Ottawa is busy with events and things to do during winter, making it an ideal destination for travellers.
One of the most popular events is the Ottawa Christmas Market, also one of Canada’s biggest holiday markets.
I’ll provide details to help plan your visit in this guide, including confirmed 2023 dates, opening times, locations and what to expect when you’re there.
Ottawa Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in Ottawa (the Marché de Noël) is styled after traditional European markets. It’s located in the lively Glebe neighbourhood.
On Fridays to Sundays in the lead up to Christmas, you can explore more than 45 Christmas cabins selling local goods, enjoy live performances, and indulge in seasonal food and drinks.
The market has special hours from Wednesday to Saturday in the final week before Christmas.
This family-friendly event is free, making it an accessible celebration.
Dates and Location
Ottawa Christmas Market dates: 24th November to 23rd December 2023.
Location: Aberdeen Square.
Friday: 5pm to 10pm.
Saturday: 10am to 10pm.
Sunday: 10am to 8pm.
Wednesday 20th December: 5pm to 10pm.
Thursday 21st December: 5pm to 10pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Christmas lights: No switch on date.
Santa: Yes, with crafts for kids.
Ice skating: Yes, at Lansdowne.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended during busy periods.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: European-inspired market, one of the biggest in Canada.
Recommended tour: ByWard Market food tour.
Food specialities: Beavertails, tourtière, maple treats, butter tarts, spruce beer, Nanaimo bars.
Where to stay: The Metcalfe is a highly-rated hotel in Downtown Ottawa.
Hotels near Ottawa Christmas Market
Although the Christmas market is located in the Glebe neighbourhood, I recommend staying in the downtown area for convenience or in the bustling ByWard Market neighbourhood.
Specifically, I suggest staying at The Metcalfe Hotel, one of the most popular hotels in Downtown Ottawa.
Location of Ottawa Christmas Market
Recommended Walking Tours
A city tour of Ottawa is an excellent way to familiarise yourself with the city’s interesting history and diverse culture.
You could take a regular city tour, but I think this ByWard Market food tour is a better option.
With this food tour, you can see some of the city’s highlights while gaining insight into the local culture via its cuisine.
I recommend checking out my guide to the Christmas markets in Canada, which includes all the best places to visit in 2023.
Christmas in Ottawa
Beavertails: These are whole-wheat pastries stretched to resemble a beaver’s tail, fried and then topped with sweet additions. Originating in Ottawa, they’re a treat you should definitely sample. They can be sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, spread with chocolate, or loaded with other toppings.
Tourtière: A classic French-Canadian pie filled with finely diced pork, beef, and spices. It has roots in Québec but has become a favourite across Canada, especially during Christmas.
Maple Taffy: Made by boiling maple sap beyond the point of syrup and then pouring it on clean snow. Once it’s cooled, it turns into a taffy-like consistency. You can see vendors preparing this sweet right at the market.
Pouding chômeur: Often called “unemployment pudding” in English, it’s a dessert that originates from Québec. Made from basic ingredients like cake batter, hot syrup, or caramel, it became popular during the Great Depression due to its inexpensive components.
Butter tarts: Small, round pastries filled with a mix of butter, sugar, syrup, and egg. Often, they also contain raisins or nuts. An iconic Canadian treat, they’re often associated with the festive period.
Spruce beer: A unique drink that might surprise you. It’s a soft drink (though sometimes alcoholic) made from spruce trees’ buds, needles, or essence. Historically, sailors consumed it to prevent scurvy due to its vitamin C content.
Nanaimo Bars: A no-bake dessert bar originating from Nanaimo, British Columbia. It consists of three layers: a crumb base, custard-flavoured butter icing in the middle, and a layer of chocolate. While it’s popular throughout Canada, finding it at the Ottawa market gives it a special seasonal twist.
Pea soup: Historically tied to the voyageurs – French-Canadian fur traders – this hearty soup made of split peas and ham is warming and filling. It’s a comforting dish to enjoy on a cold day at the market.
