12 Great Family Fun Events (Winter 2017-2018)

Parenting Times rounds up some of the best places to visit and activities for family fun this winter in the Ottawa area.

The Haunted Walk’s Nightmare Before/After X-mas! 

When: Dec. 5, 9, 16, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29 & 30, 2017
Where: Departing from Haunted Walk
Ticket Office, 46 1/2 Sparks St.
What: Join us as we explore the darker side of the festive season. Hear about strange and frightening holiday traditions from around the world and gather in close as we share creepy Christmas-themed ghost stories. The majority of the tour will take place inside the spooky Bytown Museum, one of Ottawa’s oldest and most haunted buildings. Once inside, you’ll learn why some Haunted Walk tour guides are too scared to give tours of the museum –
even at Christmas time! Play close
attention to the stories and you might
just win some extra presents before the night is through!

Website: www.hauntedwalk.com/ottawa-tours

33rd Edition of Christmas Lights Across Canada

When: Dec.7, 2017 to Jan.7, 2018
Where: Confederation Boulevard and Parliament Hill
What: A lovely free winter event: national museums and other prominent landmarks provide the perfect backdrop for Christmas lights that brighten the downtown. Bring the whole family to view the illuminated beauty.

Website: www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/christmas-lights.html

DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition Journey from Sketch to Screen

When: Dec. 8, 2017-April 8, 2018
Where: Canadian Museum of History, 100 Laurier St., Gatineau
What: From the makers of Shrek, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon, comes a magical exhibition celebrating 20 years of animation. DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition reveals the art, technology and storytelling that has made DreamWorks Animation the world’s largest animation studio. Discover the secrets of digital animation from sketch to screen through interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, original concept art, maquettes and more.
Website: www.historymuseum.ca/dreamworks

The Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition

When: Dec. 13, 7 p.m., Dec. 14, 1:30 p.m. & 7 p.m., Dec. 16, 1 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.
Shenkman Arts Centre, 245 Centrum Blvd. and Centrepointe Theatres, 101 Centrepointe Dr.
What: Canada’s Ballet Jörgen is back with its Nutcracker for five performances scheduled for Shenkman Arts Centre on Dec. 13 and 14 and for Centrepointe Theatre on Dec. 16. Featuring choreography by Artistic Director and Founder Bengt Jörgen and the timeless music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, this holiday favourite continues to delight audiences of all ages. A distinctly Canadian Nutcracker is set in Algonquin Park – where Klara meets lumberjacks, Mounties and woodland creatures in her dream journey, and dancers perform against 20th Century landscape paintings by the Group of Seven and other Canadian artists.
Website: www.centrepointetheatre.ca, 

Councillor Rick Chiarelli’s Alcohol Free Family New Year’s Eve

When: Dec. 31, 2017, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Dr.
What: Take in free sleigh rides, music, magic shows, dance showcases, skating parties and of course, the best fireworks show in Ottawa on New Year’s Eve! One of Ottawa’s most successful anti-impaired driving projects that has been partnered with MADD and OSAID through the years. Fireworks start at 10 p.m.
Website: www.alcoholfreenewyears.com

Al Simmons at Centrepointe Theatres

When: Jan. 6, 2018, 2 p.m.
Centrepointe Theatres, 101 Centrepointe Dr.
What: Juno award-winning children’s musician, kooky comic, mad inventor and all-round wacky performer, Al Simmons entertains and enthralls. Known for his eccentric props and costumes, this Vaudevillian show thrills fans of all ages.
Website: www.centrepointetheatre.ca

Hot Wheels® – Race to Win®

When: Until January 7, 2018
Canadian Children’s Museum, inside the Canadian Museum of History, 100 Laurier St., Gatineau
What: Speed, power, performance… buckle up and race with the most famous toy vehicles on the planet — Hot Wheels®! Be part of a dynamic race team working together to build and test the world’s fastest (and safest) speed machines, using Hot Wheels die-cast cars to experiment and play. This behind-the-scenes look at the thrilling world of racing investigates the scientific process for designing super-fast cars. Hands-on experiences, authentic race gear and captivating memorabilia will engage families in the process of experimenting with speed, power and performance using Hot Wheels cars and track as their tools.
Website: www.historymuseum.ca/hotwheels


When: Feb. 2-19, 2018
Various locations in Ottawa and Gatineau
What: Winterlude, the National Capital Region’s ultimate winter celebration, honours our country’s distinct northern climate and culture. Skate on the Rideau Canal, the world’s largest skating rink, check out the ice sculpture competitions, or play in Jacques Cartier Park, North America’s largest snow playground. Check the website for an updated schedule of events.
Website: www.canada.pch.gc.ca

The Gruffalo: Live on Stage

When: Feb. 3, 2018, 10:30 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Centrepointe Theatres, 101 Centrepointe Dr.
What: Join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood in Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Searching for hazelnuts, Mouse meets the cunning Fox, the eccentric old Owl and the party mad Snake. Will the story of the terrifying Gruffalo save Mouse from ending up as dinner for these hungry woodland creatures? After all, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo – is there? There are songs, laughs and scary fun for children aged 3 and up and their grown-ups in this much-loved show that’s toured Britain and the world! 
Website: www.centrepointetheatre.ca

Enjoy the Rideau Canal Skateway

When: Until March 2018 (weather permitting)
Downtown Ottawa
What: Grab your skates, grab the kids and head downtown for a long, leisurely skate that offers Ottawa’s most awe-inspiring views. Every winter, 7.8 kilometres of the Rideau Canal transform into the world’s largest outdoor skating rink, as designated by Guinness World Records. Be sure to stop and savour a steaming hot chocolate and delicious BeaverTail.
Website: www.rcs.ncc-ccn.ca

Sens Rink of Dreams

When: Until March 4, 2018 (weather permitting)
Where: City Hall, 1101 Laurier Ave. W.
What: Enjoy free skating on the state-of-the-art refrigerated Sens Rink of Dreams, open seven days a week (weather permitting). Be sure to bring your own skates, and take advantage of the heated changing facility, open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Afterward, grab a delicious BeaverTail, and take a tour inside City Hall to visit the Barbara Ann Scott Gallery, Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame and the Karsh-Masson Gallery — all galleries are free! Wear a helmet for safety.
Website: www.ottawa.ca

Ottawa Parent & Child Spring Expo

When: April 21-22, 2018
Where: Nepean Sportsplex, 1701 Woodroffe Ave. (Entrance 4)
What: Gather the kids and head to the Nepean Sportsplex for a weekend of family fun and information at Ottawa’s largest parenting show. Parents will find 125 of their favourite Ottawa exhibitors offering important parenting information, and kids will find the beloved super hero characters, Little Ray’s Reptiles, live music, and more. Kids can hug friendly mascots, discover magic, play zones, and many other activities that focus on fun, learning and being healthy and active, including fitness demonstrations, face painting, arts and crafts, a reading corner and much more.  An exciting family event where you and your children can play, learn, and explore, with free parking. Check the website regularly for more entertainment announcements in the New Year!
Tickets go on sale Dec.31, 2017 at
Website: www.parentandchildexpo.ca