Christmas Lights in the National Capital Region – By Bike!

They turned on the annual Christmas lights display along Confederation Boulevard last night, so I checked them out! They will be on every night until January 7th.

Orange line is how I biked to Parliament Hill for the launch. Blue is the route I followed to see most of the official sites.

The flipping of the switch was launched with an explosion of mini fireworks.

BOOM!
BOOM!
... as the smoke settles.
… as the smoke settles.

Now the route I’m proposing is full of splendid night time sceneries, with or without Christmas lights. The view from behind the Centre Block across the Ottawa River to Gatineau is one such example. Looking out across the river also gave me my first indication that they’ve considerably scaled back on the number of Christmas lights from previous years.

View across the Ottawa River to Gatineau
View across the Ottawa River to Gatineau

Major renovations are happening on the West Block. Whole sections are wrapped in scaffolding and tarp, creating these internally lit glowing cube structures.

West Block
West Block

One used to be able to bike in front of the West Block, avoiding having to ride along Wellington, which is not a very bike friendly section of road. Hopefully once the the West Block renovations are completed they will lighten up with the crazy security and once again allow folks to access the hill from the west gate. Otherwise, the first opportunity to get off Wellington is opposite Bank Street, just beyond the closed off gates and line up of parked police cars. First left and a bit further along brings you alongside the wonderfully lit Supreme Court of Canada.

Supreme Court
Supreme Court

Continuing straight ahead leads to these stairs down behind the Library and Archives building.

Behind the National Library and Archives
Behind the National Library

Riding around behind the archives building brings you to Wellington right where the designated bike lane begins. Now that’s the way to go!

On the other side of Portage Bridge dip down the bike path to the right where there are some great unimpeded views of the Hill.

View of Hill from Gatineau
View of Hill from Gatineau

It’s pretty thrilling where the path crosses under the Alexandria Bridge. The whirring sound of the cars on the metal mesh road way above resonates all around you, while the beams from the headlights flash and flicker down through the steel girders.

Under Alexandria Bridge
Under Alexandria Bridge

Out in Jacques Cartier Park there are a few arrangements of lights, including this droopy bunch of red ones hanging way up in a couple of trees.

JCP
JCP

After crossing back over the Alexandria Bridge I turned up behind the National Gallery to re-visit this piece of outdoor sculpture, made up of a number of streetlights blown over by hurricane Katrina. Love it!

Majestic at night
Majestic at night

In previous years the trees of Majors Hill Park were filled with lights, but this year, nil. S’okay, still a nice ride along the edge of the cliff. Very pleased to discover the terrace above the canal was still accessible from the park to Wellington, affording this dramatic night time view of the Chateau Laurier. The terrace has been previously closed for the winter.

Look up, look way up...
Look up, look way up…

The Cenotaph has lots of cool lights all around it.

Lights at the Cenotaph
Lights at the Cenotaph

Opposite the Cenotaph there is this arrangement of warm lights set against the Conference Centre.

Conference Centrte
Conference Centrte

The city has added Christmas lights to compliment the exuberantly lit walls of their outdoor rink in front of City Hall.

Rink of Dreams
Rink of Dreams

I end the tour with this photo from Confederation Park looking towards the Lord Elgin Hotel.

Lights in Confederation Park
Lights in Confederation Park

The only official Christmas Lights site I didn’t get to was the one out near the Governor Generals Residence. I will have to figure out a safe night time route that avoids the dangerous stretch of Sussex between the National Gallery and the External Affairs building.

Author: ottawavelo

bicycler

4 thoughts on “Christmas Lights in the National Capital Region – By Bike!”

  1. Enjoy your cycling as much as you can before the snow flies in Ottawa. I plan to head out for a spin tomorrow in Calgary. Merry Christmas!

  2. Thanks. I can’t wait for the snow to fall and stay. I’m good to go with my designated winter bike with studded front tire. Looking forward to some wintry biking adventures! Happy trails in Calgary.

  3. Nice shots. I went to the lighting ceremony, damn I was freezing.

    I love the rink of dreams, it’s gorgeous at night. Everywhere you look there are buildings all lit up, love skating there.

  4. Thanks for liking the photos. I’m just trying to figure out how best to take shots at night, which I’ll have to do a lot more now that it’s getting dark so early. All my daytime images are taken with my iPhone, but this time I tried my Canon 5x along with my iPhone. Still trying to figure out what’s best.

    It was indeed cold at the launch on the Hill. Fortunately I had on my new balaclava purchased at Pecco’s in the market a few hours earlier. Freaky how much it warmed up over the course of my ride, and it wasn’t because of the exercise I was getting.

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