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Canadian Museum of Nature

Ottawa’s Hottest New Event: Nature Nocturne at the Canadian Museum of Nature

BY KIMBERLEY JOHNSON

Dance the night away at the Canadian Museum of Nature on Feb. 22 during the second Nature Nocturne event. (Photo: Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature)

Dinosaur bones, volcanoes and… dancing?

Yes, Nature Nocturne at the Canadian Museum of Nature is back for its second edition, this Friday, Feb. 22nd.

The sophomore event looks to build upon the momentum of last month’s successful debut. Dance within the gorgeous castle walls of the Canadian Museum of Nature, and take your pick from all types of entertainment throughout each of the exhibits: DJ iLon playing in the rotunda; Djs Ali Azimian and Ron Lavoie spinning house music on the fourth floor; the classical guitar musings of Chris Milne in the Mammal Gallery; and a VIP area with a bar in the Animalium — just text Nature2 to 21321 to gain access!

And if you like to get hands on, moonwalk your way over to the third floor where you can manipulate slides and music within the museum.

But act fast! Nature Nocturne comes only once a month, and January’s event sold out! You can grab tickets HERE. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the party goes until midnight. And once inside the Canadian Museum of Nature, you can buy food and drinks — expect to pay about $7 for a glass of wine.

New Vale Earth Gallery opens at Museum of Nature

The Canadian Museum of Nature‘s newly renovated Vale Earth Gallery boasts 8,000 square feet of geological wonders. Long known for its world-class collection of rocks and minerals, the museum also offers several interactive games and simulations. Guests are invited to explore a limestone cave — complete with stalactites, stalagmites, and trickling water — and to look inside a smartphone to see what minerals are used in its manufacturing process. Round out your visit by building a volcano, creating an earthquake, and cooling magma to make granite.

Admission $12; Seniors and Students (13+): $10; Children: $8; Tiny Tots (under 2): Free.

The Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod St., www.nature.ca

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!

Hot Attraction: Delving into Natural Disasters at the Museum of Nature

“Nature Unleashed” at the Canadian Museum of Nature gives visitors an inside look at natural disasters.

The Canadian Museum of Nature presents “Nature Unleashed: Inside Natural Disasters,” a vivid and dynamic exhibit that brings the reality of natural disasters to life. The exhibit explores the science behind tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and volcanoes, and shines a light on the impact they have on human lives and the resilient and powerful stories of those who survived them. The displays are highly immersive and interactive: visitors can create a virtual volcano, trigger an earthquake, stand inside a roaring tornado, and see real geological specimens and remains of past disasters. On now until May 5.

Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod St., 613-566-4700, www.nature.ca

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for April 20 to 22

Friday, April 20
The Ottawa Shakespeare Company stages the most famous assassination story of all time. Julius Caesar, a classic Shakespearean tragedy, tells a story of betrayal and the death of the world’s leader. Experienced actors bring Shakespeare’s timeless story to life at the Centrepointe Theatre.

[boxhead]Evolution Theatre is offering two plays for a single ticket! [boxhead] is about a young geneticist who one day discovers a cardboard box stuck on his head and undergoes many revelations in his quest to remove it. Mary Magdalene and Adventures in Sobriety tells the story of a woman who has spent 2000 years homeless, and discovers spirituality and passion after literally crashing into an AA meeting.

Bring your kids to celebrate Earth Day at the Canadian Children’s Museum. Kids can get their hands dirty with clay, build the city of the future with MEGABloks®, and learn how to make music using everyday items. Activities are available for ages five and under. (more…)

Hot Attraction: Whales Take Over the Canadian Museum of Nature

These mounted sperm-whale skeletons are one of the breathtaking features of the new exhibit. Photo credit: © Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2008.

Dive into the ocean with “Whales Tohorā,” a blockbuster exhibit on view at the Canadian Museum of Nature starting March 2. The spotlight is on whales in the South Pacific — the diversity, biology, and adaptation of these mammals; the impact humans have on them; and the special relationship between whales and the Māori people of New Zealand, who view these creatures as both friends and food. Discover how science and culture overlap, and prepare to be wowed by the sheer size of two mounted sperm-whale skeletons that are a central to this fascinating exhibition.

Exhibition Roundup: What’s On at the Museums

Still got out-of-towners visiting? Check out our rundown on some of the coolest and most fascinating temporary and long-term exhibits in Ottawa.

"Awesome Arctic" is now on view at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Photo credit: © Doug Barber (Yorkton, SK).

