- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Ottawa Guide (PDF)
There are plenty of great annual events taking place in Ottawa that will keep expats busy. The city's diversity is apparent through its various cultural festivals, while music lovers will revel in the fact that Ottawa plays host to some top international gigs and concerts.
Here is a list of the main events on Ottawa's event calendar.
Annual events in Ottawa
Winterlude/Bal de Neige (February)
This is a fun-filled festival that takes place over three weekends in February and celebrates all the joys of winter in Ottawa. Events take place at various venues throughout Ottawa and Gatineau and include skating on the world’s largest ice rink, ice sculpture competitions and North America’s largest snow playground.
Canadian Tulip Festival (May)
Since its inception in 1953, the Canadian Tulip Festival has grown to become the largest tulip festival in the world. Visitors are drawn to this family-friendly, outdoor event to admire over a million tulips that come into bloom in the capital.
Ottawa International Children’s Festival (May/June)
This annual festival celebrates the best of performing arts for young people. For more than 20 years, the Ottawa International Children’s Festival has involved award-winning performances from international artists. It proves to be a great day out for expats with children.
Carnival of Cultures (June/July)
This weekend festival celebrates global folklore traditions through music, dance and theatre from across the world. It’s a wonderful occasion where guests can learn about South American, European, African, Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. The festival offers the opportunity to try authentic foreign cuisine and take part in hands-on cultural workshops.
TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival (July)
Ottawa’s International Jazz Festival is one of Canada’s top music events and features the finest jazz musicians from Canada and beyond. Performances are found at various open-air venues and intimate studio spaces throughout the city. It’s a great opportunity for jazz aficionados and regular music lovers alike to enjoy some world-class entertainment.
Canada Day (July)
Canada Day sees hundreds of thousands of people come together to celebrate the country's birthday at concerts, picnics and fireworks displays. The main action in Ottawa takes place on 1 July at sites near Parliament Hill, Major’s Hill Park, Jacques-Cartier Park and Confederation Park.
Ottawa Bluesfest (July)
This is an award-winning music extravaganza. It's the largest blues event in Canada and ranks among North America’s top music festivals. The festival takes place at LeBreton Flats Park in the heart of Ottawa and involves hundreds of world-class performances.
Ottawa Pride Festival (August)
Ottawa’s colourful Pride Festival takes place in August every year. Over a period of 10 days, various events take place to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. These include a Rainbow Party, Health and Fitness Day and the famous Capital Pride Parade.
Ottawa International Animation Festival (September)
During September each year, Canada’s capital becomes the centre of the animation universe. The Ottawa International Animation Festival is the largest of its kind in North America and attracts thousands of film buffs, art lovers and cartoon fans from around the world.
Are you an expat living in Ottawa?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Ottawa. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global can tailor an international health insurance plan to perfectly fit the needs of you and your family. With 86 million customers in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
William Russell is a boutique insurance company, that values itself on its great customer service and is underwritten by Allianz. They provide health, life, and income protection insurance for expats around the world. With a global network of 40,000 hospitals and doctors, their health insurance plans are designed so that they follow you to whatever country you move to next.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.