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Canada Agriculture Museum

Feature: Ghost Town

From the kinda creepy to the downright scary, read on for some of the best ways to spend the spooky season in the capital.

Haunted Walks of Ottawa

WALKING DEAD
Have you heard that the fifth floor of the Fairmont Château Laurier is supposedly haunted by a spooky spectre? Same with the old buildings on Ottawa City Hall grounds. Take a tour of O-Town’s darker side with Haunted Walks of Ottawa, and you’ll see local landmarks in a whole new light. Various tours run year-round, and Halloween season, which offers an array of extended (and even eerier) tours, runs from Oct. 12 to 31. Tickets are available at the kiosk at the corner of Sparks and Elgin Streets, and tours depart from the same spot.

FREAKY FARM
For many, Halloween just isn’t Halloween without a trip to Saunders Farm, which holds its annual Haunting Season from Sept. 29 to Oct. 31 and offers families enough hair-raising entertainment to keep them blissfully spooked for days. Different activities run day and night and range from fun (giant jumping pillows, wagon rides, mazes) to frightening (the Barn of Terror, Stalkers Field, Haunted Hayride).  7893 Bleeks Rd., Munster, 613-838-5440, www.saundersfarm.com

The Ottawa Jail Hostel

JAIL TIME
Ghostly encounters abound at the HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel. The institution served as Carleton County Goal from 1862 to 1972, and soon after was turned into a youth hostel, which it remains today. Guests sleep in renovated prison cells or in the former offices of the prison staff. Many a haunting account has been told by guests of the hostel — over the years, travellers have told stories of ghostly apparitions appearing at the bottom of their beds, mysterious footsteps, and banging in the walls. Named one of the seven spookiest buildings in the world by Lonely Planet, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. (Plus, you can tell your friends you went to Ottawa and spent a night in the slammer.) 75 Nicholas St., 613-235-2595; 866-299-1478, www.hihostels.ca

A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM
On Oct. 20, the Bytown Museum presents Creepy, Crawly Bytown. Families can join the museum for an afternoon of Halloween fun, including a spooky scavenger hunt, creepy crafts and more. 1 Canal Lane, 613-234-4570, www.bytownmuseum.com

At the Canada Agriculture Museum’s Barnyard Halloween on Oct. 27 and 28, kids can scour the barn for goodies on a trick-or-treat scavenger and take part in a costume parade. Prince of Wales Dr., 613-991-3044 , www.agriculture.technomuses.ca

The Billings Estate National Historic Site

The Billings Estate National Historic Site offers a Cemetery Tour on Oct. 20 and 21, a Historic House Séance on Oct. 26 and 27 ($25), and a Ghost Hunt on Oct. 27 and 28 ($20). 2100 Cabot St., 613-247-4830, ottawa.ca

From Oct. 27 to 31, the Canadian Museum of Nature offers a Halloween scavenger hunt, where visitors can find surprises hidden in the exhibits. 240 McLeod St., 613-566-4700, www.nature.ca

Happy haunting!

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for August 10 to 12

Friday, August 10

National Capital Craft Beer Week runs from August 10 to 18.

National Capital Craft Beer Week showcases the best craft-brewed beer in the Ottawa region — and there’s plenty of it. Tons of events are happening throughout the week (including the festival on August 17 and 18), but don’t miss the kickoff party at D’Arcy McGee’s on August 10.

Experience the food, arts and culture of South Asia at the fourth annual South Asian Festival in Confederation Park. Enjoy entertainment including Bollywood dancers, henna artists, and laughter yoga, plus traditional artifacts, silks, and more. Bonus: it’s free!

Sip some fine wine and help a charity at the Watson’s Mill Wine Tasting event. Taste a wide variety of wines from over a dozen Ontario wineries, enjoy hors d’oeuvres from Manotick’s Sucré Salé, and dance to live music from the Swing Bridge Band. 19+ event.

Saturday, August 11

The three-day Ottawa African Festival in Queen Juliana Park gives Ottawa the opportunity to share in the beauty of Caribbean and African cultures. There will be live performances, traditional food, fashion shows, art displays, and even storytelling for the kids. Saturday night will feature the international techno-soukous star, Awilo Longomba. Friday to Sunday.

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Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for August 3 to 6

Friday, August 3

The Rideau Canal

Happy birthday, Rideau Canal! The Ottawa landmark is turning 180 this year (and also celebrating the fifth anniversary of its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the city is celebrating with the Rideau Canal Festival. Join in on the free activities, including live bands, street performers, a parade of lights, fireworks, and the Festival Flotilla, where boats are decorated and paraded down the canal. Friday to Monday.

