Year of Epic – July 7/8

Ugh, I am completely swamped with end-of-school-year tasks and Canada Day planning, so this week’s Year of Epic post is both late and kind of crappy. But in my defense, I have already cooked eight different dishes this morning, and it’s only 1:30 p.m., the kids are alternately hyperactive, screaming, or demanding ice cream, and it’s about 45 degrees in the house thanks to the oven being on for four hours straight. So it’s a quick post and then off for a nap, I think.

Thankfully, July 7/8 is a pretty quiet weekend in the city – I guess everyone figures they’ll still be cleaning up from Canada Day. Note that these activities are for next weekend – if you’re looking for July 1 goings on, see here.

The biggest festival in town next week (and the week after) is Bluesfest which starts the 4th and runs through the 15th. I almost didn’t even mention it here as I don’t really see it as an event for kids – certainly there isn’t any kid-specific or family-specific programming. But quite a few concerts don’t run too late, and kids under 10 are free, so if you’re a better parent than I and are willing to brave an outdoor concert with your kids, bless you, and have a good time. See their website for a full lineup and note that tickets are required for every performance.

Over at the museums, there’s stargazing at the Museum of Science on July 6, and they are also having an interesting Musical Adventure Weekend on the 7th and 8th, featuring shows, crafts, and a scavenger hunt (both free with museum admission, but stargazing requires advance registration). Meanwhile, the Museum of Aviation is having a weekend celebration of Canada’s First Air Mail, featuring a scavenger hunt around the museum (free with admission).

If you live in the west end, or are just curious about their fancy new multi-book self-checkout system, the Hazeldean Branch of the Public Library is having its grand re-opening on July 7 after having been closed for six months of renovations. It’s actually already open, but on July 7 they’ll have a reception with snacks and cake (yay!) at 2 p.m., and then a magic show at 3 p.m.

If you’re willing to drive out to Osgoode, you can check out the Medieval Festival, running all weekend long. There will be jousting and horseshoes and ye olde colouring contest, as well as lots of food. Cost is $6 per person for a day pass or $30 for a family of four.

In arts, the Mosaika light and sound show on Parliment Hill starts on July 6 – it’s a great show but be prepared for a late night as it doesn’t start until dusk. Lastly, the NAC orchestra will be playing Lord of the Rings on July 5, 6, and 7. They’ll be showing the movie The Fellowship of the Ring and the orchestra will play along with all the fantastic music from that film. It’s a long movie and a late night so this is definitely for older kids or teens, but if you have a fantasy lover in your house, it’s a can’t miss. I’ll be there myself on the Thursday evening so say hello if you spot me.

And that’s it – have a great weekend!

Upcoming requiring tickets:
Wicked at the NAC – starting July 11
Chamberfest children’s concerts – July 21 and August 2
Puppets Up! festival – August 11 and 12

Year of Epic – June 30/July 1

(Note that these events are for next weekend, June 30/July 1. For events this coming weekend, see here.)

Next weekend is the July 1 long weekend, and we live in Ottawa. That means you can basically fall out your front door and find some sort of party going on. I tend to be a little Scrooge McDuck myself about Canada Day – I can’t stand the crowds, and the last time I was on Parliament Hill, I was so attacked by mosquitos while waiting for the fireworks I swore I’d never be back. But even if The Hill isn’t your thing, there are so, so many other things going on for July 1 (seriously: SO MANY), that there’s really no excuse. If you’ll be in town, get out there!

Now before we talk about Canada Day itself, let’s discuss a few events happening in the week leading up to the big day…

Starting Tuesday, June 26 and running through Saturday, June 30 is the Sunset RCMP Musical Ride. It starts at 7:30 p.m. and is at the RCMP Stables at the Canadian Police College. Can you really call yourself Canadian if you’ve never seen the Musical Ride? I think not.

Also, Monday, June 25 is kick-off day for the Changing of the Guard, which happens each summer morning at 10 a.m. on Parliament Hill. Warning: your children may find this boring as all hell. But if you have out-of-town guests, it’s pretty much a must-do. Just bring lots of snacks and maybe a GameBoy or two. As well, outdoor guided tours of the hill start on Saturday, June 30 (slightly more interesting to children due to the presence of many cats, and the ability to run free on the big lawn).

