Imagine hosting your conference delegates at a glittering gala dinner set amidst the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles. Or surrounding them with the largest collection of Canadian and Indigenous art anywhere. Or challenging them to brave the rapids of one of Canada’s mightiest rivers inside a rubber raft.
Ottawa, Canada’s capital, offers business event planners and delegates a uniquely Canadian blend of cultural attractions and outdoor experiences that inspire. From landmark national sites and monuments to galleries and museums, to quiet courtyards and thrilling adventures – Ottawa is ready for the return to in-person business events and ready to inspire delegates’ off-agenda hours with discovery, creativity, deeper connections and lasting memories.
“There’s no replacing live events, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be welcoming them back to the capital with open arms,” says Lesley Mackay, vice-president of meetings and major events at Ottawa Tourism. “Ottawa reflects and showcases the best of Canada all in one place and we encourage everyone to experience it while they’re here.”
Seven national museums and an eclectic mix of local museums in this city of one million people tell the stories of Canada like nowhere else. The Canadian Museum of History is a great place to start, with its magnificent Grand Hall and First Peoples’ Hall celebrating Indigenous culture, and its sweeping Canadian History Hall chronicling the journey of our country and people. Just across the Ottawa River, the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries at the National Gallery of Canada tell a similar story but through the creativity of both historic and contemporary artists. Other national museums dedicated to nature, science and technology, aviation and space, war, and agriculture and food likewise tell the inspiring stories of Canadian discovery, innovation, sacrifice and shared experiences.
“Many of our national museums plus the National Arts Centre offer truly unique event spaces and full catering for offsite events,” notes Mackay. “Some of the most memorable business events hosted here have included a gala or reception at one of these marvellous venues.”
Local museums and galleries tell stories closer to home. The Bytown Museum, located next to Parliament Hill in the oldest stone structure in the city, recounts the stories of the construction of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and of Ottawa’s early days as a rough and tumble lumber town. In the city’s far west end, the Diefenbunker is Canada’s Cold War Museum, a massive underground complex meant to house Canada’s national government in the event of a nuclear attack. Also in the city’s west end, Mādahòkì Farm celebrates Indigenous culture with seasonal festivals and on-going programming. And back downtown, the Ottawa Art Gallery is a spectacular new venue housing a superb collection of Canadian art and presenting special exhibitions by local Ottawa artists.
For those who simply want to see the capital’s many sights and landmarks, the choices are plenty–with many ways to see them. Hop-on/hop-off double decker bus tours are a great way to get to every major attraction at your own pace. For a different perspective, boat tours ply the waters of both the Rideau Canal and Ottawa River, while Lady Dive offers the only amphibious tour. There are also numerous walking tours including Haunted Walks of Ottawa, which tell harrowing tales about mystery, murder and mayhem in early Ottawa. Guided bike tours and rentals take advantage of the city’s 800+ kilometres of cycling paths, many of which pass by national sights and attractions. And for those who prefer to remain above it all, helicopter and historic biplane tours lift off daily from spring through fall from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.
Some draw their inspiration from physical activity and the great Canadian outdoors–and Ottawa doesn’t disappoint. For the adventurous, there is interprovincial ziplining over the Ottawa River and white water rafting on the Ottawa River – both in the heart of the city. Still not thrilling enough? The region is also home to Canada’s highest bungee jump. The aforementioned 800+ kms of cycling paths offer both scenic biking and more challenging trails, including pathways winding into the nearby Gatineau Hills wilderness area–where mountain bike trails are also available for those so inclined.
“Ottawa is truly blessed with a wealth of easily accessible and totally inspiring cultural attractions and experiences that business event attendees can enjoy before or after their conference and during their off-hours,” says Mackay. “It’s great to be getting back to in-person and we’re the perfect place for returning to face-to-face.”
The Ottawa Tourism Business Events team is here to inspire you to host your next meeting or conference in the capital. Contact us today.