Ottawa At Night

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Ottawa is one of the coolest cities in Canada even though it’s the country’s administrative and home to museums, stately architecture and festivals. While a trip to the Parliament building, skating the Rideau Canal and exploring Ottawa’s museums are popular activities here, you can also enjoy your trip to the capital city by doing so much more in Ottawa at night. 

Nighttime in Ottawa offers a variety of indoor and outdoor experiences, including exploring ByWard Market’s nightlife, restaurants, bars and watching street performers or attending a cultural show at the National Arts Centre. If you are up for an adventure, join a haunted walk, skate on the Rideau Canal, which is beautifully lit up in winter, or go for an evening hike in Gatineau Park. Take a relaxed stroll by the Ottawa River, or better yet, enjoy a river cruise then try your luck at Casino du Lac-Leamy or enjoy an evening of sports at a hockey game at a pub or stadium.

If you are an art lover, you will appreciate the Ottawa Art Gallery and the seasonal Glowfair Festival, where you can enjoy music concerts and interactive art displays that illuminate the streets, giving the city a magical glow. Parliament Hill’s sound and light show is one of the must-visit shows and you can either go on your own or join an evening tour. Other night tours in Ottawa include cooking classes, pub hopping, craft beer tasting and gourmet food tours. There are comedy shows, live jazz nights, moonlit kayak tours and you can even go stargazing at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum’s Observatory.

Ottawa feels different in autumn, spring, summer or winter. Each season has special activities, seasonal delicacies and amazing experiences that will make you wonder why you haven’t visited Ottawa earlier. Here are the best things to do in Ottawa at night.

Ottawa At Night

Top Tours

Ottawa Small Group Night Tour with River Cruise + Light Show
Looking for an iconic experience in Ottawa at night? Make sure you do one of the cruises and see the lights.

20 Things To Do In Ottawa At Night

1- Watch The Sound And Light Show At Parliament Hill

Ottawa Self Guided Audio Tour
Seeing the lightshow at the Canadian House Of Parliament is one of the iconic things to do in Ottawa at night.

One of the most iconic places to visit in Ottawa is the grand Parliament Hill that houses Canada’s legislature.

When you visit this complex during the day, you will be amazed by the artworks, lush grounds & many organized tours that take you through the history of the building.

At night, the parliament grounds become even more alluring with buildings lit beautifully, and a sound and Light show with spectacular lighting effects.

Depending on the season and during special events, you will find giant images displayed on the Parliament Buildings along with music appropriate for the occasion.

The centrally located Parliament Hill buildings are just a short distance from all the central areas including ByWard Market, Rideau Canal and the banks of the Ottawa river, making it convenient even for a short visit.

Recommended tour: Ottawa Small Group Night Tour with River Cruise + Light Show

2- Take A Haunted Walk Tour After Dark

Explore Ottawa’s scary side by taking a guiding haunted walk tour through the city centre.

This guided tour happens all year-round regardless of the season, where you can learn all about Ottawa’s dark past while you slowly walk through the central areas like the Ottawa Jail Hostel, Bytown Museum, Fairmont Chateau and the Byward Market.

Be prepared to hear stories of mystery, murder and massacres and take cover if you see a sudden movement in that dark corner or a scary silhouette watching you from a window.

Your haunted tour guide will be dressed in black holding a lantern; all you will need for this scary and fun tour is a strong heart.

Recommended tours:

3- Go On A Nightime Guided Tour Of Ottawa

Ottawa Like a Local: Customized Private Tour
Seeing the fireworks at night Ottawa.

One of the best experiences you can have in Ottawa is by taking a nighttime guided tour of the city.

You can go on a group night tour that will take you to the light show at Parliament Hill, drive past multiple points of interest like the Supreme Court, ByWard market, Rockcliffe Park, Major’s Hill Park, Nepean Point, Canadian Museum of history all while an experienced guide explains Ottawa’s history and importance in Canada.

Some tours also include a night cruise on the Ottawa River and dinner in a prominent restaurant, so do check out the package details before booking.

You can also go on a Rideau Canal Cruise, or even travel aboard an amphibious bus that will surely make the tour more fun and memorable, especially for your kids.

Recommended tours:

4- Enjoy A Craft Beer Tour

City Beers: Bus Tour of Ottawa Breweries
Drinking craft beer might be what to do at night in Ottawa to fill in some time.

Ottawa is home to more than a dozen popular independent breweries making it a top destination to taste locally brewed craft beer.

