Ottawa Family Fun

Dust off your jingle bells, dig out your Santa hat and strap on your reindeer antlers! Welcome to one of my favourite holiday traditions, the original and most comprehensive listing of all the Christmas, Holiday and Santa Claus parades for Ottawa, Eastern Ontario and West Quebec.

Photo of Santa Claus at the Christmas parade 2013

Sometimes the parade season sneaks up on me, but with the few light flurries we’ve already had, I feel like I’m ready for the holiday fun to begin. Did you know that this post annual post is officially a teenager now? I almost didn’t compile the list this year, but after thirteen (!) years, I didn’t feel like I could stop now! Take a close look at the details – I noticed a lot of parades moving from a traditional week or day of the week, and lots of route changes for this year, too. There are more than 20 parades crammed into one three-week period!

Here’s all the info I could scare up about the 2018 Ottawa, Eastern Ontario and West Quebec Santa Claus and Christmas parade line-up, in chronological order:

Kanata Santa Claus Parade
Saturday November 17, 2018 at 10:00 am (note the change to day of the week and time versus previous years!) The parade begins at Terry Fox and Castlefrank and proceeds Castlefrank to Abbeyhill Drive and on to Hazeldean Mall. Food and money will be collected by volunteer firefighters along the route for the Kanata Food Cupboard. Join Santa at the mall after the parade!

Ottawa Help Santa Toy Parade
Saturday, November 17 starting at 11:00 am. The parade starts at Ottawa City Hall and moves west on Laurier Avenue to Bank Street, then follows Bank Street south to TD Place. New toys (no used toys, please) and cash donations will be collected by the Ottawa Firefighters.

Cornwall Santa Claus Parade
Saturday November 17, starting at 5:00 pm. The parade will run from St. Lawrence Intermediate School, 1450 Second Street East. It will then proceed west. The theme for the parade is “Christmas Movies.” Join us afterwards for Santa’s Street Hockey Challenge!

Petawawa Santa Claus Parade
Sunday November 18, 2018 at 1:00 pm. Parade departs from the Wolfe Plaza. The parade will then travel along Mohns Avenue, Doran Road, Herman Street to Murphy Road and terminate in the Civic Centre parking.

Barrhaven Lions Club Light Up the Night Santa Claus Parade
Sunday, November 18, starting at 5:30 pm. (Note the change back to Sunday this year!) The parade runs down Strandherd Drive, starting at Beatrice Drive and ending at the park n ride, where it turns north for dispersal. Please remember to bring non perishable food items or cash donations for the Barrhaven Food Cupboard.

Kemptville Kinsmen Santa Parade
Saturday, November 24 starting at 5:00 pm – note late afternoon start time. Parade Leaves Kemptville College Parking Lot (Stinson Rd lot), from College Rd turns right on Concession road, turns left onto Clothier Street then left onto Prescott Street. Parade ends at Holy Cross School. The theme is “North Pole Fantasy.”

Brockville Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, November 24, starting at 5:00 pm. The parade is in the evening again this year with a theme of “Light Up Christmas. The parade will be marshalled along North Augusta Road from Pearl Street to Reynolds Road using the street and various parking lots.

Carleton Place Santa Parade
Saturday, November 24 starting at 5:00 pm. Wear red and white, bring your food donation with you. This year’s parade theme is ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Pembroke Santa Claus Parade of Lights
Saturday, November 24 starting at 5:30 pm. This winter, we will be celebrating the most exciting moments and traditions of Christmas Morning. The Santa Claus Parade of Lights will transform Downtown Pembroke into a joyous commemoration of the Christmas season. The parade will begin at Moncion Metro and end at Festival Hall.

Arnprior Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, November 24, starting at 6:00 pm. The Arnprior Santa Claus Parade will leave Winners circle at 6 pm. It will head down Daniel St turning left on Eady St and then right onto John St South. It will continue down John St South and turn right onto Madawaska Blvd. and then right again back onto Daniel St.

Orleans Parade of Lights
Saturday, November 24, starting at 6:00 pm. Once again the Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association will be hosting Santa’s Parade of Lights on St-Joseph Blvd. in Orleans. Toy and cash donations will be collected by firefighters along the route.

Gananoque Santa Parade
Saturday, November 24, starting at 7:00 pm. (Note later start time.) The Gananoque BIA is proud to host the annual Santa Claus Parade. The parade will begin at Gananoque & Intermediate Secondary School and head downtown along King Street making it’s final turn on Park Street.

Clarence Rockland Santa Claus Parade
Sunday, November 25, starting at 4:30 pm. The route will be the same as last year, starting on Héritage Rd. and ending at the Knights of Columbus hall.

