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Celebrate Canada Day in Style at Fairmont Château Laurier

Whether you’ve lived in Canada all of your life or you’re just visiting, spending Canada Day in Ottawa fills you with a special energy that comes from celebrating in the heart the nation’s capital. When you celebrate Canada Day in Ottawa, you have the opportunity to explore landmarks that offer a glimpse of Canada’s past, present, and future, just steps from Parliament Hill, the seat of Canada’s federal government. And, when you stay at Fairmont Château Laurier, you’ll celebrate Canada Day in style!

We’ve created a list of must-do activities on Canada Day, including the best Ottawa has to offer, from dining and cocktails to museums and entertainment. Château Laurier is centrally located, which makes it easy to visit these attractions  and to celebrate Canada Day with a bang!

In the Morning

Our suggested itinerary is filled with activities, so it’s best to start the day with breakfast. Wilfrid’s,  Fairmont Château Laurier’s warm and elegant restaurant, serves the Ottawa Valley Skillet, a hearty dish that includes two soft-poached eggs, elk sausage, cheese scone made with Balderson cheese and Hollandaise sauce. If you prefer a sweeter approach, treat yourself to Wilfrid’s Warm Maple Crepes: thin, light pancakes served with Quebec maple butter and a berry compote.

Wilfrid’s overlooks Rideau Canal and the historic Parliament buildings. As you savour your breakfast, you can enjoy people-watching as visitors and residents begin queuing up for the festivities.

The first stop after breakfast is  a stroll around ByWard Market, Ottawa’s premier destination for unique, local food, arts and crafts. The ByWard Market is open 363 days a year, including Canada Day, so you can browse farmers’ stands and artisans’ stores to find the perfect memento of your visit.

In the Afternoon

Ottawa summers can be hot and humid, so by mid-day you might welcome an opportunity to cool down. While many places are closed on Canada Day, the city’s museums are open and offer you shady spots to relax and interesting exhibits to view.

The National Gallery of Canada, offering world-class collections of Indigenous and Canadian art, is seven blocks north of Fairmont Château Laurier. The museum’s modern architecture is a piece of art in and of itself, and the exhibits don’t disappoint. In addition to a collection of works from the famed Group of Seven landscape painters, you can see intricately-designed Indigenous art and selections from renowned artists who have exhibited their work around the world. Traveling with kids? The Artissimo kiosk gives children the opportunity to play artist and share their masterpieces with others.

To learn more about the history of Canada’s capital, visit the Bytown Museum, which is a 5-minute walk to the west of the hotel and across the canal. Gaze at panoramic views of the city while exploring Ottawa’s roots and its continuing evolution into the city that it is today. There’s also a kids’ corner where children can learn more about Ottawa’s past, present and future.

For those interested in history, the Canadian War Museum is well worth exploring. Much like the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian War Museum building is an architectural gem. The theme of the museum is regeneration. As such, the museum is highly energy efficient, with a “green” roof to clean the air while insulating the building from energy loss. Moreover, the idea of regeneration is woven into the museum’s design: the motto “Lest We Forget” is inscribed on the windows in Morse code. The museum features jet fighters, tanks and artillery from the first and second World Wars, in addition to critically acclaimed, traveling exhibitions exploring a variety of aspects of war and peace.

To see the Royal Canadian Air Force fly over Parliament Hill in the afternoon, head to Fairmont Château Laurier’s La Terrasse, the patio located on the west side of the hotel. From there, you’ll have a spectacular view of Parliament Hill, the rolling Gatineau Hills, and the Ottawa River. You’ll be able to see the nine jets, known as the Snowbirds, perform such aerial feats as loops and rolls at almost 750 kilometers an hour. It’s an annual tradition that draws huge crowds. While you enjoy the air show, you can sample the patio’s seasonal menu.

After walking around town, take a well-earned break in the Fairmont Château Laurier’s Art Deco pool. The pool still dazzles as it did when it first opened in 1929, with its elegant fluted wooden columns, delicately filigreed vents and a graceful statue of Greek gods and goddesses in the corner. If you’re travelling with children, they’ll receive child-sized robes for their use, making the poolside experience even more memorable.

No matter how you’ve spent the afternoon, stop at Zoe’s to enjoy the renovated lounge for afternoon tea between 1-5 pm. The menu features the hotel’s special twist on the classic BLT, combining sourdough bread, bacon jam, vanilla-scented tomatoes, and Boston bibb lettuce, as well as pomegranate macarons. There’s an option for children featuring hot chocolate, a scone with jam and a mini cupcake.

In the Evening

Just because the sun is going down doesn’t mean the celebrations are coming to an end. On the contrary, the fun is just getting started.

Major’s Hill Park on Mackenzie Avenue hosts up-and-coming musical performers, circus acts, games and a community culinary experience featuring Canadian cuisine from across the country. 

For thousands of revellers, the fireworks show on Parliament Hill is the most memorable part of Canada Day. But you don’t have to brave the crowds to watch one of the most impressive fireworks displays in the country. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the hotel! You’ll have an amazing view from La Terrasse.

Toast the display with something from the wide selection of cocktails, sangrias, chilled wines and locally brewed beers. 

After dark, brilliant fireworks light up the night sky. It’s the perfect time to sip a cocktail or nibble on appetizers as you reflect on the amazing memories you’ve made on Canada Day in Ottawa. Maybe you’ll even start planning your return for next year’s celebrations!


Rachel Levy Sarfin has traveled across the world for work and pleasure, to destinations that include Turkey, Germany, Thailand, and Romania. She lives north of Toronto, ON.


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