On to Canada Day! Deep breath.

The big action is, of course, downtown. This site is your bible for downtown activities. Stuff will be happening on the hill, along Rideau, in Major’s Hill Park, across the river at Jacques Cartier Park, and in Confederation Park. The Parliament Hill schedule starts at 9 a.m. with a really cool Carillon Concert (that means, played by the bells in the Peace Tower); concerts and buskers and other entertainment runs all day, finishing off with the fireworks at 10 p.m. Jacques Cartier Park is really the best place to go if you have young kids; bring a picnic and stay all day for bouncy castles, face painting, cheerleading demonstrations, breakdancing competition (SO COOL – this one starts at 6 p.m.), outdoor movies, and dance shows. There will also be some sort of fancy fire juggling show in the early evening – I think it’s at 8:30 p.m. – so if you can’t quite stay up for the fireworks, this is a good substitute. Over at Major’s Hill Park, there’s a really great barbeque, multicultural displays with performances and crafts, and a cool cowboy area including inflatable pony bouncers. Action at both parks starts around 10 a.m.; a shuttle bus is available to take you back and forth between them but really, it’s not a long walk and if you have a big stroller, it’s easier to just hoof it across the bridge than try to squeeze onto the shuttle.

Last year I took the girls downtown just for the morning of July 1, and I actually have to admit it was a pretty good time. There was just so much to do, and all of it free. We found parking at the Rideau Centre indoor parking garage (it was pretty full by 10 a.m., but when we left at around 4 p.m. there were still a handful of spots on the top level, so I’d recommend trying there any time throughout the day).

Also, if you’re looking for even more information on exactly what’s going on downtown, check out the Ottawa Kiosk Canada Day Page which is all hooked up to the full insider info. There’s also a great guide to stuff happening on Rideau Street and in Confederation Park over at the Ottawa Sun Canada Day page.

Okay! Let’s move on to museums. The Museum of Science, Museum of Nature, Museum of Civilization, National Art Gallery, and Museum of Agriculture are all having free admission on Canada Day. At the Museum of Science, you can play with bottle rockets, tour the lighthouse, and visit the observatory – all super, super cool, trust me. At the Museum of Agriculture, you can make and taste your own ice cream; over at the Museum of Civilization, a new exhibit is opening on Canada day, “A Queen and Her Country,” celebrating the life of Queen Elizabeth II.

Over at the NAC, there’s a whole program of free concerts and activities on Canada Day. A mass choir performs at 10 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.; there’s the Canadian Forces band at 11 a.m. and hip-hop dancing at 1 p.m. Kids crafts, face painting, and colouring runs all day from 11 through 4 p.m., and there’s a lunchtime BBQ (which costs a nominal amount).

The Mackenzie King Estate is having a quieter celebration, featuring birthday cake, crafts, music, and organized games. That sounds like more my speed. Over on Victoria Island, there’s an Aboriginal Experiences event featuring First Nations drumming, dancing, storytelling, and crafts. Over at the Currency Museum, there’s crafts and a fun outdoor trivia game where you can win prizes. The city museums – Pinhey’s Point, Billings Estate, and Cumberland Heritage Village – are all having special games and crafts to celebrate “Dominion Day” – regular museum admission applies.

Whew! Exhausted yet? Because there’s more!

If you’d like to stay away from the downtown core, there’s outlier events in the suburbs. Canada Day in Kanata is a huge party in Walter Baker Park, featuring amusement park rides (totally not free), bouncy castles, face painting, tons of food, and bands (some stuff is free, some isn’t). Get there EARLY if you want parking; leave late if you want to see headliner Kim Mitchell and watch the fireworks. Canada Day in Barrhaven features a battle of the bands, a kids’ zone, tons of food, and fireworks, all starting at 11 a.m. in Clarke Fields Park. Queen Juliana Park in Nepean has amusement park rides, pony rides, music, and a nighttime laser light show. Canada Day in Orleans takes place on Petrie Island starting at 11 and features a magic show, visits by princesses, Little Ray’s and Radical Science, free music all day, and fireworks at 10 p.m.