Constance & Buckham’s Bay Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 1, starting at 10:00 am (note earlier start time.) Don’t miss the annual CBBCA Constance & Buckhams Bay Santa Claus Parade; floats gather on Baillie Ave. Parade runs along Bayview to Len Purcell and winds up at the community centre for hots dogs, Santa, and hot chocolate. Be sure to check out the Christmas Market & Craft Fair. Bring your non-perishable food item for the West Carleton Food Bank.

Merrickville Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 1, starting at 11:00 am. The annual Merrickville Santa Claus Parade, hosted by the Merrickville Volunteer Fire Department Association, will make its way up St. Lawrence Street starting at 11:00am.

Manotick Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 1, starting at 1:00 pm. Parade runs from the Manotick Arena and then south down Manotick Main Street. This is our favourite of the season! 😉

Perth and District Santa Claus Parade of Lights
Saturday, December 1, starting at 5:00 pm. The annual SANTA CLAUS PARADE OF LIGHTS makes its way through Downtown Heritage Perth. Starting on Sunset Blvd. at 5pm, the parade of lights will travel south through town (Wilson to Gore), turning onto Cockburn Street and ending at Queen Elizabeth School. The parade always ends with a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus on the last float!

Renfrew Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 1, starting at 5:30 pm. Parade will start at Bonnechere St South and Munroe Ave West. It will end at Opeongo Road and Raglan Street South.

Stittsville Parade of Lights
Saturday, December 1 starting at 6:00 pm. The parade will proceed along its usual route south on Stittsville Main Street, from just south of Hazeldean Road to Carleton Cathcart Street. Each year, dozens of beautifully decorated community floats set the tone for Santa’s much anticipated arrival at the end of the parade. Merry makers are also encouraged to stay for the lighting of Village Square Park, our new Christmas Market in Village Square Park (5 pm to 9 pm), and to share in some hot chocolate, cookies, and a visit with Santa.

Aylmer / Gatineau Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 1, starting at 6:00 pm. A tradition that goes back several years, this light-filled parade that departs from the Aylmer marina and attracts crowds from the entire region.

Hawkesbury Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 1, starting at 7 pm. Visit with Santa and some Hawkesbury’s associations while enjoying the parade that will start on James Street, will continue along Main Street and will finish at Hamilton Street.

Casselman Santa Claus Parade
Sunday, December 2 starting at 5:30pm. Route: Starting at the Laflêche boulevard, Isabelle street, St-Isidore street West, Percy street, Dollard street to finish on Principale Street South.We encourage all participants to make a donation of can foods or others to be used for Christmas baskets. (A truck will be at the start of the parade to collect donations.)

Osgoode Christmas in the Village
Friday December 7, starting at 7 pm. Parade route is from Osgoode Main St and Nixon Rd along Osgoode Main St to Stuart Holmes Arena. On Saturday, December 8, celebrate the festive spirit and join the Osgoode Co-operative Nursery School for their 26th annual Breakfast with Santa at the Osgoode Community Centre. Enjoy a delicious pancake breakfast and while you are there, do some Christmas shopping at their popular Silent Auction featuring a display of various local products.

Carp Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 8, starting at 12:00 pm. The route starts at The Diefenbunker – 3911 Carp Road and follows Carp Road, turning left onto Donald B. Munro, left onto Langstaff Drive, left on Juanita Avenue and right on Carp Road, finishing at the Diefenbunker. (Note route change: This is the opposite of last year’s route. The parade will be going all the way down Carp Road first.)

Pakenham Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 8, starting at 1:00 pm. Don’t miss Santa’s favourite event with the Pakenham Santa Claus Parade! Pack a thermos of hot chocolate and head to downtown Pakenham for an old-fashioned, festive parade.

Missing this year: At the time of publication in early November, I wasn’t able to find information about Richmond, Smiths Falls, Embrun, Almonte, Eganville or Metcalfe this year. If you have any information about these communities or others not mentioned above, please let me know and I’ll update the post throughout the season.

holly border

And don’t fret if you can’t make it to the parade – how about one of these other fun family events with a holiday theme in our region?

Barrhaven Breakfast with Santa

The morning of the Barrhaven Santa Claus parade, Sunday November 18, bring the kids for a breakfast with Santa at Mother Theresa High School. Seatings at 8:00 and 9:30.

