Let the cool winds blow and the fire blaze bright – winter is officially here! Whether you’re a student needing a...

Let the cool winds blow and the fire blaze bright – winter is officially here! Whether you’re a student needing a break from studying, a parent who wants to have some fun time with the kids, or simply someone looking for some winter fun, here’s a list of the top five activities to enjoy this holiday season in Ottawa.

1. Skating on Parliament Hill (December 7th – February 28th)

For the first time ever, enjoy some skating time on the Canada 150 ice rink, located right on Parliament Hill. With the amazing backdrop scenery of Parliament and its Peace Tower, this skating rink is one of a kind, and not to mention, free! To book your personalized skating pass, visit the Canada 150 Rink website at least 2 days prior to your anticipated skating date. So lace up your skates and head down to Parliament for a great time.

2. Magic of Lights (November 17th – January 6th)

Not too keen on spending time outside in the cold? No problem! Take a drive to Wesley Clover Parks and enjoy the Magic of Lights event – a 2 kilometre “drive through” experience one of Ottawa’s brightest and most vibrant light displays. With nearly one million LED lights on display, this is a show you won’t want to miss out on. The show is held daily from 5:00pm – 10:00pm, so head over to the Magic of Lights website to book your vehicle pass and get going!

3. Christmas in the Market (December 2nd – 17th)

From complimentary wagon rides to Christmas choirs, head down to the ByWard Market for some holiday fun this year. With one weekend left to take advantage of these events, there’s no better time to take a trip downtown.

4. Alight at Night (December 1st – January 6th)

As Eastern Ontario’s biggest outdoor light festival, Alight at Night is known for its amazing transformation of the Upper Canada Village into a winter wonderland. Featuring close to one million nights encompassing the heritage buildings, trees and fences of this village, visitors may enjoy rides on the life-sized Toy Train that winds around the village, taking a listen to some holiday music and carolers, or even taking a trip on the romantic Pommier Carriage for two. To purchase your tickets, visit the Upper Canada Village website.

5. The Haunted Walk’s Nightmare Before/After X-Mas (December 5th – 30th)

For those interested in activities not so dressed in holiday spirit, check out the annual Haunted Walk – Christmas edition. Take a tour inside one of Ottawa’s oldest and most haunted buildings, the Bytowne Museum, and listen to the stories of some of the more frightening spine-tingling Christmas-themed ghost stories. Book your tickets now at the Haunted Walk website.

As the holiday season draws near, Ottawa comes alive in lights, decorations, and not to mention Christmas cheer. For more events that you might find interesting, check out the Calendar of Events for Canada’s 150th here, for daily updates and schedules.