And I think that might be it. If you hear of anything else noteworthy for Canada Day, please let me know (although it’s not like it’ll be hard to find an activity, or anything, jeez).

Also, most people have July 2 off as a holiday. Just wanted to mention that the Museum of Nature is closed that day (as it is regularly closed on Mondays), as are most malls and other shopping centres.

Have a great Canada Day!

Year of Epic – June 23/24

I’m going to try (ha!) to make this week’s entry short, as I’m in a total panic about what to wear to BOLO. To make matters more complex, I am drawing a blank as to what I wore back in year 2. I remember year 1, I remember year 3 – year 2, nothing. So I may accidentally duplicate my outfit, which I think we can all agree would be TRAGIC. It’s a highly stressful situation.

(Note that these activities are for next weekend, June 23-24. For stuff going on this weekend, June 16-17, see here.)

Festivals! The big event this weekend is the Dragonboat Festival. It’s pretty cool to go out and see the teams rowing in formation during the races. But the festival is about much more than just boats on the water; there’s also a ton of food vendors, other displays, and best of all, all-day children’s performers including Spartacat, A Company of Fools, and Paddling Puppeteers (see the full performance schedule here). If you can get a sitter, there’s a pretty awesome concert lineup for the evenings, including big acts like Spirit of the West, Said the Whale, and David Usher. Everything takes place at Mooney’s Bay Park on Riverside Drive, and the best part? Activities are all free! The races run from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

There’s also the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival, which looks really interesting and different. It runs Thursday through Sunday at Lebreton Flats (4 to 8 p.m. Thurs and Fri, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the weekend). There will be pony rides, bouncy castles, giant hamster balls (!!), music, stiltwalkers, arts and crafts, Metis games, and a whole area devoted to the centennial of the War of 1812. And the best part? Both Saturday and Sunday at noon there’s a huge competition powwow, which is certainly going to be a sight to see.

In arts next week: June 22 through 24 features the Sing-a-long version of Grease at the Bytown theatre; the Sunday showing is at 5 p.m. for those with preteens with earlier bedtimes. Tickets are $17 in advance, and advance tickets are definitely recommended. Over at the NAC, from June 20 through 23, the 7 Fingers present PSY, a “mind-blowing” circus featuring some pretty amazing acrobatics and tricks. Tickets start at $35, so this one is probably for an older tween or teenage crowd.

Events on Friday! Bob FM presents the first of their Movies on the Beach series. Bring some lawn chairs and snacks and you can catch Captain America in the great outdoors of Walter Baker Park, in Kanata. The movie starts at dusk.

Events on Saturday! It’s CHEO’s annual Teddy Bear Picnic on the grounds of Rideau Hall. We were all set to go last year when it was cancelled due to lightning conditions (sniff), so we are IN for this year. The fun starts at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast ($3 adults, $2 kids), followed by the usual games, rides, food, and crafts (most free, but some have a nominal charge attached). Also on Saturday (Sunday too), Thomas the Tank Engine with special guest Angelina Ballerina will be doing two shows daily, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., at St. Laurent shopping mall. I think this is free but it’s sure to be a madhouse so get there very, very early. If you’ve got an older child, Toys on Fire is having another Beyblade tournament on June 23 – watch their Facebook page for details.

Events on Sunday! The Community Cup is a multicultural event in Brewer’s Park from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There’s a soccer tournament for adults, while kids can explore games, crafts, clowns, and puppets in the kids’ zone. There’s also a ton of great international food, a chance to try out a new language, and a place to try a wide variety of sports from clubs all over town. If you haven’t had a chance to visit Watson’s Mill yet this year, Sunday is a great day for it as it’s their annual Strawberry Social, featuring strawberry shortcake, lemonade, music, and Scottish dancing ($10 adults, $5 kids).

Lastly, if you feel like playing hooky on Monday, June 25th, you can catch the annual Inspection of the Guard at Rideau Hall, at 10 a.m.

Have a great weekend!

Year of Epic – June 16/17

The school year is winding down and I’m starting to think about our Summer of Awesome plans. I’ll be posting my list of summer activities soon, which includes both scheduled events like shows and festivals, and do-anytime events like museums and beaches.

