It’s the most wonderful time

Posted on Monday, November 21, 2016

The Peace Tower and shrubbery decorated with holiday lights and photographed at night.

Parliament Hill is an enchanting place to visit, from early December into the New Year, when aglow with festive lights. Photo: Jamie McCaffrey

By Linda Scales

Winter has arrived, folks, and with it, the start of much seasonal fun. The Gazette helps out by selecting some events and activities for you from an abundance of choices.

On campus

  • Why procrastinate? Get your gift shopping done early at the Community Life Service’s Holiday Market being held in the University Centre from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on November 29 to December 1. Or visit any of the numerous craft shows happening in halls and community centres around the city.
  • The School of Music presents its annual A Musical Offering for Christmas (see “Other Ensembles”) on December 7 at noon in Room 112 of Tabaret Hall. Cash donations benefit the Food Bank 

Seasonal music

  • Enjoy the seasonal music of the Peace Tower Carillon’s 53 bells each weekday at noon. Parliament Hill and nearby are the best places to listen. Free
  • For more than 50 years, A Charlie Brown Christmas has heralded the start of the holiday season for countless Canadian children. On December 1 at 7 p.m., revisit those wonder years when the Jerry Granelli Trio performs excerpts from this television classic at Centretown’s Dominion-Chalmers United Church.
  • Like to sing? Come Sing Messiah (aka “Sing-along Messiah”) is an annual community favourite for everyone wishing to sing G.F. Handel’s masterpiece, on December 2 at 8 p.m., at Dominion-Chalmers United Church.


  • Attending a production of The Nutcracker every year is as Canadian as maple syrup. In Ottawa, the Alberta Ballet will perform at the National Arts Centre until December 4, and Ballet Jörgen will dance at both the Centrepointe and Shenkman theatres on December 14, 15 and 17.

Baby, it’s cold outside

  • The canal isn’t ready for skating, but the Sens Rink of Dreams at City Hall is open every day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (weather permitting). The 12,500 square foot ice surface is one of the largest outdoor rinks in Ottawa. Bring your skates. Free
  • Cut your own tree at one of the many tree farms near Ottawa. It is a unique outdoor experience.
A paper crane, a string of cranberries and a knitted flower decorate a Christmas tree.

An origami crane decorates a Christmas tree. Paper cranes are regarded as symbols of hope and healing during challenging times. Photo: The Bees

Festive lights

  • On Parliament Hill, the 32nd edition of Christmas Lights Across Canada kicks off on December 7 at 7 p.m. with an illumination ceremony. Join the thousands (bundled warmly) for music, hot chocolate and Beavertails. Free
  • Take a leisurely drive through Ottawa neighbourhoods to find your favourite festive displays on homes and trees. Free
  • There are one million brilliant reasons to stroll through Upper Canada Village for the Alight at Night Festival between December 2 and January 7.

It’s a time of giving

  • Volunteer with one of the many charities needing extra help in December. Organizations such as uOttawa’s neighbour, the Ottawa Mission, attempt to bring some joy into the lives of the lonely and needy.
  • Organize a food drive with your friends, family or work/study group? The Ottawa Food Bank has how-to instructions. Or, if time is short, donate to the Student Federation food bank to help hungry students.
  • Open your home to uOttawa international students alone in Ottawa for the holidays. The International Office matches students with uOttawa staff interested in inviting some of international guests to a special meal or for other festivities. Interested? Email Sophie Wauquier to arrange to host a student.
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