8 Best Places to See Christmas Lights in Ottawa and Get in the Festive Spirit

The streets of Ottawa light up and sparkle over the Christmas season, and no wonder: the city is one of Canada’s prettiest.

There are many neighbourhoods to explore during your Christmas lights Ottawa adventure. But most people don’t know where to find these light displays – or that many of them are free to view.

I may not be big on celebrating Christmas, but I do love some Christmas lights! So I’ve compiled the ultimate guide to Christmas lights in Ottawa for 2021/2022.

Read on and get ready to fill your Instagram feed with cute Christmas light pics!

Ottawa Christmas Lights Map

Magic of lights display of the 5 golden rings in Ottawa

Magic of Lights at Wesley Clover Park

Magic of Lights at Wesley Clover Park is the #1 Christmas light display in Ottawa.

I visited this year, after staying at the RV campsite on my Northern Ontario road trip and was shocked at the difference in the winter. The campground becomes a true Christmas light wonderland.

If you only visit one Christmas light display in Ottawa, make it Magic of Lights!

Magic of Lights is a drive-through experience. You pay per vehicle (pro tip: book your ticket online to save almost 50% of the price!).

Then you drive through the display at your own pace.

It’s very popular, so I recommend getting there when they open or right before closing. My best friend visited post-Christmas and found no lines for multiple years in a row.

You will end up idling on the road for a while (est. 30 mins), so it’s not the “greenest” way to enjoy Christmas lights. Definitely leave those Jeeps at home in favour of your friend’s Prius!

The drive-through offers lots of beautifully decorated trees and even the full 12 days of Christmas!

There are some pretty cool animatronics here that I don’t really want to give away, but let’s just say they’re not kidding around.

While you drive, tune in to their radio station to listen to festive holiday songs without commercials.

As a bonus, by visiting Magic of Lights Ottawa, you’re helping CHEO, the children’s hospital in Ottawa.

Nina’s Rating: 5/5 stars! Such a fun, festive experience. Very COVID-19 safe.

Where: Wesley Clover Parks – 411 Corkstown Road

When: Nov 19th to Jan 8th from 5pm to 10pm nightly

Cost: $25 if you buy online. $35 Monday to Thursday at the gate. $40 Friday to Sunday at the gate

Buy Tickets Here!

Christmas market at Lansdowne in Ottawa with lights from a maypole above a sausage stand
Nina smiling in front of a lit up Christmas tree at the Lansdowne Christmas market in Ottawa
"Noel" light display with Nina sitting in front in a red velvet skirt at the Lansdowne Christmas market in Ottawa

Marche de Noel at Lansdowne’s Ottawa Christmas Market

If you’re more of a Christmas market person, Lansdowne’s Ottawa Christmas Market is the place to go.

It’s like being at a German Christmas market but in Canada – and much smaller, because let’s be honest we’re not as well known for our gluhwein.

The market is open on weekends only, but is free to visit.

You’ll enjoy hot chocolate, gluhwein, traditional German bratwurst, spiral potatoes on a stick, and more sweet treats!

Plus, check out the local artistry and handmade ornaments. The vendors are all local, so you’ll be supporting small Ottawa businesses.

The best part of visiting the Ottawa Christmas Market is the lights. They have such beautiful displays that you won’t want to leave!

You can take photos in front of giant, lit-up candy canes. Or pose beneath the ornament entrance.

Wait your turn to sit on the xmas sign, or even smile beneath the towering outdoor Christmas tree.

The market does get busy, so be prepared to wait for photos and beverages. The live music will help make the lines feel like they’re moving faster.

Don’t forget to bring your skates to enjoy the free ice rink!

Nina’s Rating: 3.5/5 stars. Fun, but pales next to a German Christmas Market, and there are a lot of people.

Where: Marché Way, Ottawa

When: Weekends only. Starting November 26th to December 22nd 2021. Hours are Friday from 5pm to 10pm, Saturday from 10am to 10pm, and Sunday from 10am to 8pm.

Cost: Free!

Parliament light show with foxes projected on the building in Ottawa
Ottawa parliament light show with polar bears projected on the building for Christmas

Parliament Christmas Light Show

If you want to see Ottawa’s best Christmas lights show, look no further than Parliament Hill.

The show runs every night for about 15 minutes and is free to watch!

You can see the show on Parliament Hill from 5:30pm onwards. The show plays on a loop with a short introduction to tell you when the show begins.

If you get there partway through, wait to watch the entire show through so it makes more sense.

With the music backdrop, it feels like watching a Disney short, as you follow animated spirits exploring the Canadian landscapes throughout history.

I visited with my dog who never sits still, but let me watch the whole show through twice without squirming. So maybe it also has magic powers??

The light show is free to see and has plenty of room for people to space out.

It’s projected onto the Parliament buildings, which makes it easy to see, no matter where you’re standing.

Nina’s Rating: 4.5/5 stars. Amazing, but admittedly a bit chilly since you have to stand outside. So bundle up! And you’re never 100% sure when the next reel will begin.

Where: Parliament Hill, 90 Wellington Street

When: December 8th to January 7th from 5:30pm to 11pm

Cost: Free!

Golden retriever puppy sitting inside a 6ft silver ornament Christmas light display in Ottawa

Sparks Street Winter Wanderlust

If you’re not a big Christmas person, but you want to see some lights without a hassle, Sparks Street is the place to go! Every year they have a winter wonderland filled with festive music and photos ops.

It’s the perfect spot for Insta-worthy Christmas photos. I even got Theo to sit for some!

You’ll find Christmas wreaths, life-size photo frames, ornaments you can stand in, and a giant Ottawa sign where you can be the “T”!

It’s the first year for this display. In 2020, they only had a few lights strung up around the Muskoka chairs. But I think the success of Sparks Street’s holiday lights will mean that this is a new Christmas light tradition in Ottawa.

