There is no shortage of exciting events that take place in Ottawa. Throughout the year, there are a lot of awesome shows that I go to with my friends and family for a fun time.
One location that comes to mind that features a lot of great stuff is the Wesley Clover Parks area. It’s a recreational place with a huge variety of available activities.
I’ve lost count of how many shows I’ve seen and gone to in this location, and I really had an awesome experience every time. If you want to experience the park’s activities for yourself, here are a few recurring events that I highly recommend.
Ottawa Horse Trials
When: Late spring or early summer (subject to change)
The Ottawa Horse Trials is a multi-day competition where riders and horses show off their skills and athleticism in dressage, show jumping, and cross-country.
Although I’m not a very big fan of horses, I find it impressive how well the riders and their horses work together to perform incredible displays of agility and discipline.
Now, let’s talk more about the different segments that take place in the event.
First up, we have Dressage. This is a sport that involves training horses so they move in a more disciplined manner.
Riders and horses move in a controlled way in an enclosed arena where judges look at how well the horse listens, its flexibility, and how it looks aesthetically.
They also observe the level of communication between the rider and the horse as the former guides the latter around.
Next, we’ve got show jumping. This will put the horse’s speed, accuracy, and distance to the test on a course requiring different jumps, such as verticals, oxers, and combinations.
In order to finish the course quickly, the horse and rider must jump over these obstacles without breaking any rails. It’s seriously satisfying to watch the horses and their masters make perfect jumps in several well-calculated and rhythmic movements.
Cross-Country is the final event and the one I find the most exciting. It’s a challenging sport that tests the horse and rider’s endurance, courage, and ability to work as a team.
The trail goes through natural areas and has fences, ditches, banks, and water crossings as obstacles. We watch the riders try to get to the end of the course by getting over each obstacle, and we root for their success.
Regardless of skill level, anyone can join these events. If you’re interested in taking part, you can participate in different divisions based on your skill level and how hard you want the competition to be.
As the competition goes on, we get to see how the riders handle the horses, their riding technique, and the athleticism and gracefulness of the horses.
If you are a big fan of horses, I highly recommend that you watch this event. The incredible display of feats by the riders and their noble steeds will leave you on the edge of your seat.
Even for more casual watchers like myself, I can confidently say that you will be entertained by watching this incredible show.
When: Late May to Early June
The Ottawa Ribfest is a popular annual food festival that celebrates one of Canada’s all-time favorite food items: Ribs. People from all over the country who love this tasty dish get together to eat delicious BBQ ribs.
The festival is usually held at Wesley Clover Parks or another good spot in Ottawa. It lasts for several days, so people have plenty of time to enjoy all the available activities.
At the Ottawa Ribfest, barbecue and grilling experts from Canada and sometimes other countries show off their skills. Each vendor sets up a booth or food truck and sells ribs made in their own special way.
Being able to walk around the festival grounds and try different kinds of ribs is what makes this festival so exciting for me.
Unique flavors such as St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, or Texas-style ribs are bound to get your mouth watering as you dig into the tender meat around you.
As someone who’s been to this festival several times already, it’s really hard to choose which flavor is the best since they’re all so delicious. I think the best way to enjoy this event is to be adventurous and try out every flavor you come across.
Although ribs are the main star of the show, you can also find a lot of other grilled meats at the festival. There are also pulled pork, chicken, sausages, brisket, and even vegetarian options from the vendors, so there is something for everyone to enjoy.
As we eat delicious food, live music performances are there to make the atmosphere lively and fun. Local bands or musicians take the stage and play different kinds of music to make the festival more exciting.
Overall, I consider the Ottawa Ribfest to be a great event for the whole family, with things to do for everyone. You can also bring your kids here to play games, have inflatables, get their faces painted, and of course, eat ribs.
For thirst quenchers, there are drinks like soda, water, and alcoholic drinks like beer and cider that can be bought separately or as part of a package deal.
Also, there’s a market where local artists and businesses sell things like BBQ sauces, spices, grilling tools, and other food-related things. So if you want to eat some scrumptious ribs and up your grilling game, make sure to check out this event!
When: Between February to May
The Ottawa Poutinefest is another popular food festival that I love to visit in Wesley Clover Parks. As its name implies, it honors poutine, one of the most famous food items in Canada.
At this event, both locals and tourists from around the world visit Ottawa to try a wide range of creative and tasty poutine dishes.
The Ottawa Poutinefest usually goes on for a few days, so you have plenty of time to try all the different kinds of poutine.
At the festival, you will find plenty of my fellow locals and Canadians from other cities selling their own versions of the snack in their respective booths.
Whether it’s traditional poutine with cheese curds and gravy or gourmet versions that have a bit of a twist, you really can’t go wrong with the flavors here.
To shake things up, live music is often played at the festival, which really enhances the party-like atmosphere and goes well with the tasty food. Local bands and musicians play on the stage, letting people enjoy their meals with more zest.
People of all ages can get together for this festival, and everyone encourages it. In the children’s areas, there are inflatables, face painting, games, and other fun things to do so they can have a good time with you.
Even though poutine is the main attraction at the festival, there are a lot of other foods to choose from. Some of these things could be traditional Canadian snacks, favorite street foods, desserts, or drinks to go with the poutine.
There are also specialized stalls where local businesses and artists can show off and sell their goods. Here, you can buy gourmet sauces, spices, cooking tools, and other awesome stuff to add to your kitchen.
