1. Lego Imagine Nation Tour
It’s going to be brick city for three days at the EY Centre, which is Ottawa’s stop on the Lego Imagine Nation Tour. It’s a Lego lover’s dream: Kids will be able to jump in and build whatever their hearts desire in the Brick Pit (which is filled with thousands of bricks), get some tips from a Master Model Builder in the Master Builder Lab, try out new Lego video games, take their pictures with 20 life-sized models built out of Lego (including an eight-foot-tall Avengers model) and build a pre-set model, scan it into a gaming experience and play with it! And that’s just a taste of what’s available for Lego fans. Tickets for each session (there are five times to visit over the tour stop) are $28.50. There will also be a lounge area to eat in if you’d like to bring your own meals and snacks.
When: June 10 to 12
More info: legoimaginenationtour.com
2. Summer Solstice Aboriginal Festival and Competition Pow Wow
The heart of this three-day festival at Vincent Massey Park is a celebration of the living culture of Aboriginal Peoples from the National Capital Region, and the pow wow competition brings in hundreds of dancers and singers in its honour. In addition to these performances, there is a Family Fun Zone, complete with a 400-foot zipline, circus workshops, inflatables, theatre shows for kids, storytelling and more! Everyone can try arts and crafts like Metis beading, and there will also be family-friendly musical performances, as well as an Aboriginal marketplace. Admission and programming is free, and there is a free shuttle service from downtown Ottawa.
When: June 17 to 20
More info: ottawasummersolstice.ca
3. Osgoode Medieval Festival
The village of Osgoode, which is just 30 minutes south of Ottawa, hosts this event that will thrill your knight- and princess-loving kids. On July 8, there is an Education Day for kids ages four to 14, which the festival organizers refer to as a “one-day medieval summer camp.” For a cost of $6 per student and $4 per adult chaperone, participants can spend the day trying out 10 stations that feature activities such as medieval combat, armour, archery and storytelling. Cap off your day with a performance by the Knights of Valour, who are professional knights on horseback. You must pre-register your child for Education Day, and the deadline is June 30. The main festival, on July 9 and 10, has tons of family fun, too, including a children’s area with mini-catapults, a giant chess set and mini-jousting, as well as a castle complete with a costume room, kitchen, throne room and more.
When: July 8 to 10
More info: osgoodemedievalfestival.com
4. Ottawa International Buskerfest
Head on over to Sparks Street with your family, where your kids will be dazzled by jugglers, acrobats and other buskers performing from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day of the festival. When you’re done, take them to the Circus School tent, where they can learn fun street and circus tricks. And things really heat up with a group fire show on Saturday night. There’s no cost to take in all of these acts, but tips are appreciated.
When: July 28 to August 1
More info: ottawabuskerfestival.com
5. Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival
Celebrating its 12th year, this festival in Almonte, Ont., about 40 minutes southwest of downtown Ottawa, is a dream for puppetry fans. This year’s version features professional puppeteers from the US, Canada and India who will be performing at venues along the riverfront. On Saturday and Sunday, there will be a craft tent for kids, and on both days, from 1:45 to 2:15 p.m., there will be a puppet parade featuring street entertainers and musicians alongside puppets both large and small. A day pass is $10 for kids ages three to 12 and $20 for adults (kids under three are free).
When: August 5 to 7
More info: puppetsup.ca
6. Ottawa Redblacks or Ottawa Fury FC game
If you have a sports fan at home, take her to an Ottawa Redblacks football game or an Ottawa Fury FC soccer game at TD Place. Some fun options this summer include the Redblacks’ home opener on July 8, when they play the Calgary Stampeders (game time is at 7 p.m., so it might be late for very young kids), and the Fury FC’s home opener on July 10 at 2 p.m., when they face off against the Rayo OKC. The Fury FC games are particularly kid-friendly, as the game fun is accented by face painting, bouncy castles and a chance for little soccer fans to take a shot at the goal, play on the field after the game and meet the players.
7. Navan Fair
A tradition for many families, this agricultural fair takes place in Navan, Ont., which is just 20 minutes southeast of downtown Ottawa. There’s plenty for animal lovers to see, including horse shows, an educational agricultural barn with a petting zoo and sheep-shearing exhibitions, plus cattle and alpaca shows. But there are people-type thrills, too, thanks to the midway rides. And on August 11 from 4 p.m., it’s Midway Toonie Thursday, when the fun costs just one toonie per ride. The Navan Fair Parade will be held on August 13 at 10:45 a.m. Come and cheer on your favourite floats in this competition or enter your kids, as they could win for best costume, best decorated bike or wagon (open to kids ages three to 12; please arrive by 10 a.m.) or best decorated pet (open to kids ages three to 12). Stunt ventriloquist Tim Holland, known as the Puppet Tamer, will also be part of the parade and perform at the Kids Zone—a space to craft and play—that day, too. The fair will also host Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo and Nature Centre’s Australia: Animals Down Under show, which features creatures such as alligators, scorpions and a red kangaroo!
When: August 11 to 14
More info: navanfair.com
8. TD SouthAsianFest
Get ready to see tons of amazing South Asian dancing and eat delicious food at this annual festival at Ottawa City Hall. It’s a three-day event, but the best day to take your family is on August 13, when MirchMasalaMela, the kid-friendly outdoor event, is on from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be 25 performances throughout the day, midway rides, a kids’ zone, a marketplace and food stalls, and admission is free.
When: August 11 to 13
More info: southasianfest.net
9. Canadian Aviation and Space Museum
This summer, your star-loving kid can become a cadet recruit in Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience, the latest exhibition at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. Your child will get to explore a replica of the USS Enterprise’s bridge and participate in other interactive activities that will demonstrate if she has what it takes to be the next Scotty, Spock or even Riker! She will also be able to learn about new technological advances that relate to the world of science fiction, like a functional tricorder, NASA’s warp drive theory and more. The cost is $12 for kids ages three to 12 and $15 for teens (children ages two and under are free). Once your family has had their fill of the world of Star Trek, your tickets will grant you access to the rest of the museum, so be sure to check out additional programming, including an interactive experience with the Canadarm. Your space fan will have a blast!
When: All summer, through September 5
More info: casmuseum.techno-science.ca
10. Canadian Museum of Nature
Dino fans will love Ultimate Dinosaurs, the latest exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Nature. It features a number of skeletons and fossils from the massive ancient reptiles that ruled the prehistoric supercontinent of Gondwana in the southern hemisphere. The exhibit costs $7, plus museum admission, for a child or student and is free for kids two and under. While you’re at the museum, don’t forget to check out the fossil bones and reconstructed skull of Judith the New Horned Dinosaur, who was co-identified by a paleontologist from the Canadian Museum of Nature!
When: All summer, through September 5
More info: nature.ca
What did we miss? Tell us about the can’t-miss events in your city by emailing us at [email protected]