Magic of Lights Drive-Through at Wesley Clover Park
November 16, 2018 through January 5, 2019. This magical event, that has quickly become a holiday tradition for many Ottawa residents and visitors, is composed of lighted displays celebrating the joy of the holidays. A “drive through” experience from the comfort of your own car, at every turn and in every direction the route is overflowing with spectacular light displays and animations. New attractions in 2018 will include “Candy Cane Lane”, a 200-foot animated Candy Cane celebration, as well as an all new twinkling “Snowflake Forest.”

The Vintage Village of Lights
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 30 to December 2, 2018, 3 pm to 8 pm at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum. There’s holiday cheer to share with family, friends, and loved ones of all ages at the Vintage Village of Lights! Our 1920s and 30s village is illuminated to set a picture-perfect scene as you explore the festive touches, decorations, and embellishments that have been a part of Christmas traditions through the years. As you enjoy your stroll around the Village, be sure to check out some of the fun activities we have planned including: decorating gingerbread; taking a horse-drawn wagon ride; receiving a Santagram; printing a greeting card; personalizing a wooden tree ornament; a site-wide advent calendar; and more. And, of course, don’t forget to say hi to Santa!

2018 Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train hits the rails again in November, visiting over 150 communities. Since the program’s inception back in 1999, more than $7.4 million and over 3 million pounds of food has been collected in Canada and the United States. At each event, the Holiday Train provides a box car stage, a line up of great musical talents and a corporate contribution to the local food bank. The community, in turn, is encouraged to donate food and funds, all of which stays in the community. Local stops include Finch, Merrickville, Smiths Falls and Perth on November 28 and then Trenton, Belleville and Brighton on November 29. Check the holiday train schedule for more details.

Canadian Museum of History Tree Lighting Ceremony: Thursday, November 29
Thursday, November 29 at 6 p.m. Invite your family, friends and colleagues to count down to the lighting of the tree. Enjoy Christmas carols by la Chorale 7e-8e, from secondary school De La Salle’s Centre d’excellence artistique de l’Ontario, along with complimentary Beaver Bites and hot chocolate (while quantities last). You can also take the opportunity to visit the Museum’s Christmas Market, which opens the same day in the Grand Hall and will be open until 8 p.m. Note that the activities will take place outside, so please dress accordingly.

Upper Canada Village: Alight at Night
Bundle up for an evening stroll through this picture-perfect postcard setting! With close to one million lights adorning the heritage buildings, trees and fences of Upper Canada Village creating a one-of-a-kind magical backdrop for its annual Alight at Night Festival…a true winter wonderland! Times and dates vary, starting November 30 through January 5, so check the link for details. New this year: don’t miss the 1965 carousel of prancing horses that young visitors can ride!

Manotick’s Olde Fashioned Christmas
Saturday December 1 and Sunday December 2. The Village is transformed into a Village of Yesteryear. There will be a Victorian Tea and Penny Sale, horse-drawn wagon rides, pictures with Santa, face painting, strolling carollers and more.

Christmas Tree Lighting at the National Gallery of Canada
Tuesday December 4, 2018. Free admission from 5 pm to 8 pm, tree lighting at 6:30 pm in the Scotiabank Great Hall. All are welcome to enjoy special treats and activities, such as making a spinning snowflake ornament to decorate your tree, in-gallery sketching, watch Christmas movies in the auditorium, listen to the melodies of Stellae Boreales (and sing along to your holiday favourites) and enjoy a ride aboard VIA Rail’s Christmas Mini Train on the outdoor Plaza. See link above for more details and activities.

Christmas Lights Across Canada: December 5, 2018 to January 7, 2019
The 34th edition of Christmas Lights Across Canada will kick off with an official illumination ceremony on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 7 pm. Every night from December 5 to January 7, enjoy the Magical Winter Lightscapes multimedia show projected on the Parliament Hill buildings. People of all ages will get into the holiday spirit as hundreds of thousands of dazzling lights shine in Canada’s Capital Region and across the country.

If I’ve missed anything, or if you’d like to share information about your family-friendly Ottawa Christmas or Holiday event, please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at hello(a)danigirl(dot)ca and I’d be happy to add them to this (now epic!) post.

How many parades will YOU attend this year?


{ 9 comments }

No lining up in a row! No poses! No stiff or cheesy smiles for the camera! No Sunday-best outfits! Just fun photos to remember your family as they really look and play in this beautiful moment in time.

This September, I’m offering candid family photography sessions at the delightful Log Cabin Orchard near Osgoode. These are documentary-style photos of you and your family having fun – and yes, YOU are in the pictures this time. Plus, you get to keep the apples!

The Log Cabin Orchard is lovely. There are tractor-drawn wagon rides, a little petting zoo, and yummy churros and cider for sale, as well as a nice selection of baked goods.