One of the things that is on my list every year, and yet we never do it, is strawberry picking. The season always arrives and then goes before I’m even aware of it. This year the season is even earlier than usual because of the unusually warm weather we had back in March. Some pick-your-own places are already open, so I wanted to mention it here in case it’s on your own Summer of Awesome list. I hope to be heading out to Dekok’s Berry Farm soon, as it is already open; there’s also Shouldice’s three locations and Proulx Farm which will be opening soon.

Now, let’s talk Year of Epic. Here’s the activities for Ottawa for next weekend, June 16/17 (activities for this coming weekend, June 9/10, are here).

Saturday, June 16 marks opening day for Ottawa’s Beaches. At the moment we are experiencing some unusually rainy and cool weather here in Ottawa, let’s hope everything suns up a bit by next weekend.

Saturday is family day at the Festival Franco-Ontarien. There will be unusually creative face painting, circus acts and buskers, and an interactive music show at 10:30 a.m. Everything takes place at Major’s Hill Park between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.; cost is $10 per person, children under 12 free. (Also, I assume it is all in French.)

Saturday is also the Caravibe Beach Festival out at Petrie Island in Orleans, starting at noon. There will be a parade and street party; tons of food and music; and bouncy castles and climbers for the kids. It’s basically a huge party celebrating Carribean culture, which makes it virtually impossible to not have fun. Children under 12 are free; adults are $15.

The June 16/17 weekend is the second weekend for the Italian Festival in Little Italy (along Preston Street north of Carling). Last weekend I didn’t mention it because there weren’t too many kid activities, but this weekend there are two events of interest. First, on the Sunday, there’s a bike race, and after years of being forced to watch the Tour de France around here, our kids actually enjoy a good bike race. It’s called the Preston Street Crit and I believe there are some kid races too. Second, on both the Saturday and the Sunday it’s the Ottawa Ferrari Festival, where you can go and see lots and lots of Ferraris. Luigi would be in heaven.

The Fringe Festival starts on June 14, and this year they are having two weekend drama camps for kids to help parents who would like to attend the show. The first camp is on Saturday, June 16 and the next is the following Saturday. It’s for ages 5 to 10; you can pre-register or drop-in register (if space remains) from 1 to 1:30 p.m. The kids will create an original play between 1:30 and 5 p.m., then perform it for their returning parents. The cost is $10 per child (or free if you have a Fringe pass).

Whew, my wrists are cramping up! Time for the speed round.

Saturday: Sporty kids might want to check out the Baxter All Terrain Kids Triathalon (for ages 4 through 19), or the Junior Athletic Competition hosted by Max Keeping at St. Patrick’s School (registration required). For the less sporty, June 16 is also the date of MegaFort at the War Museum, where kids are invited to build a massive fort all day long using Lego and Duplo (included with museum admission). Fort-building continues on the Sunday, as well.

Sunday: It’s Father’s Day! Celebrate with the Father’s Day Antique Car Show at Billings Estate (included with museum admission) or the Missiles and Gadgets Show at the Diefenbuker. There’s also the War of 1812 Celebration at the Goulbourn Museum, featuring games and reenactments, or the June Jive at Fairfields (Nepean Museum), featuring music, dancing, and instrument making. Lastly for Sunday, June 17, it’s the last Kinderconcert of the year at the NAC – All Aboard to Planet Alloy, a sweet and short little concert for very young children with both English and French presentations.

Upcoming and requiring tickets:
June 20-23 – PSY Circus/dance show at NAC (older kids)
June 22-24 – Singalong Grease at the Bytown Theatre

Have a great weekend!

Year of Epic – June 9/10

Thanks so much for everyone who left a comment supporting these posts, You’re all epic – epic like a cheetah, man.

What’s up in Ottawa next weekend? SO FREAKIN’ MUCH. (For info on stuff going on this weekend, see here.)

The biggest event for June 9/10 is WestFest. What started as a community get-together has ballooned into such a big event, I don’t know how the organizers handle it all. Confession: we have actually never been to WestFest before because I’m just terrified of the parking situation. However, that’s really no excuse because there’s so much to see and do – and it’s all free. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, there will be multiple bands, authors, and slam poets performing, including headliner and Canadian legend Steven Page. In the streets, there will be booths hosted by various companies, featuring bouncy castles, balloon animals, musical acts, visual art displays, and prize giveaways.

