In honour of Canada 150, the 2017 Grey Cup is being hosted in Ottawa this year. But the fun truly begins five days before the Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts face off at the championship game, with the Grey Cup Festival at Landsdowne Park (Festival HQ) from November 21 to 26. This year’s festival includes more than 30 free and ticketed events that reflect Canada’s diverse traditions. Here’s how to make the most of your visit to our nation’s capital before and after kickoff.
Welcome the Cup to town
Ottawa is home to the defending Grey Cup champions, the Redblacks, and you can bet their fans will be at Lansdowne Park on November 21 to witness the arrival of the trophy. The Cup itself has a rich history: it’s been stolen twice, nearly destroyed by a fire, and almost forgotten by celebrating teams on several occasions. After watching the arrival, head to nearby Craft Beer Market for a seemingly endless selection of ales and lagers.
Go to Riderville and attend a Down East Kitchen Party
Put on your best greens—and don’t forget your watermelon cap—before making your way to Riderville. It doesn’t matter that the Saskatchewan Roughriders didn’t make it to the Grey Cup, as Rider Nation’s pride is always on display here. After, head to the Delta Hotels Ottawa City Centre for a rendezvous with the CFL’s unofficial 10th team, the Atlantic Schooners, at the 10th annual Down East Kitchen Party ($10 cover charge). Grab a lobster roll before taking part in a traditional Screeching-In ceremony. Both events run from November 24 to 25.
Hear Canadian music at TD Place
From November 23 to 25, The Arena at TD Place will come alive during an all-Canadian concert series. Catch Juno Award-winning Canadian country artist Jess Moskaluke on Thursday night and rock legends Trooper on Saturday night, and be sure not to miss Friday night’s event featuring Halifax rockers Sloan and acclaimed cover band Dwayne Gretzky. Tickets are general admission only and cost $45 for one night, or $105 for all three.
Take in the big game
If you managed to snag yourself tickets to Sunday’s game, start the day at the official Grey Cup tailgate party. Your game-day ticket gets you free admission, and you’ll be treated to beer, food and live music. If you didn’t get a ticket in time, don’t worry. Instead, watch the game with fellow football-crazy Canucks at The Senate Sports Tavern, one of Ottawa’s oldest sports bars, or at Hometown Sports Grill located just across the Rideau Canal from Festival HQ.
Experience Ottawa’s attractions
Take a break from the football festivities by checking out one of Ottawa’s many museums and galleries. The newly renovated Canada Science and Technology Museum opens on Nov. 17 and will feature 11 exhibitions including “Artifact Alley,” which will offer an augmented reality experience. More of a foodie? Head to ever-popular ByWard Market for a plethora of dining options that include bake shops, grab-and-go stands, and fine dining restaurants.