Northern Lights: a unique show to discover this summer!

Published on July 19 2022

The summer season brings many ways to fill our days. Outdoor festivals, seasonal markets, family-friendly shows, art exhibits—that’s just a taste of what’s in store! One of the things to put on your bucket list this summer is a trip to Ottawa to discover the art, culture and heritage of Canada’s capital.

Dive into Canadian history

Thursday through Monday until September 5, you’re invited to Parliament Hill to see Northern Lights, a 30-minute sound and light show. The schedule varies from month to month; in July, the show starts at 10 p.m. The bilingual narration is set to an original soundtrack.

Northern Lights celebrates milestones in Canadian history and introduces us to the people whose achievements have helped shape our country. From colonization to the present day, through reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, it presents key moments in Canada’s evolution and highlights the technological advances that have contributed to the country’s economic development, the courage and sacrifice of Canadians in wartime, and the rich multiculturalism of the Canadian landscape. A new addition to the show this year is the celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. All in all, you can’t help being moved by how far we’ve come and what Canada has become today.

Five nights a week, the dazzling projections illuminate the front of the Centre Block and the Peace Tower and pique the curiosity of passersby. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and get a front-row seat to a unique and free multimedia experience. It’s a nice way to wind down after a picnic in an Ottawa park or a visit to one of the city’s national museums.

Don’t miss a thing in Canada’s Capital Region

Your one-stop Ottawa shop for information about attractions is the Capital Information Kiosk, located at 90 Wellington Street and open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In person, by email or by telephone, information officers can recommend activities to do nearby. Roving information officers are also stationed at a number of sites around the city, including the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill.

A discovery-filled walk

A walk along Confederation Boulevard, a route rich in heritage and public art, is a must. The streets of downtown Ottawa feature a wide range of attractions: historic sites, green spaces, waterways, ceremonies, parades, and more. Pick up a map while you’re at the Capital Information Kiosk.

On foot or by bike, wander the downtown core to discover commemorative monuments and temporary exhibitions that add an artistic touch to streets, parks and public squares. Keep an eye out for surprises: there are sculptures, murals and paintings on almost every street corner, along with interpretive panels. Just steps away from the ByWard Market are the York Street steps, painted in many colours by Toronto-based artist and illustrator Ashlyn Mundy. Nearby Sparks Street, Major’s Hill Park and the Rideau Canal are also well worth exploring.


Extending your visit to Canada’s Capital Region? Continue your urban art journey along Gatineau’s Culture Trail. This whimsical route links nearly 40 unique installations by Quebec and Canadian artists. It’s worth the detour!

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