We’ll spend 30 to 45 minutes in the orchard picking apples. I’ll be your own personal mamarazzi, taking photos of you and your family picking fresh Lobo, Paula Red and McIntosh apples (depending on what’s in season.) Your package even includes one-quarter bushel of apples — feel free to buy more, though, or get some yummy churros or apple cider on site.

You’ll receive an online invitation to a private gallery, from which you can choose your favourite photos. The package includes 10 high resolution, fully edited digital images, with the option to buy prints or additional images.

The cost this package, including apples AND 10 digital files, is $325. This rate applies to the apple picking family photography session only, and is valid only during September. If you’d like more information or to book a session, please email hello@danigirl.ca or contact me via this form.



{ 0 comments }

If you’re looking for a wonderful little spot to bring the family for lunch and a lovely view of the intersection of Ottawa’s two rivers, we had a really lovely lunch one summer afternoon at Ottawa’s new Tavern on the Falls.

Ottawa family fun: Tavern on the Falls

It might have been because it was a Monday, or because the sky was threatening rain, or because it was mid afternoon, but we had the place pretty much to ourselves.

Ottawa family fun: Tavern on the Falls

It’s a cousin to Tavern on the Hill, in Majors Hill Park. It’s a little tricky to find the first time. It’s tucked behind the Royal Geographic Society building on Sussex Dr, right in between it and the falls where the Rideau river meets the Ottawa river. The menu is simple, with gourmet hot dogs and an assortment of pre-made salads and wraps. We were impressed with the options for the hot dogs.

Ottawa family fun: Tavern on the Falls

Ottawa family fun: Tavern on the Falls

(They are so different in almost every way, and yet every now and then I catch the family resemblance!)

There’s also what looks like a full service bar, but we weren’t there for drinks. We did, however, imbibe in some ice cream after our hot dogs. It was spitting a bit as we finished lunch, but the umbrellas provided enough cover to keep us dry. In fact, it was a little hard to tell the difference between the sprinkles and the spray from the falls.

Ottawa family fun: Tavern on the Falls

It’s a lovely area to wander, not too far from Rideau Hall. We didn’t make it that far, but we did poke around the falls a little bit, talking about how they’re the reason the Rideau Canal was built, and how Ottawa came to be settled because of them. Here’s the view of the restaurant from the other side of the falls.

Ottawa family fun: Tavern on the Falls

You can really see in this photo why they called these falls “Rideau” – which means curtain.

Ottawa family fun: Tavern on the Falls

We spent a lovely, lazy hour or so having hot dogs and ice cream and poking around the falls. I can imagine the sunset views are stunning, and plan to come back when the fall foliage turns colourful – won’t be long now! All in all, a lovely if not inexpensive lunch out with a gorgeous view, even on a rainy afternoon, and highly recommended.

If you go:
Tavern on the Falls is open from early morning (with Bridgehead coffee and Maverick’s doughnuts!) to late night, through the end of October, weather permitting. The street address is 1 John Street, but we found it by looking for the Royal Geographic Society and wandering around behind it.


{ 0 comments }

Every year on or around the first weekend in April, the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers host an open house. I don’t remember how exactly we heard about Oliver’s Mapleworks in particular, but they met my planning criteria of a fun family day out that would likely be a little less crowded than some of the larger local maple producers like Wheelers and Fulton’s, and within an easy hour’s drive.

Documentary photos of families day in the life by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

We had THE BEST time! It was a decent day for a ramble in the countryside, not quite spring warm (so not muddy) but not as windy or unpleasant as it has been the past few weeks. (Sidebar: has anyone seen spring? Please release it to the wild so we can all enjoy it!) We were immediately greeted by a friendly woman who engaged us right away, taking us on a tour of the maple condenser and extractor, and the reverse osmosis unit they use to further concentrate and purify the sap.

Documentary photos of families day in the life by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

I think she said they had a couple thousand trees tapped in a sugar bush that has been producing maple syrup since the early 1800s. (You’ll forgive me for any errors in fact or egregious speculation. I wasn’t taking notes!) Most Canadians can tell you that sap becomes syrup by boiling it until most of the water evaporates, but I thought it was pretty cool that they can use a condenser to remove up to 2/3 of the water before the boiling process even begins.

Documentary photos of families day in the life by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

The tour itself was fascinating – turns I don’t know half as much about maple syrup production as I thought I did. And it seems like being a maple farmer is a LOT of work – she said on days when the sap is running, they get started around 10 am (when it warms up enough for the sap to start flowing) and often don’t finish until after midnight or later. Oliver’s is definitely a family operation, and our visit felt warm and friendly like a family-run business, too.

