend. There’s three weeks of lantern making leading up to the big parade of lights on August 18. The workshops are in various places at various times; see here for the schedule. Also, this isn’t really for kids but I include it here because these days, almost every parent is an amateur photographer. The Lumiere Festival is hosting a 24 Hour Photo Marathon, starting Saturday, August 4 at noon. You have to pick up a card, then try to get interesting and original photos of everything on the card within the next 24 hours. Cool!

And that’s it for the long weekend – wishing you great weather and a great civic holiday!

Year of Epic – July 28/29

Wow, where did that week go? We’re having a really good summer but it is just rocketing by. I have so many blog posts to write and yet, sitting outside with a lemonade while the kids spray each other with water guns seems much more pressing, you know what I mean?

(Also urgent: dealing with foot injuries that arise from running on our wheat-white drought-grass, which is like walking on 1000 daggers. A little rain please, Mother Nature?)

Anyway, we’re already around to this week’s Year of Epic post – these events are for the weekend of July 28/29. For stuff happening this weekend, see here.

First, I apologize for the short notice on this one, but the Cirque du Soleil is in town next week, July 24 and 25 at Scotiabank Place. It’s a Michael Jackson themed show and sure to dazzle and amaze your whole family. A few tickets are still available, so act quickly – tickets start at $50 and range up to (eek) $175.

Also starting mid-week next week is Chamberfest. Now the audiences at Chamberfest are highly intolerant of squirmy, question-asking, snack-eating children, and unfortunately, they are not offering their children’s concert series this year. However, there are two specific “bring your kids” concerts advertised as being suitable for ages 8 and up; they are The Heart and Soul of the String Quartet on July 31 and Adventures of the Smoid on August 2. So if you have a little musician in your house, pick up some tickets to either of those shows. Tickets are $22 per person and their website is a nightmare to navigate so I suggest ordering by phone, 613-234-6306.

Friday, July 27 is the first night of the Carleton Outdoor Movie Festival. Films start each night at 9 p.m. in Dundonald Park. There’s some great titles, including Emmanuel’s Gift on the 27th, E.T. on the 28th, The Muppet Movie on August 11, and Iron Man on August 18. See the full schedule here.

Actually on the weekend proper: Saturday, July 28 brings us Pirates: Band of Misfits at Place D’Orleans free Movies Under The Stars series; Sky High Magic puts on a show at the Aviation Museum (free with museum admission); and Watson’s Mill hosts a late night Paranormal Investigation suitable for tough teens aged 14+.

Also on the 28th, Scotiabank Place hosts Steering Towards Hope, a poker run in support of the Kidney Foundation of Canada. I had to wiki “poker run” – it’s a road rally for cars, motorcycles, or trucks, where you have to solve a series of clues, pick up a playing card at each station, and hope you get the best poker hand at the end. In terms of family involvement, you can take the kids out to see the finish of the poker run, and there will also be a show-and-shine (vote for the classic car or truck you think is the most epic), a kids’ zone with bouncy castles and the like, and fire trucks and other large trucks for climbing on. The cost is $35 to take part in the poker run, $10 to enter the show-and-shine, but I think just coming out to watch and cheer is free.

On Sunday, July 28, Club S.O.C.C.A. hosts Kites for Cancer at Petrie Island in the east end. Buy a kite for $10, then hang around for games, bands, and a Carribean food picnic. Also on Sunday, the Ottawa Fury women’s team hosts the finals for the Canada-wide W-League Championship. There will be four teams playing, one from each division – including the Ottawa Fury themselves, as they finished first in the Central Division. The third place team playoff is at 1 p.m. and the final-final is at 4 p.m.; I’m not sure how you get tickets to this event, so if you figure it out, let me know.

Looking into the following week, starting Wednesday, August 1, Odyssey Theatre along with Rag and Bone Puppet Theatre present A Promise is a Promise, a dramatic retelling of the renowned Robert Munsch book. The shows are outside, in Strathcona Park, at 1 p.m. every Wednesday in August. You can pick up tickets on their website, or at the box office an hour before the show; tickets are $10 adults, $5 kids.

August 1 is also the first Wednesday for two regular Wednesdays-in-August series: Super Sleuthing at the Cumberland Village Heritage Museum ($10 per child on top of museum admission; ages 6-14) and Archeology Digs at Billings Estate ($6 per child on top of museum admission).

Can you believe we’re talking about August already? I already feel sad about it. In any case, have a good weekend!

Upcoming requiring tickets:
Aug 8-11: Peter Pan at Centrepointe
Sept 7: Big Time Rush at Scotiabank Place

Year of Epic – July 21/22

First, a lighning quick Summer of Awesome update. We went to Saunders Farm this week and it was as awesome as ever – I had to drag the kids away after almost seven hours of fun in the sun. One tip I have over last year: bring refillable water bottles, and refill them often at the fresh water tap that is just outside the Farmer’s Table restaurant. We filled ours at least six times throughout the day. Hydration, people! [End PSA.]

And now, on to the events for next weekend. Events for this weekend, July 14/15, (cutting it close, though!) are here.

July 21 and 22 is Railway Weekend at the Science and Tech Museum. Besides taking a ride in a real steam train, you can take a look inside the big engine that sits out front of the museum, plus there will be special train-based tours and crafts inside. Regular museum admission applies, plus there’s an extra $2 per person ticket requried to ride the steam train (get your tickets inside when you pay for admission).