Known for using high-quality ingredients, each of Ottawa’s craft breweries have their own set of admirers who prefer unique blends and unconventional or locally sourced elements like exotic hops, spices, or fruits in their beers compared to mainstream brands.

Whether you’re a fan of traditional ale and lager, hoppy IPAs or dark stouts, want to experiment with fruity flavours or sour beer, you’ll find a drinkable craft beer to suit your taste.

Join a brewery tour and learn more about the process from a helpful guide, visit popular breweries on a DIY tour on your own or have a relaxed evening by visiting a restaurant or bar that serves different local craft beers. 

Keep an eye on the beer events that happen in Ottawa throughout the year like the Ottawa Craft Beer Festival, Brewfest Ottawa, National Capital Craft Beer Week and others.

Recommended tours:

5- Enjoy Fine Dining At A Riverside Restaurant

Whether you want to try the sophistication of French cuisine, enjoy the hearty flavours of Canadian and American classics, satisfy your craving for Indian, Chinese, Italian, Korean or other any international cuisine, or explore fusion cuisines, you will always find fine dining options in Ottawa.

Downtown Ottawa around the Parliament Hill area, including Elgin Street and the pedestrian-only Spark Street, is home to some of the top dining establishments.

Here you’ll find international flavours, innovative and experimental Canadian cuisine, and perhaps a Canadian politician sitting at the next table!

ByWard Market’s upscale restaurants serve everything from Canadian and French cuisine to Asian fusion.

If you like Italian cuisine, Little Italy offers a variety of elegant restaurants with authentic Italian flavours and dining experiences.

Just south of Downtown, the charming Glebe area has high-end dining options with restaurants that emphasize local ingredients and creative takes on Canadian classics.

If you like tree-lined streets, one-of-a-kind boutiques and want to spend time in welcoming outdoor spaces, dine at a restaurant in Ottawa’s trendy Westboro Village where you’ll find fine dining options with a focus on farm-to-table and artisanal dishes.

Recommended tour: Old-Aylmer Food Tour – Food Tour From Ottawa

6- Spend An Evening At ByWard Market

Poutine Curly Fries With Beef Meat Topped With Cheese And Mayo
Eating poutine is one of the things to do at night in Ottawa.

ByWard Market is one of Canada’s iconic public markets and a great place to spend your evening.

You can explore pubs, bars, restaurants, galleries and shops such as boutique craft and clothing stores here.

ByWard Market is known for its farmer’s market where you can shop for almost everything you can think of, from crafts to gourmet food.

If you are here in the summer months, there’s a lively atmosphere and nightspots are packed with visitors doing alfresco drinking and dancing. 

The sunset views from the sunset terrace in Andaz Hotel offers some of the best sunset views in Ottawa.

The fast-food kiosks in the market are popular for local savoury and sweet street foods, while you can try one of the many international cuisines including Southern BBQ, Mexican, Indian, Japanese and Italian in the restaurants too. 

7- Explore The Museums At Night

Amphitheater And National Gallery, Ottawa
The National Gallery in Ottawa at night.

If you love museums, Ottawa is the city to go in Canada.

Some museums, such as the Canadian Museum of Nature and Canadian Museum of History, offer late-night access when you can visit after dark, at least on some days.

Check out immersive IMAX experiences in Canadian Museum of History, evening art exhibitions and seminars in the National Gallery or attend a stargazing workshop in Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

Take the kids to the Canada Science and Technology Museum which has evening workshops and demonstrations related to science and technology innovations that children might find interesting.

Experience Canadian art, history, and culture in a new light, after dark.

8- Feel The Thrill Of An Ice Hockey Game

Canada Hockey props
Going to a hockey game is one of the things to do in Ottawa at night depending on the season.

The passion for ice hockey in Canada is a defining aspect of the nation’s culture, and there is no better way to understand this and get your adrenalin pumping than by watching a hockey game with thousands of fans.

Watch a Senator’s game in the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, or watch with the fans in a pub like the Senate Tavern, Hometown Sports Grill or Irene’s Pub on Bank Street.

You can also check out the games in St. Louis Bar & Grill or The Lieutenant’s Pump on Elgin street with a beer in your hand while tucking into pub grub. 

Whether you like ice hockey, or just want to hang out in a happening place, watching a live game with the fans with cheers, jeers and warm Canadian camaraderie will be a memorable evening well spent.

9- Attend A Festival

Ottawa has a number of festivals throughout the year, most of which extend well into the night.