Centretown Movies hosts the annual outdoor film festival in Dundonald Park. Bring your blankets and anything you need to get comfy outside, and watch a great film on a screen under the stars. Friday is the classic film The Birdcage, featuring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams, and Saturday is Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

Head down to the Sparks Street Mall for the 21st Annual International Busker Festival. The fest features over 40 performances by entertainers from across Canada and all over the world; they will shock and amaze you. Bring a stash of toonies and loonies and give them up for your favourite performers. Thursday to Monday.

Saturday, August 4

Fireworks at the Casino du Lac-Leamy

The Casino du Lac-Leamy’s 17th edition of Sound of Light is an international pyromusical showcasing the talents of some of the best fireworks experts from around the world. Teams from four countries (plus the casino’s grand finale) display their skills, synchronized with an original soundtrack, over five nights of competition. Saturday features a team from France.

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Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for May 18 to 20

Friday, May 18

Dutch DJ Nicky Romero plays Elektrik Tulipe on Friday.

The end of The Canadian Tulip Festival this weekend brings electronic music event Electrik Tulipe. In collaboration with the festival, world famous DJs will set the stage this Friday with performances by Steve Angello of the famed Swedish House Mafia, Dutch DJ/producer Nicky Romero, and Size Records DJ Third Party.

Nightwalking is an exhibit by artist Julie Berthelot that explores Canadian landscapes through large-scale abstract paintings of trees, fields and forests. The exhibit runs through June 3. Artist vernissage will take place this Thursday at Orange Art Gallery.

The 40th annual MusicFest Canada is a five-day event that celebrates over 10,000 young Canadian musicians through performance. Friday’s lineup features the 40th Anniversary Celebration Concert with performances from Canadian artist David Clayton-Thomas from the band Blood, Sweat & Tears, jazz vocalist Ranee Lee, drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez from Santana, and Yamaha pianist Oliver Jones.

Saturday, May 19

The four-day-long Sheep Shearing Festival at the Canada Agriculture Museum teaches children (and adults alike) about the many uses of sheep’s wool. Activities include sheep shearing and herding, sheepdog agility, wool carding, and felt making. Children will also be able to help Little Bo Peep find her sheep. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for March 2 to 4

This photo shows actors from Orpheus Musical Theatre Society rehearsing for "Rent."

Friday, March 2
Orpheus Musical Theatre brings its rendition of the Tony Award-winning Rent to the stage. Based on Puccini’s La Bohème, this rock opera follows a group of young, struggling artists trying to make it in New York City. Gritty and modern, the friends face challenges that range from relationships to money to the health threat of HIV and AIDS. See why the musical lasted 12 years on Broadway when this local theatre group takes on the show. (And don’t be surprised if you start humming songs like “La Vie Bohème B” and “Seasons of Love” and dreaming of running away to the Big Apple.) Opening tonight and running until March 11.

In 1971, Pink Floyd played two shows in Quebec, one in Montreal and one in Quebec city, for the first time ever. Celebrate the 40th anniversary of these legendary concerts with the 2011 travelling show Eclipse – The Pink Floyd Story, on at Casino du Lac-Leamy. This commemorative performance demonstrates the band’s evolution, with a live band performing the best of Pink Floyd from the early days to the later years. Moving lights, spectacular lasers, and video projections make this a complete sensory experience.

Enter the musical universe of Kyssi Wète this Friday at the National Arts Centre. Wète mixes the sounds and rhythms of blues, reggae, rumba, soul, raga, and pop to transport his audiences somewhere between France, Jamaica, and the Congo. Using human diversity and relationships as his inspiration, he relays messages of interracial harmony with his unique voice.

Saturday, March 3
Celebrate International Women’s Week on the opening day of the Celebrate HER Charity Music and Art Festival. The festival celebrates outstanding women in the Ottawa community with a week full of art, music, dance, theatre, and spoken word poetry. Check out this year’s centrepiece: the “Amazing Women-Femmes d’exception” photo installation at Alpha Soul Café, which includes women such as University of Ottawa professor Constance Backhouse and children’s author Naomi Guzman Poole. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for October 7 to 9

Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil. Photo credit: ©2010 Cirque du Soleil inc.