The best part? It’s free to visit!

Nina’s Rating: 4/5 stars. Not too crowded, beautiful displays, but it’s not as festive as some of the immersive experiences.

Where: Sparks Street. Start from Metcalfe and walk towards Lyon Street

When: November 25th to January 8th, all day.

Cost: Free!

Lights hung from trees in downtown Ottawa

Pathway of Lights in Downtown Ottawa

Pathway of Lights is an Ottawa Christmas tradition that brightens the historic Confederation Boulevard through Canada’s capital city.

The recommended route takes you from the National War Memorial to the Rideau Canal Park to Elgin Street, past the Peacekeeping Monument to the Garden of Provinces and Territories to the Supreme Court.

I like this display, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it. To be honest, it’s mostly just some lights in trees. The best part is along Elgin street by the parks where they’re clustered together.

But it’s free and festive, and nearby a lot of nice restaurants, so it’s easy to see on your way to or from the Parliament Hill light show.

Nina’s Rating: 2/5 stars. Nice lights, but they’re very spread out. It doesn’t feel as Christmassy as just wandering the side streets.

Where: Follow this map

When: December 8th to January 7th, every evening

Cost: Free!

Enchanted Ottawa Holiday Drive

This is a truly immersive Christmas lights experience in Ottawa.

Enchanted Ottawa is a drive-through experience in Stittsville that includes 8 live-action scenes, complete with decorations and actors. There’s even a live Santa!

It kind of feels like a Santa Claus parade, except they stay still and you’re the ones who proceed through.

Children can even deliver their letters to Santa in his mailbox!

Like the Magic of Lights show, you’ll get a radio station to listen to that allows you to feel even more like you’re in a Christmas wonderland.

I’ll definitely be booking earlier next year, as all the slots filled up before mid-December!

Nina’s Rating: Unfortunately it booked up for 2021 before I could visit. But based on the description 3.5/5 stars!

Where: Karters’ Korner, 6336 Fallowfield Rd.

When: December 1st to 23rd 2021. Scheduled time slots are available here.

Cost: $35 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. $40 on Friday and Saturday. You have to buy them online.

Get your tickets here!

Taffy Lane

Taffy Lane is a street in Orleans, a suburb of Ottawa. It’s an area where locals have gone all out every year to turn their homes into Christmas light marvels!

The lane has a seriously long history. They began creating larger-than-life displays in 1981!

Every year, they started adding more life-sized displays. From toy soldiers to the Grinch to flying reindeer, the street has it all!

In fact, one house has over 13,000 lights on it alone! Their electric bill is apparently $120 for the lights (being cut to a third after switching to LED lights).

Visit on a weekday when this free show is less crowded.

Nina’s Rating: 4/5 stars for ingenuity and the fact that they do this for free. Also, some of the best house displays ever!

Where: Taffy Lane in Orleans

When: December 1st to December 30th, after 5pm

Cost: Free!

Home Alone House in Stittsville

In Stittsville, a suburb of Ottawa, a family has taken their love for Home Alone to new levels. They’ve turned their house into an exact replica of that from the movie.

The family even spent 5 months finding the right make of van for the robbers to park outside!

They change their house theme yearly. It was National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation in 2020, so I can’t wait to see what they do next year!

Every year the Turcotte family turns their home into a Christmas spectacular. All funds raised that are donated go to CHEO.

This is a really popular stop for people doing Christmas light tours in Ottawa.

Nina’s Rating: 3/5 stars – because it’s only one house. But 5/5 stars for the house!

Where: 18 Cypress Gardens in Stittsville

When: December 1st to 31st

Cost: Free!

Donations can be made here!

Wrap Up: Best Christmas Lights Ottawa

There you have it! My top eight picks for the best Christmas lights in Ottawa.

Whether you’re looking for a winter wonderland, immersive experience, or just some pretty lights to wander by, I hope you find something that puts you in the festive spirit!

Happy holidays!

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Ottawa Travel Planning Guide

🚑 Should I buy Ottawa travel insurance?

100% YES! — There’s a misconception that Canada has “free healthcare” for everyone. Nope! Only Canadians. So you’ll need to get travel insurance to visit Ottawa. I recommend this one.

💧Can you drink the tap water in Ottawa?

Yes – ish — While you can technically drink the tap water in Ottawa, as a local I don’t recommend it. Old hotels especially can have some nasty things in their pipes. Instead, get a filtered water bottle. (Read more)

🚙💨 Do I need to rent a car in Ottawa?

Yes — Renting a car in Ottawa is one of the best ways to get around! You’ll be able to see more of the city and beyond, like the epic hiking trails. I recommend Discover Cars for the cheapest rates possible.

📲 Do I need to know French in Ottawa?

Nope! — The primary language of Ottawa is English. While French is also spoken and on some signs, you can easily get by without knowing any French. (Read more)

🏩 What’s the best way to book my Ottawa accommodations?

For Ottawa hotels, Booking is the best site. If you’re considering an Ottawa Airbnb, don’t forget to also check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb. My #1 hotel recommendation in Ottawa is the Fairmont Chateau Laurier.

✈️ What’s the best site to buy Ottawa flights?

For finding cheap Ottawa flights, I recommend Skyscanner. You can even set a price alert to find out when flights are on sale.

🎫 Do I need a Visa for Ottawa?

Likely Not — U.S. and most European Passport holders don’t need a Visa to visit Canada.

📍 Where is Ottawa? And what’s nearby?

Ottawa is the capital city of Canada, located in Ontario. It’s right on the border of Quebec. It’s about 2 hours from Mont Tremblant, 3 hours from Montreal, or 5 hours from Toronto. You can take a road trip to get to other places or fly.

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