Ottawa Dog Festival
When: Spring (March, April, May) and Summer (June, July, August)
Are you a dog lover like me? Then this next festival I’ll be talking about is a must-go for you.
The Ottawa Dog Festival is a community event that shows how important dogs are to us. It gives us dog owners, dog lovers, and businesses a place to meet and spend a day doing activities, learning, and having fun with our pets.
At the festival, there will be a wide range of canine-related vendors selling goods and services made just for our furry friends. These can include things like pet food, toys, grooming services, training materials, and more.
The festival often has activities that we can do together with our fur babies, such as agility courses, obedience demonstrations, and a wide variety of dog sports.
These activities give your pet a chance to show off their skills. It also allows you to learn from and play with your pet in a fun and friendly setting.
In addition to the booths and activities, the festival also has several informational sessions and workshops. You can learn more about dog health, training, being a responsible pet owner, and finding a new pet in these sessions.
If you’ve been wanting to hear from an expert in the field in person, this is your chance to do so. I guarantee you will learn something new that will help you be a better fur parent to your adorable baby.
Besides that, the Ottawa Dog Festival also features live performances, contests, and demonstrations about dogs to further enhance the fun ambiance of the event.
If you come at the right time, you might even get a chance to see special appearances by famous dogs or animal trainers!
Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show
When: Once or twice a year (Months vary)
For my fashionista friends out there, the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show is an essential event you need to go to.
This is a show that celebrates vintage fashion and offers a unique shopping experience for fashion fans and collectors. It brings together vendors who sell vintage clothes, accessories, and other fashion items.
At the show, you can go wild and try on clothes from different eras, styles, and fashion trends that catch your eye. There is a wide variety of options, including retro dresses, suits, coats, hats, handbags, jewelry, and shoes.
For a collector like me, the show provides an opportunity to find one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect the past. It offers vintage clothes from the 1920s flapper era to the 1950s and 1970s disco scene.
I’ve found a good amount of rare finds here that now sit comfortably in my collection, but it did take some effort before I managed to get them. I recommend that you take your time with each stall and go through each of them thoroughly to find something nice.
In addition to clothing, the show may have vendors selling vintage textiles, fabrics, and sewing supplies. This allows you to be more creative with your clothing and incorporate vintage materials into your own customized piece.
Of course, the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show is not just a place to shop; it’s also a gathering where you can find fellow vintage fashion lovers.
This is your chance to meet and connect with others who share your passion for vintage clothes, exchange styling tips, and learn about fashion history.
Finally, the show also includes fashion shows complete with runways, live music, workshops on styling and restoring vintage clothes, and vintage-themed photo booths. It truly has everything you could ever want in a fashion bazaar.
Whether you’re a seasoned vintage collector, a fashion lover searching for unique pieces, or simply interested in the history of fashion, the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show is a joyful event just for you.
Ottawa Wedding Show
When: Varies; the main shows occur during Spring (March to May) and Fall (September to November)
Getting married soon? Here’s an event you want to keep tabs on with your fiance.
The Ottawa Wedding Show is a wedding-only event that brings together engaged couples, wedding planners, and anyone else involved in planning a ceremony.
At this event, there are a lot of exhibitors with different wedding-related goods and services that you might be able to hire for your special day. This includes photographers, caterers, wedding planners, decorators, cake designers, and more.
One of the best parts of the show, in my opinion, is the fashion show. It features wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, grooms wear, and other wedding clothes.
This shows the newest styles, trends, and designs in the world of wedding fashion. This specific segment of the event holds a special place in my heart because this is where I found the design that I would wear for my own wedding.
Besides that, the Ottawa Wedding Show also has a lot of seminars put on by experts in the wedding industry with plenty of helpful information and tips.
They cover things like how to plan a wedding, how to stick to a budget, how to act properly, and the latest trends in the industry.
The goal of these sessions is to help you figure out how to plan your wedding. It also gives you tips on how to make your big day really special.
This is also your chance to see samples of their work and learn about their services and prices in case you want to work with them.
For its overall atmosphere, you and your soon-to-be spouse can expect to feel like you are at a party, which immerses you in the world of weddings.
No matter where you and your fiance are in the planning process, the show gives you a chance to do a lot more.
When: Late May or early June
This last event is for the alcohol lovers out there. The Ottawa Beerfest is a lively beer festival that honors the craft beer industry.
It brings together beer lovers, brewers, and vendors from Ottawa and other places to show off a wide range of beers and make the event fun and interactive.
At the Ottawa Beerfest, we can try craft beers from local and nearby breweries with different styles, flavors, and specialties. With the city’s lively brewery scene, I often take this chance to try some new blends with my friends and older relatives.
There are also food vendors at the festival who sell snacks and meals that go well with the beers and add to the overall experience. If you feel a little hungry, put down that beer mug and try out the delicious selection of food around you!
Overall, the Ottawa Beerfest is fun and festive thanks to its lively atmosphere and music performances.
One of my favorite parts of the event is the chance to talk with brewers and other professionals in the industry and learn more about how beer is made.
It gives me plenty of insight as to how they make the beer, which just makes me appreciate the brew further.
The festival also wants to promote responsible drinking by hosting seminars, workshops, and tastings run by experts in the field. As delicious as beer can be, I think we can all agree that too much alcohol isn’t good for our bodies.
If you’re a beer lover with an appreciation for alcohol, do not miss out on this event!