Want to watch the Changing of Guards ceremony in Ottawa Here’s what you should know

Want to watch the Changing of Guards ceremony in Ottawa? Here’s what you should know

Whether you’re a visitor in Ottawa or just a busy local, the Changing of Guards ceremony is one event you should definitely see at least once in your life! 

Whenever the season for this event comes along and I have some time to spare and want to go out, I head on over downtown with family or some friends to watch. 

It also helps that the Changing of the Guard ceremony is free, so we usually go out to eat after with the money we end up saving! So if you’re planning on watching this event, we’ll gladly reveal everything you need to know before you go.

When is the Changing of Guards ceremony?

This Changing of Guards ceremony usually takes place from late June to August every year. During this period, you can watch it daily at 10:00 AM.

Where is the Changing of Guards ceremony?

The Changing of the Guards ceremony usually takes place at Parliament Hill in Ottawa every year. 

What to Expect from the Changing of Guards Ceremony

During the Changing of Guards Ceremony, you can expect a parade, tons of photo opportunities, great music, and even an audio presentation before starting! And at exactly 10:00 AM, the soldiers will arrive at the Hill to begin the ceremony.

Changing of Guards Ceremony

Even before the Changing of Guards ceremony begins, don’t be surprised to find small crowds gathered around to also watch, especially since it’s a free event. 

We suggest that you be there at Parliament Hill’s lawn by 9:45 AM at the latest to be able to listen to the audio presentation explaining the symbolism and history contained in the ceremony.

The Changing of the Guard Ceremony starts with a parade originating from Cartier Square Drill Hall. Led by a band, the ‘New Guard’ divides into two sections and marches from Cartier Square to Parliament Hill.

As the ‘New Guard’ makes their way to Parliament Hill, the ‘Old Guard’ assembles behind the East Block. 

Around 9:45 AM, guided by the Pipes and Drums of the Ceremonial Guard, they’ll proceed to the east lawn, where they’ll wait for the arrival of the ‘New Guard’.

And precisely at 10:00, as the band plays “The 10 Provinces March,” the ‘New Guard’ will reach Parliament Hill. The parade then advances onto the east lawn, the band positioned at the lawn’s northern edge, facing south.

The ‘Old Guard’ will stand on the west side of the east lawn, facing the east block. Meanwhile, the ‘New Guard’ marches to the east side of the lawn, facing west towards the ‘Old Guard’.

With the command “Get on parade,” the ‘New Guard’ advances to the tune of “The British Grenadiers” and arranges themselves.

The ‘New Guard’ is inspected by their company commander and will stand at ease. Afterward, the ‘Old Guard’ also undergoes inspection.

As the regimental colors are brought forward, the parade is ordered to present arms. The ‘New Guard’ will advance at a slow march while both the ‘Old Guard’ and ‘New Guard’ present arms.

Following the salute, the ‘Old Guard’ commander presents the key to the Guard Room at Rideau Hall to the ‘New Guard’ commander. The parade then forms into three ranks and proceeds at a slow march, transitioning to a quick march.

If the weather is unfavorable that day, the ceremony may be canceled, so be sure to check the local forecast before heading to Parliament Hill!