After our tour, we sampled maple syrup, maple butter and my favourite, maple sugar. Did you know that they’re all basically the same thing, just with increasing amounts of water removed? And further, we learned that all maple syrup has a sugar content of 67%. The variations in colour from light to dark come from the sap itself and can change based on the time in the season when it’s drawn.

Documentary photos of families day in the life by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

After raising our own blood sugar levels to what felt like 67%, and after a delicious lunch of maple sausages with maple mustard on a bun and, I kid you not, maple coffee, we had a fun wagon ride with the owner and proprietor of the farm, Dave Oliver, who further educated and entertained us.

Portraits of your family at play by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

But what’s a farm visit without animals? There were miniature ponies, goats, and bunnies to greet.

Portraits of your family at play by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

Oh, and did I mention the free range chickens and five day old peeping chicks?

Portraits of your family at play by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

This was seriously one of my favourite family outings this year. The Olivers and their employees and helpers were charming and welcoming, and answered my endless questions patiently. (Yes, I am still that curious nine year old with my hand in the air. Some things never change.) There are more than a dozen maple producers open to the public in Lanark County alone, but I’d have a hard time imagining any of them putting on a better family day out than Oliver’s Maple Works. It looks from their website that they’re open for visits but “please contact us by phone or email if you are planning to visit us so that we can make arrangements to greet you.” It’s a drive we’ll definitely make again!

If you go:
Oliver’s Maple Works
158 Lakewood Lane, Perth, Ontario K7H 3C7
Phone: 613-264-8612
Email: tree.mapleworks@gmail.com


{ 0 comments }

Edited to add: Click this link for the 2018 Santa Claus and holiday parade info!

Welcome to one of my favourite holiday traditions, the original and most comprehensive listing of all the Christmas, Holiday and Santa Claus parades for Ottawa, Eastern Ontario and West Quebec.

Photo of Santa Claus at the Christmas parade 2013

It’s been a dozen (!!) years since our first holiday parade round up, and this post gets longer every year. Take a close look at the details – I noticed a lot of parades moving from a traditional week or day of the week, and lots of route changes for this year, too. There are more than 20 parades crammed into one three-week period!

Here’s all the info I could scare up about the 2017 Ottawa, Eastern Ontario and West Quebec Santa Claus and Christmas parade line-up, in chronological order:

Ottawa Help Santa Toy Parade
Saturday, November 18 starting at 11:00 am. New route this year! The parade starts at Ottawa City Hall and moves west on Laurier Avenue to Bank Street, then follows Bank Street south to TD Place. New toys (no used toys, please) and cash donations will be collected by the Ottawa Firefighters.

Kemptville Kinsmen Santa Parade
Saturday, November 18 starting at 1:00 pm. This year’s edition of the Kemptville Kinsmen Santa Claus parade will begin at Holy Cross starting at 1:00pm. The parade route will follow Clothier St W and then Prescott St to the Kemptville College. The theme is “Christmas in the Movies.” Following the parade please join us for Santa’s North Pole at the North Grenville Public Library.

Cornwall Santa Claus Parade
Saturday November 18, starting at 5:00 pm. The parade will run from St. Lawrence Intermediate School, 1450 Second Street East. It will then proceed west. The theme for the 45TH Annual Parade is 150 YEARS OF CHRISTMAS. Join us afterward for Santa’s Street Hockey Challenge!

Barrhaven Lions Club Light Up the Night Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, November 18, starting at 5:30 pm. (Note the change to Saturday instead of Sunday!) The parade runs down Strandherd Drive, starting at Beatrice Drive and ending at the park n ride, where it turns north for dispersal. Please remember to bring non perishable food items or cash donations for the Barrhaven Food Cupboard.

Kanata Santa Claus Parade
Sunday November 19, 2017 at 1:30 pm (note the change to day of the week and time versus previous years!) The parade begins at Terry Fox and Castlefrank and proceeds Castlefrank to Abbeyhill Drive and on to Hazeldean Mall. Food and money will be collected by volunteer firefighters along the route for the Kanata Food Cupboard. Join Santa at the mall after the parade!

Petawawa Santa Claus Parade
Sunday November 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm. Parade starts at the Petawawa Plaza along Mohns to Herman, then Herman to Murphy Road, finishing at Civic Centre.

Brockville Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, November 25, starting at 5:00 pm (new time!) The parade will start at North Augusta Road and Pearl Street then travel West on Pearl Street E. to Park Street, South on Park Street and lastly, West on King Street to Gilmore Street. The parade will feature many floats, bands, horses, clowns, community groups, dignitaries and finally the star attraction, Santa himself.