The Canadian Museum of Nature has recently unveiled a new exhibit, Awesome Arctic, which features a collection of more than 50 photographs taken over several decades during the museum’s Arctic research adventures. The exhibit, which runs until next fall, displays fascinating visuals of Canada’s North, as well as researchers documenting marine life, plants, fossils, and minerals.

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum brings you its most recent permanent exhibition Living in Space, which is all about adapting to daily life in zero gravity. Learn about what astronauts do in space, whether it’s work or play, eating or sleeping, or keeping up their personal hygiene. This highly interactive exhibit presents the technical, psychological, and physical challenges of living in space. You can also check out Green Skies Ahead, on view until June 2017. This exhibit takes you on a tour to discover the carbon-friendly technology of tomorrow. With so much focus on the environment, this is your chance to learn about energy production and consumption in today’s world, as well as get a taste of what the future holds through displays of energy-efficient aircraft designs.

The Canada Science and Technology Museum presents Energy: Power to Choose, an interactive display all about energy production and consumption, running until June 2017. Learn all about the social, economic, and environmental consequences of exploiting resources and get inspired to make a change. This exhibit even lets you produce your own electricity with a human hamster wheel. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out SiO2: The Science of Glass, on view until April 9, where you can see the true and brute strength of glass. Find out all about the chemical properties of glass and the role of glass in the history of civilization. Last but certainly not least, until January 20, you can snag your last chance to check out Braille: Knowledge at your Fingertips, which explores the language of touch for those who have lost their sight. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for November 11 to 13

Friday, Nov. 11
Pay your respects to Canadian veterans of the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and recent wars in Afghanistan and beyond at the annual Remembrance Day Ceremonies at the National War Memorial. The commemoration begins at 11am, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — of this 11th year of the 21st century — reminding us about the people and sacrifices that have contributed to this country’s history.

The new exhibition at Le Centre d’exposition Art-image in Gatineau will have you thinking about your clothes in a whole new way. The show “Emergence! My clothing, my shelter…” features five up-and-coming artists from Ottawa and Gatineau, each reflecting on the roles of clothing and shelter in a personal way. The show opens Friday night, featuring a free musical performance, and runs until Dec. 18.

260 Fingers. Photo credit: Diane Black.

Saturday, Nov. 12
Head to the Glebe Community Centre this weekend to view some beautiful ceramics at the 260 Fingers Pottery Show. This free exhibition, featuring the varied work of 25 ceramic artists, is sure to impress. Whether you want to make a purchase or just want to admire, you can chat with the talented artists who have come from all over Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. Show runs Friday to Sunday.

If you like wine and food — and really, who doesn’t — make your way to the Ottawa Convention Centre for the annual Ottawa Wine & Food Festival. With a day pass, you can hit up the tasting floor and sample wines, beers, spirits, and food from all over the world. Then, you can head to the show floor for the “Festival Kitchen” series to watch some free “how-to” seminars and learn how to become a top chef yourself! There are also many more demonstrations and lessons if you’re willing to shell out a bit extra. Festival runs from Wednesday to Sunday (tasting floor Friday to Sunday only). (more…)

Canada’s Best New Attractions for Summer 2011

Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta

For travellers planning their summer trips in Canada this year, the regional editors of Where magazine have released their top picks for summer travel. The winners of Where Canada’s Best New Attractions for Summer 2011 represent the most exciting attractions – new, significantly improved, or celebrating major milestones this year. A diverse group of attractions from coast to coast, this year’s winners offer a wide range of activities and events suitable for any family, art lover, sports fanatic, nature lover or adventurer. Together, these attractions serve as the top must-see and must-dos for anyone travelling in Canada this summer. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for Aug. 26 to 28

"The Fourposter" at the Classic Theatre Festival.

Friday, Aug. 26
The Classic Theatre Festival in Perth wraps up its summer-long season this weekend with The Fourposter, a comedy about marriage by Jan de Hartog. This Tony Award-winning play follows the joys and challenges of a 35 year marriage, all the way from the nerve-wracking wedding night, to parenting (and the inevitable midlife crisis), to the realities of aging. Shows take place Friday and Saturday evening and Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

You don’t need to strap on your Birkenstocks to enjoy the Ottawa Folk Festival. This community celebration brings together a sweet mix of music, dance, and visual arts for a four-day family-friendly event. An eclectic mix of musical performances is on offer, including shows by Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, City and Colour, Serena Ryder, Hawksley Workman, The Nightwatchman (alter ego of Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine), and a variety of other acts. Bring along your own instrument and join in on organized jam sessions that range from Celtic music to African drumming. Runs Aug. 25 to 28.