In theatre next weekend, Two Rivers Musical Productions presents Fiddler on the Roof at Arnprior District High School from June 7-9 (adults $15, youth $10). 9th Hour Theatre Company is putting on The Secret Garden, a beloved book from my youth, at The Gladstone Theatre from June 6-10 (tickets range from $16 to $29). Also, Kanata Theatre Youth presents Beauty and the Beast Jr. on stage at the Ron Maslin Playhouse on June 8 and 9 (all tickets $5).

Saturday, June 9 is also the date of the annual CHEO BBQ, a fun outdoor sporty event held at Shefford Park. You can register a team for the ultimate frisbee or beach volleyball tournaments (players must be 16+). For families and kids, there’s a 5K walk (parents are $20, kids are free, register everyone here). There’s also a family zone featuring games and crafts, and performances by Radical Science, Ray’s Reptiles, and OH MY GOD, Yaki. Yaki is a local singer of children’s songs, and he played at every single one of my kids’ JK classes at school, and they ADORE him, he is HUGE over here. We may have to go just to see him. And get an autograph, OF COURSE.

If your kids can handle a bit of a late night, the Mosaika Show is running next week on Parliament Hill. I think it’s some kind of music/lasers/fireworks type event. Usually this show runs in late July and August, but this year they are having a special June presentation for one week only, June 5 – 13 (excepting the 8th and 9th), at 10 p.m. Kay, that’s pretty late. But I hear it’s amazing. Maybe if we all nap? In any case, the show is free so if you don’t make it to the end, it’s not as big a deal.

Lastly, the Mothercraft Touch-A-Truck event runs on the Sunday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the parking lot at Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre. It’s a really fun morning for kids that love really big vehicles – there’s everything from 18 wheelers to emergency vehicles to army trucks to the bookmobile. Kids are free to climb inside most of the trucks and there can be an awful lot of horn honking going on, so be sure to warn small kids with sensitive ears that it’s going to be noisy. Inside the mall they have things like balloon animals, face painting, and 4x4s to drive around a small track. The cost is $6 per person, and last year things like the face painting were asking for additional donations.

Upcoming and requiring tickets/registration:

June 16 – Baxter All Terrain Kids Triathalon (for kids aged 4-19)
June 19 and 26 – Ottawa Fringe Festival (has a new kids camp on the Saturday afternoons, so shop for your own tickets to shows on these days now)
June 17 – All Aboard to Planet Alloy kinderconcert at the NAC

Just Curious

These past couple of weeks I’ve been worried that the Year of Epic posts are clogging up my blog feed with a lot of junk that is not interesting to those outside Ottawa, and perhaps not even interesting to those inside Ottawa.

So, just wondering – do you like them? Want to keep them and see more? Or could you take them or leave them? Want me to move them to a separate blog stream?

Let me know!

Year of Epic – June 2/3

Isn’t New York supposed to be the city that never sleeps? Apparently, once Victoria Day hits, Ottawa takes over the mantle. I guess we just want to make the most of the blink-of-your-eye summer. In any case, every time I think I’m going to make a “quick post” about what’s on next weekend, I find there are about 1000 things to write about. Jeez, Ottawa, slow it down a little!


Here’s what’s going on next weekend, June 2/3. For info on what’s happening this coming weekend, see here.

One of Ottawa’s biggest festivals, the Ottawa International Children’s Festival, starts on May 30 and runs through June 3. There are a ton of plays and performances going on – you can buy tickets for specific shows on their website. But even if you haven’t bought tickets for a sit-down play, you can just wander over to the festival grounds at Lebreton Flats Park and catch lots of fun stuff, like buskers, face painting, story telling, crafts, and bike riding. There’s lots to see and do; it’s well worth checking out.

Also next weekend is one of my all-time favourite Ottawa events – Doors Open. You can get behind-the-scenes access to dozens of city-owned and heritage buildings that are otherwise not open to the public. We’ve been to the city’s traffic control building and its water treatment plant; you can see everything from churches to yacht clubs to radio stations to the Central Archives. COOL. Now, here I have to admit that there’s quite an educational component to Doors Open and my kids are sometimes, shall we say, LESS than appreciative. But I adore this event, and every year my husband limits me to just one location so I spend hours thinking about which special place will win my heart this year. Word to the wise: although the event is on both Saturday and Sunday, many buildings only participate on the Saturday, so check the website carefully for days and times. Oh, and it’s all free.