Carleton Place Santa Parade
Saturday, November 25 starting at 5:00 pm. Wear red and white, bring your food donation with you. This year’s parade theme is ‘Canada 150’. As Canada’s 150th Birthday year draws to a close, we will be inviting the public to participate in a parade all about Canada.

Gananoque Santa Parade
Saturday, November 25, starting at 5:00 pm. The Downtown Gananoque BIA will host the 2017 Santa Claus Parade on Saturday, November 25th at 5pm!

Pembroke Santa Claus Parade of Lights
Saturday, November 25 starting at 5:30 pm. This year’s theme will be 150 Years of Christmas as we
celebrate the holiday season in Canadian history. We’re encouraging participants to turn the parade into a walk through history, with each float focused on a different era over the last 150 years, whether it’s 1867, the ‘50s, the ‘80s, or anywhere in between. It’s a way to have fun while celebrating our heritage!

Arnprior Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, November 25, starting at 6:00 pm.

Clarence Rockland Santa Claus Parade
Sunday, November 26, starting at 4:30 pm. Meet Santa after the parade at the Christmas Show at the Knights of Columbus hall from 6:30 until 8:00 pm.

Vankleek Hill Santa Claus Parade
Friday, December 1. Come out on Main Street and greet jolly Saint-Nicholas a few days before he makes his round-the-world distribution of gifts! Christmas comes from the heart!

Osgoode Santa Parade
Friday December 1, starting at 7 pm. Grab a seat along Osgoode Main Street and wait for the big guy’s arrival in the second annual Osgoode Parade of Lights. During the parade Santa’s helpers will collect “Letters to Santa” and drop them off at Canada Post on behalf of all the boys and girls in the village. Don’t forget to bring your canned goods for the “Fill a Truck Challenge“. Frosty the Snowman will be there ready as ever and Stay Puff Marshmallow Ghostbusters will also be joining in the parade. The Parade starts at Nixon Rd. and Osgoode Main and ends in the Foodland parking lot. As a continuation of the Canada 150 celebrations, OVCA has been fortunate enough to be granted funds so we will be able to put on a Special Fireworks display following the Parade of Lights at the Community Centre!!

Merrickville Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 2, starting at 11:00 am. The annual Merrickville Santa Claus Parade, hosted by the Merrickville Volunteer Fire Department Association, will make its way up St. Lawrence Street starting at 11:00am.

Hawkesbury Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 2. This year, Santa Claus will be stopping by Saturday, December 2, so join him to kick off the holiday season! Visit with Santa and some Hawkesbury’s associations while enjoying the parade that will start on James Street, will continue along Main Street and will finish at Hamilton Street.

Pakenham Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 2, starting at 1:00 pm. Don’t miss Santa’s favourite event with the Pakenham Santa Claus Parade! Pack a thermos of hot chocolate and head to downtown Pakenham for an old-fashioned, festive parade.

Manotick Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 2, starting at 1:00 pm. Parade runs from the Manotick Arena and then south down Manotick Main Street. This is our favourite of the season! 😉

Constance & Buckham’s Bay Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 2, starting at 1:00 pm. Don’t miss the annual CBBCA Constance & Buckhams Bay Santa Clause Parade; floats gather on Baillie Ave for a 1:00PM start. Parade runs along Bayview to Len Purcell and winds up at the community centre for hots dogs, Santa, and hot chocolate. Be sure to check out the Christmas Craft Fair, Silent Auction, Outdoor Hockey Registration, and the Learn to Skate program. Be sure to bring your non-perishable food item for the West Carleton Food Bank.

Perth and District Children’s Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 2, starting at 5:00 pm. The annual SANTA CLAUS PARADE OF LIGHTS makes its way through Downtown Heritage Perth. Starting on Sunset Blvd. at 5pm, the parade of lights will travel south through town (Wilson to Gore), turning onto Cockburn Street and ending at Queen Elizabeth School. The parade always ends with a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus on the last float!

Renfrew Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 2, starting at 5:00 pm (note new start time and new downtown route!) The Renfrew Business Improvement Area (BIA) will be organizing the parade. The theme of the parade is ‘Christmas 150 Wishes’. Santa will be at Town Hall in the gazebo at Low Square to visit with kids after the parade.

Orleans Parade of Lights
Saturday, December 2 starting at 6:00 pm. Once again the Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association will be hosting Santa’s Parade of Lights on St-Joseph Blvd. in Orleans. Toy and cash donations will be collected by firefighters along the route.