If you’re really into trains, you can hit the Science Museum on Saturday, then head to the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum for their own train day on Sunday, July 22. There you can also do train-related crafts and activities, then ride a real steam engine (weather permitting, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.). Regular museum admission applies.

In the mood for a fair? The Almonte Fair is on all next weekend and features the usual midway rides, vendors, crafts, and of course, a tractor pull. Sweet! It’s a bit of a drive – 45 minutes from downtown – but should be a fun time if you live in the west end. See the full schedule of events here. Admission is $10 for anyone over 12 and it’s open from 8 a.m. through 10 p.m. on Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

And if you’re willing to drive to Almonte, may as well go all the way to Osgoode, and check out Pioneer Day at the Osgoode Township Museum. Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the 21st, it features a classic car show, BBQ, bouncy castles, cake, crafts, and shows like Ray’s Reptiles – plus a strawberry social (YUMMY). There’s no charge for admission but the food and some of the activities cost money. The museum is technically in Vernon, by the way, which is about a 50 minute drive south of downtown Ottawa, taking Bank Street all the way.

In artsier things, the Place D’Orleans free Movie Under the Stars for July 21 is The Muppets. Over at the Bytown Museum, the first of weekly performances by Ottawa Storytellers is on Thursday, July 19 – it’s free with admission.

If you have a talented teenager, they may be interested in entering the Kwanis Idol competition. Tryouts begin the July 21/22 weekend at Merivale Mall from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and there’s a $20 entry fee.

Offbeat and super cool kids might enjoy seeing the Rideau Valley Roller Girls kick some ass at the Four-Wheel Fury Double Header at the Barbara Ann Scott Arena, on Saturday, July 21. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and kids under 10 are free (buy your tickets here). Doors open at 6 p.m. (Thanks to FameThrowa for the tip off on this one!)

Lastly, the Ottawa Fat Cats have their last two home games next weekend, at 7:05 p.m. on the Saturday and 1:05 p.m. on the Sunday. Tickets are $12 adults, $6 for children aged 6-12, and can be purchased via the links at the bottom of this page.

That’s it – have a great weekend!

Upcoming requiring tickets:
Chamberfest kid-friendly concerts on July 26 and Aug 2
A Promise is a Promise at Odyssey Theatre on July 26
Big Time Rush at Scotiabank Place on September 7

Year of Epic – July 14/15

Well, we’re three days into summer vacation around here and I’m already sunburnt, tired, frizzy-haired and perma-coated in sand. Summer is awesome!

We’ve got another relatively quiet weekend coming up in Ottawa. But that’s okay with me, because we are busy, busy, busy. Still, here’s some great things that are worth squeezing into the schedule for the weekend of July 14/15. (Which is not this coming weekend. For activities for July 7/8, see here.)


While swinging single types will likely be over at the Hope Volleyball Tournament, it’s not the most kid-friendly environment in town. Instead, consider (seriously) the Ottawa Fishing Festival. I know, it’s kind of a niche sport but the festival also has performances by magicians, mariachi bands, folk dance troops, and several local martial arts schools. You can also try out fun games like minnow races and fish golf or go for a jump on bouncy castles. Admission is free for kids under 5, $10 for ages 6 to 11, and $15 for everyone else. Plus, admission allows everyone to take part in an actual fishing competition, with judging and everything! Not for everyone, surely, but something to consider.

For something even more different, there’s the Muslim Summer Festival in Britannia Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 14. There will be a petting zoo, henna tattoos, the ubiquitous bouncy castles, a reptile show, and tons and tons of fabulous exotic food. Although I’m sure the food costs money, it seems the kids’ activities are free and they look pretty fun.

At the Diefenbunker, experience musical acts sprinkled throughout the compound as part of the Beyond the Bomb: Music of the Cold War concert. It’s on Wednesday, July 11 at 6 p.m., and costs a (hefty) $50, but it sounds just so cool. Over at the NAC, the acclaimed musical Wicked starts on July 11 and runs through July 29; tickets start at $67 and run upwards to Really Freaking Expensive, so likely you only want to take your older kids who will actually Appreciate It. Gah.

On the other end of the price spectrum, Place D’Orleans shopping mall presents their Movies Under The Stars series starting Saturday, July 14. The Lorax will start at dusk in the southwest parking lot, and it’s free. Meanwhile, the Cumberland Museum is having a Classic Car Show on Sunday the 15th, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; I believe you have to pay regular admission (which is pretty cheap) to get in.

Next weekend is also the date of the Ottawa Cycling Club’s Grand Prix, which includes an event for 13 and 14 year old avid bikers. Registration (for the kids) is $20 each and entry to the race will be closed on July 11.

Lastly, I’d just like to mention A Company of Fools, which is a troupe here in Ottawa well known for its wacky outdoor productions of Shakespeare plays in Ottawa parks each summer. This is an event I have never considered taking the kids to, because kids? and Shakespeare? outside? late at night? seems like a recipe for disaster. However, I have heard really good things about how accessible and funny their shows are, and also, I just learned that they start at 7 p.m., which seems quite within reach for summertime bedtimes. The show this year is Henry V and performances have already started, but there are still plenty to come; you can see their full schedule here. I think they accept donations but you do not need a ticket in advance, so when they’re coming to a park near you, just come out and have a good time.

And that’s it for next week – have a great weekend!