Cider: While cider is common in many parts of the world, Canadian ciders often incorporate local apple varieties and sometimes even berries. Warm or cold, it’s refreshing to enjoy while browsing the stalls.
I hope this list helps you explore the culinary landscape of Ottawa’s Christmas Market. Happy tasting!
Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Maple Syrup: An emblematic product of Canada, maple syrup from the Ottawa region is renowned for its pure and rich flavour. It’s tapped from sugar maple trees during the early spring, but its sweet taste is cherished year-round. Bottles of this syrup or related products like maple candies make thoughtful gifts.
Inuit Carvings: Crafted by the indigenous Inuit people of Canada, these carvings, often made of soapstone, depict animals, people, and scenes from daily life. Each piece tells a story and embodies the history and culture of the Inuit community.
Canadian Whisky: The Ottawa region is known for producing some fine Canadian whiskies. Typically made from rye, barley, corn, or wheat, these spirits have unique profiles, and a bottle could be the perfect gift for a connoisseur.
Moccasins: Handmade by indigenous artisans, these comfortable shoes are soft leather and often adorned with intricate beadwork. They represent the heritage of Canada’s First Nations and are both functional and stylish.
Hudson’s Bay Blanket: These iconic wool blankets feature multicoloured stripes and nod to Canada’s fur trading history. Originating from the Hudson’s Bay Company, the oldest company in North America, these blankets are synonymous with Canadian heritage.
Knitwear: Given the cold Canadian winters, knitwear is a popular choice. From hand-knitted scarves to warm woollen hats, these items are practical yet stylish, reflecting Ottawa’s chilly climate and the creativity of its people.
Wild Blueberry Products: The regions surrounding Ottawa are known for wild blueberries. Whether it’s jams, jellies, or dried blueberries, these products encapsulate the taste of Canadian summers and make unique stocking fillers.
Craft Beer: Ottawa has a budding craft beer scene, with local breweries often setting up stalls at the Christmas market. Unique brews, sometimes with seasonal flavours, can be an excellent pick for those who enjoy a pint.
Handcrafted Soaps: With a focus on natural ingredients, some local vendors sell handcrafted soaps. These soaps are infused with scents like pine, cedar, or lavender, and they are a gentle nod to the Canadian wilderness and its abundant flora.
Wooden Crafts: Canada’s vast forests inspire many artisans. These crafts highlight the region’s natural beauty, from detailed wooden ornaments depicting Canadian wildlife to intricately carved utensils.
For a comprehensive list of winter activities and up-to-date events in the city, I recommend checking out Ottawa Tourism, the city’s official website.
Sustainable Travel Tips
Here’s how we can adopt a more responsible approach when travelling to Ottawa during winter:
Eco-friendly accommodation: Ottawa is home to numerous hotels making sustainable strides. I suggest you choose places that employ renewable energy sources and sustainable practices, ensuring a reduced carbon footprint during your stay.
Mindful eating at the markets: Ottawa’s markets are a gastronomic treat. While indulging, be conscious of your portions to avoid food wastage. Many stalls in Ottawa incorporate locally sourced ingredients, so choosing these options supports local farmers and reduces transportation emissions.
Ethical shopping: The Christmas stalls present many local crafts and goods. Purchase mindfully, prioritising items you genuinely need or will use. Supporting local artisans boosts the local economy and often means a lower carbon footprint as products haven’t travelled great distances.
Sustainable diets: While in Ottawa, explore the local vegan and vegetarian foods. A plant-based diet has a significantly lower environmental impact than meat-based options. Ottawa has many cafes and restaurants that provide sustainable diet options, making it easier to make eco-conscious choices.
Green transport: Ottawa has an efficient public transportation system, a greener alternative to renting a car or hailing taxis. Consider using the OC Transpo buses or cycling along the city’s well-maintained bike lanes. Walking is a great way to see the city and reduce your environmental impact if the weather permits.
Comment below if you want to leave a review of Ottawa Xmas Market.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Ottawa, Canada. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.