Stittsville Parade of Lights
Saturday, December 2 starting at 6:00 pm. The annual Parade of Lights is a community favourite, drawing thousands of spectators along the parade route. Each year, dozens of beautifully decorated community floats set the tone for Santa’s much anticipated arrival at the end of the parade. The parade runs along Stittsville Main from Carp Rd. to Carleton Cathcart. Merry makers are also encouraged to stay for the lighting of Village Square Park, and to share in some hot chocolate and cookies.

Aylmer / Gatineau Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 2, starting at 6:00 pm. A tradition that goes back several years, this light-filled parade that departs from the Aylmer marina and attracts crowds from the entire region.

Casselman Santa Claus Parade
Sunday, December 3 starting at 5:30pm Route: Visit our web site for all the details casselmanfestival.ca Hot chocolate will be served by Scotia Bank in front of the big tent.

Carp Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 9, starting at 12:00 pm. The Huntley Community Association is thrilled to announce we will be holding the 9th Annual Christmas Parade on December 9th, 2017 in Carp. The route starts at The Diefenbunker – 3911 Carp Road and follows Carp Road to Juanita Street to Langstaff Drive turning right on Donald B. Munro Drive to Carp Road finishing at the Diefenbunker.

Missing this year: At the time of publication in early November, I wasn’t able to find information about Arnprior, Russell, Richmond, Smiths Falls, Embrun, Almonte, Eganville or Metcalfe this year. If you have any information about these communities or others not mentioned above, please let me know and I’ll update the post throughout the season.

holly border

And don’t fret if you can’t make it to the parade – how about one of these other fun family events with a holiday theme in our region?

Magic of Lights Drive-Through at Wesley Clover Park
November 17, 2017 through January 6, 2018. Magic of Lights is composed of festive and vibrant LED lighted displays celebrating the joy of the holidays. A “drive through” experience from the comfort of your own car, the Wesley Clover Parks Campground route will be overflowing with spectacular light displays and animations where holiday themes will come to life in sparkling lights. Magic of Lights is truly a holiday family tradition and will be for years to come. Select proceeds from each carload admission will once again benefit the Ottawa Senator’s Foundation, last year’s event raised over $47,000 for this charity!

The Vintage Village of Lights
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 24, 2017 to December 17, 2017, 3 pm to 8 pm at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum. Step into a holiday tale of your own as you explore seasonal scenes and activities inspired by classic Christmas stories and songs of years past. Take in the 30,000 lights illuminating the Museum, visit with Santa and send a telegram to the North Pole. Let your holiday spirit shine with cookie decorating or a Christmas craft. Singalong to your favourite carol then experience a horse-drawn wagon ride. Feeling chilly? No worries. Warm up by the bonfire and purchase a cup of hot cocoa from the Canteen. There’s magic to share with your family, friends, and loved ones of all ages at the Vintage Village of Lights!

2017 Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train hits the rails again in November, visiting over 150 communities. Since the program’s inception back in 1999, more than $7.4 million and over 3 million pounds of food has been collected in Canada and the United States. At each event, the Holiday Train provides a box car stage, a line up of great musical talents and a corporate contribution to the local food bank. The community, in turn, is encouraged to donate food and funds, all of which stays in the community. Local stops include Finch, Merrickville, Smiths Falls and Perth on November 27 and then Trenton, Belleville and Brighton on November 28. Check the holiday train schedule for more details.

Canadian Museum of History Tree Lighting Ceremony: Thursday, November 30
Thursday, November 30 at 6 p.m.Invite your family, friends and colleagues to count down to the lighting of the Museum’s giant outdoor tree, while enjoying Christmas carols, Beaver Bites and hot chocolate (while quantities last)! This event takes place at the same time as the opening of the Museum’s Christmas Market, which will be in the Grand Hall until 8 p.m. Note that the activities will take place outside, so please dress accordingly.

Upper Canada Village: Alight at Night
Bundle up for an evening stroll through this picture-perfect postcard setting! With close to one million lights adorning the heritage buildings, trees and fences of Upper Canada Village creating a one-of-a-kind magical backdrop for its annual Alight at Night Festival…a true winter wonderland! Times and dates vary, starting December 1, so check the link for details.

Manotick’s Olde Fashioned Christmas
Saturday December 2 and Sunday December 3. The Village is transformed into a Village of Yesteryear. There will be a Victorian Tea and Penny Sale, horse-drawn wagon rides, pictures with Santa, face painting, strolling carollers and more.