Also all next weekend: Orleans Festival, featuring bands, carnival rides, artisans, food samples from local restaurants, and free stuff for kids including bouncy castles, crafts, face painting, and OH MY GOD, meet your favourite princess on Saturday! That’s a win right there. The action takes place in and around the Shenkman Arts Centre.

Or, you can spend the weekend at the New Art Festival, which used to be called Art in the Park and will be so to me until the DAY I DIE. I dragged my family to this last year because I am determined to get some real art in here, instead of just posters of Lightning McQueen. However, it was a bit of a bust because it was very hot, there was very little shade, and it’s basically a shopping mall set up in a park and our kids were super bored. There are some spontaneous musical performances, snack locations, and even some cute crafts on sale that our kids could spend their pocket money on. But still, I would recommend this for an older pre-teen or teenage crowd who is interested in shopping. (Stupid children.)

Dear Lord. I’m less than halfway through the list and I’ve already written 1000 words. Time for the speed round!

Saturday: Spend the day learning about bike repair and decorating your bike at Capital Velo Fest, then older kids and families can join in on Tour La Nuit, a car-free bike ride through city streets ($20 for adults for the Tour La Nuit, preregistration requried). If you’re a dad (or mom) who has a motorcycle, you can sign up for The Ride for Dad, a tour through the city to fundraise for prostate cancer; if you don’t have a ride of your own, perhaps your little motorcycle lover would like to just come out and watch. Watson’s Mill in Manotick is open as part of Doors Open, but is also celebrating Dickinson Days with a parade on Friday, and crafts and trade demonstrations throughout the weekend. Lastly, if you have a baby or are expecting one soon, you’ll probably want to check out Infant Information Day, a free event put on by the city featuring a variety of classes, sessions, and company displays at South Fallingbrook Community Centre.

Sunday: Visit the Enchanted Tea Party at the RA Centre – pick any time between 11am to 5pm to start your hour-and-a-half long adventure through several activity stations. The $20 ticket price for kids includes various games, crafts, performances, and a tea party finish; adults cost $10 for just the tea party. All proceeds go to the Children’s Wish Foundation. Or, enter your (slightly) older kids in the Pokemon tournament put on by toy store Toys On Fire – it’s apparently an “officially sanctioned” tournament so I guess if you’re looking to raise a professional Pokemon-er, this is your first step. The entry fee is $5 and there will be prizes (and, presumably, GLORY). Personally, I am super excited about the Classic Auto Show in the Byward Market, because I love old cars and my son does too.

And now I have to go lie down and gather my strength, because heavens, there is a LOT of can’t miss stuff going on out there. Whew!

Year of Epic – May 26/27

I’m mired down in Blog Out Loud stuff this week, so hopefully a quicker post than usual. These are the events for NEXT weekend, the 26/27. If you’re looking for stuff going on this weekend, the Victoria Day weekend, see here.

Next weekend is the Gloucester Fair, one of the bigger fairs in town. Dudes, there will be barrel racing. And bull riding. And monster trucks. How could you possibly resist? An all-day pass is $20, $14 for shrimps under 42 inches.

On Saturday, it’s the Great Glebe Garage Sale, legend in this town for people who want to score deals. A lot of kids enjoy a good garage sale – as long as they have a little pocket money of their own to spend. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and carpool if you can.

Also on Saturday, it’s the Monster Truck Spectactular at Scotiabank Place. I can actually hear this show from my house, and I live halfway across town. It’s a can’t-miss for the vehicle lovers in your house – just make sure to bring earplugs, or better yet, those big headphone-like ear protectors (which actually, are the #1 draw for our own kids – screw the machines, we get to wear ear phones!). Tickets are $22 to $36.

Next weekend is also Ottawa Marathon weekend (didn’t this used to be called the National Capital Race Weekend?). I think it’s too late to register but it is a ton of fun going out to see the racers. Our kids really like watching the marathoners come in to the finish line and there’s also a small area of vendors and food kiosks to check out. You can get info on the best places to watch here.

