The once-stuffy Canadian capital now has a lively nightlife. Options increase in summer, when sidewalk cafes and bistros in the trendy ByWard Market and Elgin Street districts fill up with locals and tourists alike. Outdoor summer concerts take place in Major's Hill Park, Confederation Park and Festival Plaza in front of City Hall. In addition to a variety of live-music venues, street performers often provide free shows for passers-by.
The city's main performing-arts venue is the National Arts Centre on Confederation Square, overlooking the Rideau Canal and near the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel. Local and travelling dance and theatre groups perform at Arts Court, housed in a former courthouse. Ottawa's professional theatre, the Great Canadian Theatre Company, performs almost year-round.
On the edge of Sandy Hill, the Ottawa Little Theatre operates year-round, presenting plays written by local and international playwrights and performed by amateur actors. Kanata Theatre offers excellent amateur productions during the fall, winter and spring. In summer, the Odyssey Theatre company performs commedia dell'arte-style performances in Strathcona Park, overlooking the Rideau River in Sandy Hill.
Ottawa has a lively nightlife that is divided between two locations: Elgin Street, where the popular dance clubs Griffin's, Maxwell's Bistro and The Bulldog Pub. While the Bulldog caters to a mainly 20-something crowd, the clientele at Griffin’s and Maxwell’s is more the over 30 set. For the slighty older crowd there is always Hartwells located in the Westin hotel.
Places to both see and be seen in the Byward Market include the Celtic Pub, the Heart and Crown, which features live music every night and the Empire Grill with its popular martini bar. Blues lovers venturing in the Byward Market can check out the Rainbow Bistro. For the younger generation there is always On Tap on York Street whre they can dance the night away. But by far the best way to experience the "Market" by night is to simply explore and let your ears be your guide.
Visitors will find bars, nightclubs and restaurants throughout the city geared to the gay and lesbian community as well. Among them are the Lookout Bar and Bistro and the Rock Bottom Grill in the Byward Market. The city's Capital Xtra magazine’s the place to start a search for the LGBT scene.
The live music possibilities in this cultural hotspot know no limits. The annual summer concert series on the lawn of the Governor General's residence at Rideau Hall features some of Canada's most talented musicians, while Barrymore's Music Hall, the largest of the city's many live music bars offers weekly live music acts of the rock and roll variety.
Fans of the blues normally head straight the Rainbow Bistro in the Byward Mmarket where live acts are featured every night.
Closing time is 2 am in both Ottawa and the Hull sector of Gatineau (the area closest to downtown Ottawa). Elsewhere in Gatineau – such as the Aylmer sector – closing time is 3 am, as it is in the rest of the province of Quebec.