Christmas Tree Lighting at the National Gallery of Canada
December 7, 2017. Free admission from 5 pm to 8 pm, tree lighting at 6:30 pm in the Scotiabank Great Hall. All are welcome to enjoy special treats and activities:

  • Make a beaded swirl ornament to decorate your tree
  • Take a photo by the tree surrounded by our festive frame
  • Listen to the holiday melodies of Stellae Boreales, Ottawa Suzuki Strings’ violin ensemble, featuring the school’s senior students
  • Savour a complimentary hot chocolate and a holiday treat
  • Share your photos! #NGCTree

Christmas Lights Across Canada: December 7, 2017 to January 7, 2018
The 33rd edition of Christmas Lights Across Canada will kick off with an official illumination ceremony on December 7, 2017 at 7 p.m. Every night from December 7 to January 7, enjoy the magical winter lightscapes multimedia show projected on Parliament Hill buildings. A brand new experience also awaits you in Confederation Park with displays of lights that will “glow” your mind! People of all ages will get into to the holiday spirit as hundreds of thousands of dazzling lights shine in Canada’s Capital Region and across the country.

If I’ve missed anything, or if you’d like to share information about your family-friendly Ottawa Christmas or Holiday event, please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at danicanada (at) gmail (dot) com and I’d be happy to add them to this (now epic!) post.

How many parades will YOU attend this year?


{ 3 comments }

Now that it is October, the fiery reds, oranges and yellows of autumn are almost upon us! I think the fall colours are a little late this year, compared to other years. (One of many benefits of having an archive of thousands of photos taken in every season!)

Parliament Hill in Ottawa on an autumn morning

Whether you’re looking for a colourful foliage backdrop for family portraits, the best time for breathtaking landscape photographs, or just planning a peaceful wander at a local hiking trail, you’ll find these tools helpful in tracking when the autumn leaves will be at their most colourful in Ottawa, eastern Ontario and western Quebec, and even the United States. (If you’re not in these areas and have a local guide to fall colour, please share it in the comments!)

Autumn on the Rideau Canal

This fall colour report for Ontario Parks provides detailed descriptions of the percentage of colour change, dominant leaf colour, and percentage of fallen leaves for each of Ontario’s provincial parks. It also provides a recommendation of the best viewing location in each park. Be sure to take a glance at the date in each location’s report – some seem to be updated more regularly than others.

Quebec’s tourism office also provides an interactive map of fall colours in key locations across the province. It’s not as detailed as the Ontario Parks map, though, showing only an icon of the dominant colour and indicators like “early” and “mid” and “near peak.” It’s updated every Thursday.

Morning on the Rideau River in autumn

For those of you in the USA, there’s a comprehensive map showing the fall colour progression right across the country. It even predicts when the colour will be at its peak and beyond, through the middle of November.

If you’re planning a family excursion to enjoy the fall colours, consider hiring me as your own personal photographer to document the morning or afternoon. Autumn is a wonderful time for family photography, and I know a few great places off the beaten path that are especially beautiful this time of year. If you’d like to know more about my photography packages, visit my Ottawa family photography website. I have a few weekend openings available between now and the end of October, but they’ll book up quickly!


{ 0 comments }

Ottawa’s Hidden Treasures: Secret suburban sand dunes

29 August 2017 Ottawa Family Fun

Did you know that there’s a 10,000 year old sand dune hiding in a pine forest in suburban Ottawa? Neat, right? The sand dune in the Pinhey Forest is an ancient remnant of the last ice age, when what we now know as Ottawa was submerged under the great Champlain Sea. Even 100 years ago, […]

4 comments Read the full article →

Ottawa Family Fun: MosaiCanada at Jacques Cartier Park

2 August 2017 Ottawa Family Fun

While La Machine might have been the most amazing street spectacle ever to visit Ottawa (no hyperbole here!) it’s not too late to visit Ottawa’s other fabulous FREE summer shows. If you’re into light shows, I hear Kontinuum and the Northern Lights show on Parliament Hill are both awesome, but we were blown away (again!) […]

2 comments Read the full article →

Photos of the day: La Machine in Ottawa

28 July 2017 Ottawa Family Fun

It isn’t every day that one gets to see a giant spider and a three-story tall dragon performed street theatre on busy Ottawa streets. I was curious to see La Machine, the unique street theatre presentation featuring a giant mechanical spider and a steam-and-fire breathing horse-dragon, but was leery of the crowds. In the end, […]

2 comments Read the full article →

A Visitor’s Guide to Ottawa 2017 Family Fun

10 February 2017 Ottawa Family Fun

An old bloggy friend reached out recently and said he and his family were thinking of visiting Ottawa for the first time this summer, and asked if I had any recommendations for things to see and do. Yes, I might know a thing or two about family activities in Canada’s capital! While I’ve got oodles […]

7 comments Read the full article →