If you’re into water sports instead, MEC is putting on Paddlefest down at Mooney’s Bay Park. Most events are free, including canoe races, boat exhibits, and on-land paddle training. You can also pay $10 for an on-water clinic.

If you’d prefer something artier, there’s plenty of plays going on next weekend. You can catch Young Frankenstein at Centrepointe (likely for older kids only, thanks to a few slightly raunchy jokes and a ticket price of $90, eep); The King and I at St. Paul’s High School ($25 adults, $15 kids), or see Circle Mirror Transformation at the GCTC as part of their Playtime program (parents watch the play at 3:30 p.m., while kids are supervised for crafts and games, $31.25 per adult ticket).

Lastly, the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum is having its Rural Roots festival next weekend. For museum entry ($18 per family) you can help them plant their gardens, watch demonstrations of heritage farm equipment, and if weather permits, take a ride on a scale model steam train.

Upcoming and requiring tickets:
May 30 to June 3 – Ottawa International Children’s Festival
June 8/9 – Beauty and the Beast at Ron Maslin Playhouse in Kanata

Year of Epic – May 19-21 2012

I’ve had some requests to put up the Year of Epic posts a week or more in advance, for planning purposes. So sorry to do this to those of you who don’t live in Ottawa, but here’s another YOE post that is for NEXT weekend, May 19-20. Oh, that’s a long weekend! EPIC.

If you want to know what’s going on THIS weekend, see here.

Also, at the bottom I’m going to list a few things that are upcoming that require ticket buying, so if you are interested, you can snap some up before they sell out.

So, let’s talk Victoria Day Weekend fun!

Friday, May 18 is International Museum Day, but I am disappointed to see that most of Ottawa’s museums aren’t doing anything special. The Museum of Nature has free admission, but only to their permanent exhibits – you’ll still have to pay to see the movies or Whales Tohora. The Art Gallery is having some special tours, events, and draws. School groups can book a tour of the back room archives at the Museum of Science and Tech – for a fee. The Museum of Civilization isn’t doing anything special, but it is the opening day of their new exhibit MAYA, which explores the Mayans and their apparent end-of-the-world prediction for 2012.

Also Friday the 18th is the One World Art Exhibit. It showcases art created by kids in their program over the past six months, and also features slam poetry, dancing, musicians, and other entertainments. They’ll also be doing some performances the following day at the Lowertown Summer Festival, a big party all day long in Jules Morin Park.

Saturday is day one of the annual Sheep Shearing Festival at the Museum of Agriculture. You can see sheep being sheared, watch totally awesome sheepdog agility competition, and of course, visit with new lambs (aw!). You can also make felt, card wool, and make a sheep craft from cotton balls (double aw!). The festival runs all three days of the long weekend, regular museum admission applies.

If you happen to be at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum on Saturday the 19th, there’s a cool magic show on – Sky High Magic, included with admission.

Sunday May 20 is the first Sunday for the Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikedays, which in my opinion are one of the things that make summer in Ottawa really, really great. This year there are several different paths and streets that will be closed on Sunday mornings for bikers, skateboarders, and rollerbladers. The traditional family ride is along the Ottawa River Parkway, and if you don’t feel like carting all your bikes in from the burbs, you can just throw the kids’ bikes in the back of the van then rent adult wheels at the Bixi bike rental kiosk at Booth and Vimy.

Fairfields at the Nepean Museum is opening their summer season on May 20 with a traditional Victoria Day Tea, featuring activities for the whole family, for the cost of a nominal donation.

The Ottawa Fat Cats – that’s baseball for y’all who normally only care about hockey – open their season at home on the long weekend, and there are afternoon games at 1:05 p.m. on both Sunday and Monday. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for kids, and free for children under 6.

And lastly, if your kids are up for a nap then you might be able to take them out to celebrate the long weekend fireworks. There are fireworks on Sunday night as part of the Tulip Festival, at 9:30 p.m. at Dow’s Lake. Then the official city fireworks are on Monday as part of the Victoria Day Festival, at 10 p.m. in Juliana Park (near Prince of Wales and Preston).


