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Photo: Hannah Manning.

Weekend Roundup 2-for-1: Xmas and NYE

By Amanda Armstrong and Kiersten Vuorimaki on December 24, 2020

Well friends, we did it! We successfully reached the end of 2020, and found ourselves back in a mandated lockdown. With the announcement this week about a 28-day lockdown beginning on Boxing Day, it might seem like we’ve made no progress, but we are all learning as we go and Ottawa has lots to be proud of in terms of flattening our curve.

This season we may not be driving all over town to see friends and family, or crowding into bars for the last blurry moments of the year, but we have made it to the end and there is still reason to celebrate! With so many events being cancelled at the last minute, and the sudden uncertainty of the season, we decided to focus on suggestions to make your holiday break fun, relaxing, and safe, either with your bubble or in isolation.

Happy Holidays / Merry Christmas / Happy New Year / Happy Festivus from all of us at Apt613!

Thank you for another awesome (unprecedented) year. This community could not be any more awesome. 2020 was one to remember, so let’s recharge and be ready for all the surprises of 2021!

Photo: Hannah Manning

All dressed up with nowhere to go? That’s pretty much been all of 2020.  Answer the cries of those party dresses and snazzy button-ups that have spent months hanging in your closet and get dressed up to stay home this holiday weekend. Try your hand at that elaborate new recipe and have a stellar date night dinner at home. If you’re not one for cooking, order in from your favourite local spot. Apt613 has created a handy list of places to choose from, if you are struggling for ideas that tantalize your tastebuds.

Nothing pairs better with a fancy dinner than some tasty libations. If beer is your brew of choice, there are plenty of fabulous local breweries that you can support (Dominion City Brewing Co., Beyond the Pale, Big Rig, and Beau’s are all great choices); make your own cocktails or mocktails with some of Ottawa’s own tonics, bitters, and syrups (Top Shelf, Split Tree, or City Seltzer make tasty additions to any drink) or order some drinks made by your favourite bartenders to enjoy from the comfort of your home.

While we can’t get together with those we love this holiday season, that doesn’t stop us from spreading a little holiday cheer. Get yourself some cards from your favourite local shop or maker (a bunch of whom can be found in this #Support613 Gift Guide) and make the rounds and show a little love to those you care about, from a distance.

Nothing illuminates this dark time of year quite like the warmth of Christmas lights. Take a stroll through the downtown core this weekend and witness the beauty of thousands of Christmas lights throughout Confederation Park, down Elgin to Wellington, and over to Parliament Hill. You can also take a drive out to the magical place that is Taffy Lane in Orleans and see holiday decorations turned up to eleven.

One of the festive houses on Taffy Lane. Photo: Hannah Manning

While we don’t have enough snow (yet) to get out cross-country skiing, there has been plenty of cold and we can head out to many local rinks, strap on our skates and go for a spin around the ice. There is the Sens Rink of Dreams at City Hall and Lansdowne Park Skating Court , while we await the Canal’s eventual big reveal when the time is right. If you’d rather stay off the ice, the NCC trails are a great place to get out and enjoy winter’s beauty. For those looking to make some feathered friends along the way, bring along some birdseed (or, better yet, peanuts) and you will have birds landing in your hand like a Disney princess in no time. Unlike the first lockdown, there are no current plans to close parks, although the interprovincial bridges may close in the future, so plan your trips accordingly!

Lean into the coziness of the season and find a way to have fun with friends that you would normally see during this holiday downtime. Online gaming and video chatting has become so much easier and fun during the last nine months, so look into an app like Houseparty, or  Board Game Arena and Pogo for board games that will keep you all entertained and connected. Escape rooms are still all the rage, so Escape From Quarantine has launched Through the Wormhole, a new virtual escape room fundraiser in support of CHEO Foundation and Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations. Get a group together virtually for an evening of fundraising silliness!

If you missed the live music of the holiday season this year, you are not alone. Lucky for us, Ottawa’s own chamber orchestra Thirteen Strings has released two concerts that they recorded just for us. These are available separately as well for anyone who would like to sing along or play along with the orchestra – words and music are provided. The concert can be viewed by visiting the Thirteen Strings website and will be available for viewing well into the New Year.

Is one of your New Years resolutions to spend less time in front of a screen? Maybe it should be? The Ottawa Public Library is going to stay open through the current closures, so check out the catalogue online and get your nose in a book! They have eliminated late fees, and picking up your books curbside is super convenient. If you’d rather grow your own book collection, curbside pickup is available at almost all of our favourite local stores! Skip the tedious online shopping and give your favourite book seller a call, or slide into their DMs to ask about titles in stock. Black Squirrel books is casually floating out the suggestion that they will do their “surprise” box of books again, which was super-duper fun last time! Start a book club with your friends and family, or join in the NAC Indigenous Theatre Book Club that will take place on January 27th!

Whatever you do over the holidays, 613ers, please stay safe and stay positive! Tag us in your fun at-home shenanigans and your lovely festive walks. The Weekend Roundup Crew will be here and ready to plan your weekends in 2021. #APT613