One of the largest festivals in Ottawa is Winterlude that is held in January and February.

This is the time when you will find illuminated ice sculptures, snow playgrounds for children and many more snow and ice related activities that are great for families.

Another popular festival is the Glowfair Festival in summer, famous for its musical concerts, light art installations, shopping and dining options and a host of children’s activities.

The Canadian Tulip Festival in mid-May showcases more than a million tulips all over Ottawa, and the evenings are a lot of fun with concerts, fireworks and light shows.

Ottawa also has music and theatre festivals like the famous RBC Bluesfest in summer, Ottawa Jazz Festival, CityFolk Festival and Ottawa Fringe Festival that are famous across Canada.

Don’t miss the Canada Day festival on 1 July 1st, when you can watch parades, performances, fireworks and enjoy the party atmosphere everywhere.

Recommended: Oh Canada Eh!? Dinner Musical

10- Glide Around An Ice Skating Rink

One of the best things to do for couples, families and kids at night in Ottawa during winter is to put on those skates and glide around.  

The Rideau Canal Skateway is Ottawa’s most famous attractions in the winter, when the canal becomes one of the largest naturally frozen skating rinks in the world, several kilometres long.

The canal area is an ideal spot to spend a romantic evening and the skating rink is open all day in winter.

The Rink of Dreams near City Hall that is well-maintained and beautifully lit-up in winter. 

There are a few smaller community skating rinks in different areas and even indoor arenas in Ottawa where you can take lessons. 

11- Take An Evening Hike At Gatineau Park

For a short trip away from city life into nature, visit the Gatineau Park that lies in Gatineau city just across the river from Ottawa.

The park has well-marked walking and hiking trails amidst diverse landscapes including forests, lakes, waterfalls that are frozen in winter, and many lookout points.

Depending on the weather, you can go to the beaches, canoe on the lake waters, go cycling or mountain biking and even do camping inside the park.

The park is close to urban areas, so you can also come back to Gatineau or Ottawa and enjoy dinner and nightlife once you are done with your adventure.

Don’t forget to take your camera to capture the amazing sunset views, the park’s scenic vistas and even capture glimpses of the local wildlife.

Recommended tour: Gatineau Park Nocturnal Snowshoeing Adventure and Dinner

12- Attend A Performance At the National Arts Centre

A short walk from the Parliament Hill is the colourful National Arts Centre (NAC).

If you are looking to spend an evening watching a Broadway show or a musical or enjoy a concert by Canadian or international artists, this is the place to be.

The centre is a hub of activity throughout the year and has a busy calendar of events, including dance, music, film and theatre.

Don’t miss a performance by the National Arts Center Orchestra, which is highly regarded as a top orchestra. 

The sophisticated NAC building is a treat to visit in the evenings when the ever-changing light displays playing across the NAC’s glass walls beckon you from a distance.

13- Go To A Comedy Club

A great way to unwind and have a laughter filled evening in Ottawa is by going to a comedy club or attend a comedy performance of your favourite artist.

Absolute Comedy Ottawa, Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club, Laugh Lounge are some of the popular comedy clubs that regularly feature comedy shows by upcoming and popular comedians.

Many popular North American comedians regularly do comedy shows in Ottawa at one of the city’s comedy clubs, or performing arts venues like National Arts Centre, Algonquin Commons Theatre and even TD Place for larger shows.

You can even check out the Crackup Comedy Festival, an annual festival that hosts popular comedians at different venues across the city.

14- Try Your Luck At The Casino du Lac-Leamy

If you are looking to spend an evening enjoying gaming and live entertainment, visit the Casino du Lac-Leamy, the only casino in Ottawa.

The casino grounds are situated on the shores of Leamy Lake, just a short drive from Parliament Hill.

You can find slot machines, table games like Blackjack, Baccarat, Poker, Craps, and Roulette, restaurants, bar lounges and even a movie theater here.

If you are someone who loves high stakes gambling, there is a dedicated high limit lounge, and a poker room with regular tournaments and games.

If you are looking for a weekend of fun, try the luxurious accommodations in Hilton Lac-Leamy where you can enjoy amenities like a spa, indoor and outdoor pools and get pampered by room service.

15- Relax And Unwind At Nordik Spa-Nature

When you’re in Ottawa, spend an evening or overnight in a spa resort, the most famous of which is the quiet retreat of Nordik Spa-Nature.

Located 20 minutes from Ottawa, in Gatineau Quebec, Nordik Spa has swimming pools, saunas and massage treatments at a wellness centre modelled on the Scandinavian spa concept amid tranquil nature.