This is the last day to watch the Changing the Guard ceremony, an iconic Canadian sight. Held each morning at 10am on Parliament Hill from late June to late August, this ceremony is a colourful spectacle of pomp, pageantry, and music, complete with military drills. A regimental band and pipers also perform.

Saturday, Aug. 27
The Canadian Museum of Nature throws open its doors to people and animals alike this weekend. Come meet some four-legged critters from the the Muskoka Wildlife Centre. Learn about the “extreme” features of some well-known creatures, and at the end of the 30-minute show you might even get a chance to pet one or two. Afterward, go explore the museum’s newest exhibit “Extreme Mammals,” with new-found insight about our furry friends. Takes place Saturday and Sunday. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for June 17 to 19

The Time Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival.

Friday, June 17
Cheer on 5,000 paddlers from more than 190 teams at the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival, the largest of its kind in North America. This free, three-day party boasts non-stop racing, kid-friendly activities, and live music (performances include Steven Page from the Barenaked Ladies and Ash Koley). Watch in awe as teams of 20 (plus a drummer and a steersperson) propel these massive boats forward with lightning-fast times. The festival runs until Sunday.

Centre d’exposition L’Imagier debuts its latest exhibition today, called “Hommes en voie de distinction.” This group show invited eight artists to take a personal and current look at the notion of “gallantry,” and showcases eight very diverse perceptions of this word. The exhibit takes a fresh look at what gallantry could be in a present-day context, and is presented in a variety of mediums that include installation, painting, photography, audio art, and video.

In honour of National Aboriginal Day, the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival offers a chance to experience and celebrate diverse Aboriginal cultures. The usual festival activities are on the bill (pony rides, a petting zoo, bouncy castles), but you can also explore an artisan village, which features interactive arts workshops, demonstrations, vendors, and traditional food. There will also be live performances taking place throughout the weekend, with an international competition powwow, a headline show by Shane Yellowbird, an “Aboriginal Canada We’ve Got Talent!” competition with more than $15,000 in prize money, and a cultural showcase featuring traditional and contemporary Aboriginal arts. It starts today and runs until Sunday, rain or shine. Note: the festival is free but donations are gratefully accepted.

Lindi Ortega

Saturday, June 18
Singer/songwriter Lindi Ortega from Toronto brings her upbeat, folk-infused brand of country to Cafe Dekcuf after the recent release of her latest album, Little Red Boots. A unique genre she refers to as “a roadside motel love affair between old school outlaws and country darlings,” her tunes will have you swaying in your seat and tapping your (cowboy boot-clad) toes. Interesting fact: she’s opened for UK band Keane and Kevin Costner’s band The Modern West. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for May 27 to 29

"Carmen," a story of love, jealousy, and murder.

Friday, May 27
Enjoy a night at the opera with this presentation of Carmen by Pellegrini Opera. A staged and costumed production sung in French, the famed story by Georges Bizet follows the seductive gypsy Carmen and soldier Don José, blending romance, intrigue, jealousy, and murder. Also playing Saturday night.

Be transported back in time with the “Chautauqua” at Billings Estate, put on by the Ottawa Storytellers. These types of events were popular from the 1880s to the 1930s and combined education and entertainment with oratory, drama, and music. A travelling troupe even visited this historic site in 1902 and set up its tent on the grounds. Now you can experience this modern-day Chautauqua, which offers up world-renowned speakers such as the African explorer Nehemiah “Crikey” Persimmon, the famous games mistress Eliza Ross, and the British musical hall sensation Rodney Ramsbottom, all accompanied by a brass band.

Saturday, May 28
Don’t let the construction deter you from the Great Glebe Garage Sale this is still a fun street party and a great place to score some sweet swag. Thousands of people fill the streets while neighbours and businesses set up tables filled with electronics, clothing, food, jewellery, artwork, furniture, sports equipment, and every other knick knack you can imagine.

The season of pretty summer dresses is at hand, so why not try yours at dress making? Flock Boutique is offering a day-long Beginner Dress Making Class today. For $100, you will learn how to create your own easy-breezy summer frock that works as a cover-up at the beach or for strutting your stuff around town. (Some experience with a sewing machine recommended). (more…)