Upcoming stuff that requires tickets that you might want to consider:
May 25 – The King and I at St. Paul’s High School
May 25/26 – Young Frankenstein at Centrepointe Theatre
May 26 – Monster Truck Spectatular at Scotiabank Place
May 30-June 3 – many shows and performances at the Ottawa International Children’s Festival

Year of Epic – May 12-13 2012

Do other cities have as much stuff to do on any given weekend as Ottawa? I think not. Here’s what’s epic like a cheetah this weekend.

On Friday, the Victoria Day Festival opens in Queen Juliana Park, corner of Carling and Preston. There’s midway rides, a petting zoo, buskers and musicians. Next weekend, on the 21st, the festival is the site of the official Victoria Day Fireworks.

And speaking of fairs, the Kanata Spring Fair (i.e. the midway ride/games/cotton candy thing your kids are always begging to go to) is currently set up at the Kanata Centrum, and if you hurry, you can enter the Ottawa Start contest to win passes for this weekend. Or don’t. Because I totally want to win! Forget I said anything.

Also on Friday, come meet and get an autograph from baseball legend Jose Canseco. from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hazeldean Mall in Kanata. That’s leading up to the Home Runs for Autism event which takes place on Saturday starting at 2 p.m. at the Ottawa Stadium (home of the Ottawa Fat Cats). Jose will be competing in a home run derby versus local baseball fan Evan Malamud, then there will be an all-star baseball game featuring local celebs and athletes, and a silent auction. Tickets are $12 (free for kids under 6) and are available on the website.

Saturday is the first day of the very first ever Ottawa Comicon. I’m not sure if we will be going despite the fact that Boba Fett, Lou Ferigno, and (swoon) WILLIAM FREAKIN’ SHATNER will be there. My kids are just a little young for comics yet. But lots of other families I know want to go to there. So they are. I hear tickets for Saturday are just about sold out so if you’d like to go, act now – Saturday passes are $25 and Sunday passes are $20, available on the website.

If you’re up for a walk downtown on Saturday, Chinatown Remixed is on all along Somerset Street West, from 1:30 pm to 5 p.m. It’s a display of various artists and musicians in the street. And if the street entertainments are not enough, check out Andrea’s post about a day with kids in Chinatown because it is AWESOME. Oh sorry, EPIC.

Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., at Centrepointe Theatre in Nepean, Les Petits Ballets presents Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It’s a school performance, but unlike the recitals of my youth which involved waiting through three hours of amateur dancing to I’m A Little Teapot just so you could see your own kid for two minutes, this is a full ballet production featuring gorgeous costumes, sets, and original choreography. Professional dancers play the lead roles and older students of the ballet school play supporting roles. If you have a young dancer who isn’t quite ready to sit through the epic that is The Nutcracker, this is a great alternative, as it’s less expensive and only 1 1/2 hours long (plus a short intermission). Tickets are $20 adults, $17 children.

Also on Saturday: opening day at Carp Farmers’ Market, and the first 200 moms get a gift of free soap.

Sunday is Mother’s Day! The Tulip Festival is having a Mad Hatter Tea Party which is in the Market next to The Bay on George Street (apparently – the Tulip Festival website SUCKS, it is the worst ever for finding information about where and when, GAH). It starts at 10 a.m. and runs to 5 p.m. You can make your own Mad Hatter hat, play games, watch buskers, and then sit down for tea in front of Alice in Wonderland playing on the big screen. We went last year and it was a lot of fun – it’s all free except for the snacks part (or, if you have a billion allergies like us, bring your own snacks).

The MEC is hosting Bikefest Ottawa on Sunday, where you can attend a breakfast brunch, then go for a nice bike ride with the whole family either through the downtown core or around Gatineau Park – all for free. Back at home base (Lebreton Flats) there will be free bike repairs, tune ups, and helmet checks, or you can pay a small fee for a workshop which will teach you how to fix your bike yourself. It doesn’t cost much but space is limited, so please visit the website to register if you want to ride.

Also on Sunday: Pinhey’s Point, Billings Estate, and Cumberland Heritage Village Museum are all having Mother’s Day Teas. Tea crawl! Who’s with me?