Top 8 Holiday Things to Do with Kids in Ottawa

The holidays are upon us, and that means that there are a plethora of meals to plan, presents to buy, and charities to support. But wait! Before you get caught up in all of the “things to do” that accompany the season, be sure to plan a bit of fun – especially if you have children in your life. From festivals to Santa sightings, here is our countdown of the top 8 places to head with the young ones in Ottawa at Christmastime.

Vintage Lights Ottawa

8. Vintage Village of Lights

The Vintage Village of Lights is brimming with merriment that kids of all ages will surely enjoy. Children can send a Santagram, ride a horse-drawn wagon, decorate gingerbread, embellish ornaments, sing around the campfire, and explore the early 1900s village. It truly is a festive time that has something for everyone at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum.

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Manotick Village Ottawa

7. Manotick Village Christmas

Manotick Village Christmas is the perfect event for those who want to check multiple activities off their list at once. Shop at the Crafter’s Market, have breakfast with Father and Merry Christmas and bundle up to watch the Santa Claus Parade. The day is filled with other festivities that include horse-drawn wagon rides, strolling carolers, and photos with Santa. Be sure to head to local businesses to claim your free gingerbread cookie and taste roasted chestnuts. Yum!

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Stanley's Christmas Village

6. Stanley’s Christmas Village

This event is just 20 minutes southeast of Ottawa but is worth the drive. Stanley’s Christmas Village is an interactive activity that allows children to see the holidays through the eyes of the elves themselves. Kids can take a horse-drawn ride to an enchanted village to play games, explore, and cozy up to the bonfire. Write a letter to Santa, visit the Cookie Kitchen, and get a special treat before heading to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate to finish out your time at the village.

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5. How the Grinch Spied Christmas

Diefenbunker is billed as Canada’s Cold War Museum, and they definitely take a different twist on the holidays. Learn how to be a good spy in the style of the grouchy guy himself during their How the Grinch Spied Christmas event. The activities are free with museum admission, and there will also be crafts, a scavenger hunt, hot cocoa, and a Whoville-centric movie at this creative and memorable event.

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Ottawa Santa Shuffle

4. Ottawa Santa Shuffle

Adults can shuffle in this annual 5k Fun Run while the kiddos participate in the 1km Elf Walk. No matter their pace families can enjoy this annual event together. The best part is that dressing up is encouraged! Have fun getting together crazy Christmas costumes like Rudolph, Mrs. Claus, or the 3 Wise Men as you prepare to burn off a few pre-Christmas calories at the Ottawa Santa Shuffle.

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National Gallery Christmas Tree Lighting

3. National Gallery Christmas Tree Lighting

The National Gallery makes their Christmas Tree Lighting quite the event! Families can have free access to the exhibits and also stop by the art-making activity stations. Adults can try their hand at making flower brooches while the kids take a ride on the mini-train. Pose for photos in their huge picture frames, which are perfect for selfies, or sing along to holiday music as you enjoy the festivities that surround this tree lighting ceremony.

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Ottawa Santa Shuffle

2. Santa Cares Photo Experience

Does your child need a sensory-friendly visit with Santa? The Santa Cares Photo Experience is meant for those kids who don’t want to be in front of crowds as they talk to Mr. Claus. Seeing Santa is complementary, and photo packages can be purchased documenting your child’s time with the big guy in red.

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Glow Marketplace

And #1! Christmas Glow Ottawa

If having a winter wonderland indoors seems too good to be true – it’s not! That is exactly what happens when guests visit Christmas Glow Ottawa. Adults and kids alike will enjoy light displays, live entertainment, and interactive hanging lights that make the perfect backdrop for an adorable photo. There are also a ton of child-centric attractions such as bouncy reindeer, visits with Santa, playing on the Magic Castle playground, and a ride on Glen the Glow-comotive. Adults can cross items off of their gift list by shopping at the artisan and boutique market booths, and families can enjoy the many food and drink options. Bonus: there is a
licensed bar with seasonal beverages for those who are of age. While you are there don’t forget to let the little ones stroll through the light tunnel and sit on the LED swings. Christmas Glow Ottawa is truly a magical place to be during the holidays as they offer a bit of something for everyone.

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No matter what you choose, be sure to plan ahead to include some family fun along the way. Want an extra tip? Sing carols and look at lights while you are on your way home to make your time even more festive.

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