Friday, Oct.7
Two fantastical worlds collide at Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil. On one hand you’ve got the incredible music of a pop legend, and on the other the bizarre, otherworldly acts of modern circus performers. When the two meet, it can only be magic. The show hits Scotiabank Place tonight and runs until Sunday.

Discover your connection to animals through Anna Williams’ sculptural mixed-media installation Dark Timber, on view at Karsh-Masson Gallery from today until Nov. 20. The young Canadian artist is quickly gaining notoriety for her skilled craftsmanship with metals, along with her cultural insights. Williams’ life-like creations make us think about what we’ve lost in our transition from nature to modern culture, and also about what we can learn from these creatures.

Saturday, Oct. 8
Take a drive to the oh-so-charming town of Perth for the annual Perth Autumn Studio Tour, which showcases a selection of contemporary fine arts and crafts. This year’s event features 20 artists in eight rural studios, and part of the fun is checking out the local scenery as you travel from place to place. Beautiful craftsmanship abounds with works that include jewellery, etchings, canoes, pottery, furniture, stone sculpture, wood carvings, and more.

On this weekend that’s all about family, your kids will love the kooky adventures of Toopy and Binoo and the Marshmallow Moon. This live production follows two fun-loving characters with out-of-this-world imaginations and tells their stories through music, theatre, dance, puppetry, and multimedia. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for the Long Weekend (May 20 to 23)

A piece from the exhibition "JAPAN: Tradition. Innovation." Photo credit: Designer- Toshiyuki Kita. Manufacturer- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan 2002. Photo- Luigi Sciuccati.

Friday, May 20
The Canadian Museum of Civilization launches its newest exhibition today, entitled “JAPAN: Tradition. Innovation.” We’ve heard many stories about this country since it was struck by a devastating tsunami and earthquake on March 11; now, learn more about the enterprising spirit that has defined Japan in the past and will continue to define it in the future. The show is comprised of five themes: travel, automation, social status, consumer culture, and entertainment, and provides rare insight into the creative character of Japan by comparing contemporary designs with historical artifacts.

Saturday, May 21
Starting today and running until Monday, visitors can learn about the surprising world of wool at the Canada Agriculture Museum. Watch sheep-shearing demonstrations given by an expert shearer, and learn how many different objects we use in everyday life are made by washing, carding, dying, spinning, and knitting wool. You can also watch border collies take part in agility competitions, try your hand at knitting (with a little help, of course), and kids can make some fun sheep-themed crafts to take home.

Here’s the premise for Ottawa’s third annual Ottawa Rock Lottery (and if you don’t know about this, you should!): There are 25 musicians from different genres and bands. Five bands are determined by randomly pulling names out of a hat. The newly formed groups have 24 hours to create a 20 – 30 minute set of all original music, which will be performed that very night. Some added cool for this year includes a burlesque performance, door prizes, and a free rock’n’roll photo booth. How does it get better? Oh yeah, all proceeds go to a local charity!

Ottawa Fat Cats. Photo credit: Michael Gauthier/Freedom Photography.

The city’s cheekily-named Intercounty Baseball League team, the Ottawa Fat Cats, kicks off the season with their first home game tonight. The team plays Kitchener at home Saturday and Sunday, followed by a double header against both Kitchener and Toronto. It’s a great family outing and tickets are a bargain at $12 for general admission and a variety of student, senior, child, and online discounts. Now that should get you singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in no time! (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for Easter Weekend (April 22 to 24)

Ceramic bunnies from "Gnomeo and Juliet." © Touchstone Pictures

Friday, April 22
Get your matinee fix with a visit to the Mayfair Theatre to see Gnomeo and Juliet. This classic Shakespeare tale is retold in a world of warring garden gnomes who may or may not eventually realize the foolishness of their feud. A Braveheart-esque band of ceramic bunnies defy the passive and peaceful persona of the Easter Bunny — no other ornament can match their battling skills. Playing all weekend.

The Easter Bunny at Valleyview Little Animal Farm has lost hundreds of Easter eggs and needs help to recover all of them during their Easter Weekend event! Gather the whole family for a day of scavenging, puppet shows, train tours, and many up-close encounters with an array of farm animals.

Saturday, April 23
The Annual Easter Market Day is back at North Gower Farmers’ Market with their farm- or home-fresh goodies. From plants and veggies to jewellery and wool products, there’s something for even the pickiest of market shoppers. And with an emphasis on inconspicuous gluten-free food, it’s an inclusive event for the whole family. (more…)