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Event centres in Ottawa seeing more and bigger Christmas parties this year

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'Tis the season for office Christmas parties and holiday banquet events. Event spaces throughout the city are busy hosting more and larger events this year.

Picking up party supplies, John Labrie is preparing to host his office Christmas party. "Yeah, recently purchased the business; there's ten of us all getting together to have fun and celebrate Christmas."

At event banquet halls and hotel ballrooms throughout Ottawa, parties are back.

"I find that we are busier this year, and it is customers who were here pre-COVID. Their employees want to do a party again," says Tony Zacconi, president and owner of Sala San Marco Event Centre.

The celebrations, he says, are bigger.

"I think, last year, people were still a bit worried about being in a room with, say, a hundred or two hundred people or whatever it is; this year, that's gone completely now."

It's back to the familiar and the fancy.

"It's an opportunity to get dressed up and get your hair done, and go out again because it is fun; being festive is fun."

At the Westin Hotel, event bookings are up 15 per cent from 2019. It is conventions and conferences during the week, and holiday parties on the weekends.

"It's been a phenomenal year," says marketing director Shaddy Shibley. "We're tearing down from a lunch event and setting up for a dinner event. Evening events, daytime events; we're quite busy and very excited about that."

At the Westin too, the events now look more like they did pre-pandemic.

"Last year, some companies was sort of a hybrid event. Maybe a company brought in their employees, but not a guest with the employee. This year, they're going all out," says Shibley.

Realtor Nick J. Kyte recently hosted a holiday appreciation event for 100 of his clients and he says he's also being invited to more and bigger events too.

"It is busy this year. I'm seeing sometimes I'm double booked and what-not, which is great to see. This is not like it was last year. Last year there seemed to still be a pause and obviously before that, during the pandemic, there was no parties at all."

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