The well-maintained resort has many spa packages, decent dining options and a great way to spend time with your loved ones while getting pampered with wellness treatments, sharing a sauna or a hot tub, and having a relaxed lunch or dinner.

Try out thermal experience of Nordik spa where you cycle through hot baths, saunas, cold plunges and relaxation areas to get thoroughly rejuvenated.

16- Explore A Seasonal Holiday Market

Cycling the Nation's Capital, self guided
Looking for things to do at night in Ottawa? Here’s our list of the top 20.

The best time to experience Ottawa’s local culture, crafts and cuisine is during a seasonal holiday market.

Christmas time in Ottawa is the best time to visit one of the many Christmas markets like Ottawa Christmas Market, Canadian Museum of History Christmas Market and Lansdowne Christmas Market (which is normally the home of the Ottawa Farmers’ Market during other months). 

ByWard market is a year-round market with seasonal celebrations inspiring seasonal stalls, decorations and events.

If you are ready for a historical adventure, visit the Upper Canada Village, a Victorian-era village that depicts life in a rural English Canadian setting during the year 1866.

A couple of hours drive from Ottawa, this village is popular for its seasonal celebrations including a spectacular light display known as Alight at Night, which illuminates the village every night from the end of November through December.

17- Enjoy Ottawa’s Nightlife

If you are looking to have a fun evening in Ottawa, get ready to enjoy Ottawa’s nightlife.

Visit the historic ByWard Market that is filled with many bars, pubs, and lounges that offer everything from local craft beers to sophisticated cocktails.

The lively Elgin and Bank Streets in Centretown area are home to numerous pubs, bars, and restaurants, providing a perfect setting for pub hopping.

Visit the Westboro area where you’ll find a variety of unique bars and pubs, offering an array of craft beers, wines, and inventive cocktails.

If you want to have a relaxed dinner followed with a bit of pub crawl, check out the pubs in the Little Italy area.

Many of the pubs and lounges also have live music bands or DJs, so do check out their schedules to plan your pub visit if you like an evening sipping a cocktail with a band playing your favourite songs.

18- Relieve Your Stress At Smash Room Ottawa

If you want to try out an unconventional and exhilarating entertainment experience in Ottawa, you must try the Smash Room.

The Smash Room is a controlled environment where you can smash, break, and destroy various objects like glass bottles, electronic devices, furniture, and other breakable objects safely.

Smash Room Ottawa offers an extraordinary entertainment experience, providing an outlet for both physical exertion and emotional release and even enjoy a unique evening with friends and colleagues.

This form of recreational destruction is designed to let people unleash their inner energy while the objects destroyed are appropriately recycled with environmentally responsible practices.

Recommended: Ottawa Street Art Outdoor Escape Game

19- Visit Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica

Notre Dame Cathedral is easy to identify from a distance with its skyline dominating spires and its colourful and exceptionally detailed interiors.

Right opposite the National Gallery of Canada, the cathedral is illuminated at night, and you can see the Cathedral’s twin spires, intricate design and Neo-Gothic architecture from afar.

If you are visiting the Cathedral during a special evening event such as a concert, vigil, or a seasonal celebration, you can also explore the colourful interiors with ornate altars and sculptures and the Cathedral’s beautifully vaulted ceiling.

A trip to the Cathedral will give you a calm and spiritual evening.

Recommended tour: Ottawa Self-Guided Audio Tour

20- Have Fun At Funhaven Indoor Amusement Park

Funhaven amusement park is a fun entertainment venue where you can enjoy arcade games, rides, bowling, laser tag, and rides along with your family.

Kids will love creative play areas and virtual reality linked games.

With attractions suitable for all ages, you can be assured of an evening well spent with your family.

Funhaven also hosts themed nights, seasonal festivals, and other unique events throughout the year, so do check the event calendar to enjoy the extra fun activities.

The venue is open till late evening and has dining options to take care of your dinner requirements.

For more exciting cities at night, read:

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Vamsee Chandra lives in Hyderabad in India and is a financial markets trader by profession. An engineer with an MBA, he is a free-spirited traveller at heart. He has visited 17 countries on three different continents (Asia, Europe and North America) and has a personal target of visiting 50 countries before he retires. His favourite city is Paris, for its amazing museums and people. His favourite building is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, and his favourite countryside is the Bavarian region in Germany, where the Neuschwanstein Castle is located.