Ways to Spend Your Winter Break in Ottawa


Quote the Raven: C.s.M.


Since starting my time at CarletonU, I have had the chance to spend four winters in Ottawa. The weeks before heading back home are always a mix of exam season stress and excitement for the upcoming holidays. To get away from it all, even for a couple hours, I like to go out and explore what Ottawa has to offer during this time of year. For those of you who are currently here, or will be spending the winter break in Ottawa, allow me to share with you some of my favourite wintery and festive pastimes from around the city, as well as other fun activities you might enjoy!

Keeping COVID-19 in Mind

While the holidays can be an exciting time to catch up with friends and family, it is important to keep up to date on Ottawa’s COVID-19 status when planning your activities for the upcoming break. Check out the Ottawa Public Health Social WISE website for ways to make sure you are being Social Wise for our community.

Let’s be honest, we’re all university students who aren’t looking to break the bank just to have a good time. In between buying holiday gifts, our daily coffee runs and nightly shawarma orders, you may be wondering what you can do in Ottawa for free, or nearly-free. Turns out, quite a bit!

Now, I’m no Olympic skater (it’s been a while since I’ve slipped and I can go relatively fast, so I’m not that bad), but it’s still so much fun! Besides the Rideau Canal, which typically opens in January, the Rideau Hall Historic Skating Rink offers a free skate to all visitors, from December 11 to March 14, 2021. Plus, they will be setting up an outdoor fire pit and seating for guests to enjoy as well. If you’re looking to rent skates this year, one option is Cyco’s website.

One of my favourite places in Ottawa is the Lansdowne Park in the Glebe. There are so many restaurants and things to do in that little plaza. Plus, it’s super instagrammable. During the month of December, they have two main events that you should definitely add to your bucket list. The first is the December Farmer’s Market, which runs until December 20. You’ll find more than 60 vendors offering lots of fun little things for you to check out, and the hustle bustle ambience makes me feel right at home. The second event is the Lights at Lansdowne, which runs until January 7, 2021. If you’re in or near the ByWard area, you might want to check out this year’s ByWard and Parkdale Markets, which will be open until December 24.

If you’re into history, art and science, you might want to check out Ottawa’s many museums! On the Ottawa website, you’ll find all the information you’ll need, including hours, ticket prices and days with free admission.

For those of you who have access to a car, a great option to get into the holiday spirit is to attend a drive-through event. A few events I recently found in Ottawa are Magic of Lights, Vintage Village of Lights and a Country Christmas one. If you’re interested in renting a vehicle, you can do so through services like Communauto and Zipcar.

If you’re still looking for some more inspiration on how to enjoy the season and your break, Real Simple offers 49 different ideas, ranging from outdoor activities to yummy treats to crafts that you may want to add to your winter bucket list!

So yeah, there are tons of things to do in Ottawa in these coming weeks. Make sure you take a break from stressing over finals to enjoy yourself and practice self-care. Hopefully we can all end this rollercoaster of a year with happy and festive memories. Happy Holidays!

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