Kicking Off The Season: The Ultimate Guide to Ottawa’s Summer Festivals
By: Madelaine Manson
Festival season in Ottawa is in full bloom. Spring has finally arrived, and with the weather warming up, it’s time to emerge from hibernation and experience all that our beautiful city has to offer. In the upcoming months, we have some fantastic events and festivals to look forward to. Wondering how you’ll fill those blissfully lazy weekend afternoons? Ottawa has got you covered. With a vast array of opportunities to experience live music, dance, art, film, cuisine, and the natural beauty of the National Capital Region, there is truly something for everyone.
Ottawa is seeing stars this season amidst the world-renowned talent participating in the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest, the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, and the Ottawa Folk Festival. Don’t miss out on the chance to catch live performances from Lady Gaga, The Barenaked Ladies, Blake Shelton, Journey, and Lady Antebellum among many other fantastic performers at RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest. Jazz more your style? Look forward to enjoying a performance from the legendary Aretha Franklin at the Ottawa Jazz Festival. This season’s local festivities are the prime place to catch performances from your favourite artists as well as emerging young talent. Ottawa’s summer music festivals are consistently ranked as some of the best in the world with epic line-ups, and 2014 is certainly no exception.
Curing summer vacation boredom will be a cakewalk with all of the family-friendly events available to enjoy. Keep the kids entertained with carnival rides, petting zoos, pony rides, face painting, and street entertainers throughout the season. Check out the Ottawa International Children’s Festival, the Tim Hortons' Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival, and various Canada Day festivities for a day of fun the whole family will enjoy and remember.
Feeling famished? There is no shortage of exciting cuisine to get your mouth watering. Get a taste of Ribfest on Sparks Street, Ottawa Greekfest, and events happening throughout Ottawa’s Italian Week . Following that, what could be more refreshing than a nice cold beer? Support local businesses and eateries by grabbing an exceptionally crafted beer at the National Capital Craft Beer Festival. Experience international culture and expand your culinary horizons in Ottawa this summer.
The upcoming months in Ottawa are filled to the brim with opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the long-awaited warm weather, explore the local community, and create lasting memories with family and friends. Take a peek below at the array of upcoming events and festivals in Ottawa to see what catches your eye.
Keep an eye out on ottawalife.com for more information about these exciting festivities throughout the season.
See you there!
Italian Week Ottawa
- When & Where: June 5th – June 15th, Various venues throughout the city
- Partake in this weeklong celebration of Italian culture through musical entertainment, food tasting and contests, fireworks, carnival rides, and much more. Restaurants along Preston Street in Little Italy will be participating in the festivities from June 13th – 15th
- When & Where: June 6th – June 8th, 190 Glenpark Drive
- Established in 1971 Blackburn Hamlet’s Annual Community fair offers community events, games, rides, various kid-friendly activities, and live music from noon to midnight on the Saturday with a licensed beer garden.
Canada Dance Festival
- When & Where: June 9th – June 14th, Various venues
- Support the development of Canadian dance by watching incredible performances by both established and up-and-coming artists
Ottawa Children’s Storytelling Festival
- When & Where: June 14th, National Arts Centre
Ottawa StoryTellers and two women productions present the Iliad, from start to finish, in a twelve-hour immersive telling of the story
- When & Where: June 18th – June 22nd, Sparks Street Mall
- Check out this epic rib-battle between teams from Canada and the U.S. competing for the top rank of best rib choice, rib sauce, chicken choice and chicken sauce. Enjoy live entertainment, eating contests, demos, and samples along the way
- When & Where: June 19th – June 22nd, Mooney’s Bay Park
- This event is a great opportunity to get outdoors and support a not-for-profit organization offering non-stop dragon boat racing. Also enjoy free concerts, food vendors, and a children’s area with activities and performers
Ottawa Fringe Festival
- When & Where: June 19th – June 29th, Various venues
- Check out 50+ theatre, dance, and comedy shows at various venues throughout downtown Ottawa
TD Ottawa Jazz Festival
- When & Where: June 20th – July 1st, Various venues
- This festival cannot be missed with fantastic jazz performances being offered day and night throughout the event in various indoor and outdoor venues
Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival
- When & Where: June 20th – June 22nd, Vincent Massey Park
- Experience and celebrate the Aboriginal cultures of Ottawa. Featuring the annual competition Pow Wow, music workshops, Aboriginal performances, and much more the whole family will enjoy
Unisong Choral Music Festival
- When & Where: June 27th – July 2nd, National Arts Centre, Rideau Park United Church, & Rotunda of Parliament
- Enjoy free vocal performances by a large, all-ages choir group celebrating Canada Day in Ottawa
Show Your Red White & True…Patriot Love
- When & Where: June 26th – July 1st, Various downtown venues
- Celebrate Canada Day in downtown Ottawa with live music and the living flag
Canada Day Arts Festival
- When & Where: June 28th – July 5th, Queen Juliana Park at Dow’s Lake
- Bring along the whole family to celebrate Canada Day. Enjoy a marching band, live entertainment, pony rides, cultural events, and many more family-friendly activities
Canada Day in the Capital
- When & Where: July 1st, Parliament Hill
- Various free activities are offered throughout the day on both sides of the Ottawa River, including street entertainers, games, ceremonies and performances, ending with a fireworks display
RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest
- When & Where: July 3rd – July 13th, Lebreton Flats
- 6 stages and over 200 acts performing throughout this legendary festival with a star-studded line-up
Torchlight Shakespeare Festival
- When & Where: July 3rd – August 16th, Various parks throughout Ottawa
- A Company of Fools, Ottawa's longest-running professional Shakespeare company, is back this summer to perform Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “As You Like It” at parks throughout Ottawa. This family-friendly show is has a ‘Pay What You Can’ policy with a suggested donation of $15 per person
Carnival of Cultures
- When & Where: July 4th – July 6th, Marion Dewar Plaza (Ottawa City Hall)
- Check out Ottawa’s largest weekend celebration of international folk arts, showcasing traditional music, song, and dance of cultures from around the world
Music and Beyond
- When & Where: July 5th – July 17th, Various locations throughout Ottawa
- Come out and enjoy this new classical music and multi-disciplinary arts festival featuring more than 350 of the best musicians and artists from across Canada and around the world
- When & Where: July 12th, Mooney’s Bay Beach
- HOPE, a not-for-profit events management organization that raises money for community-based charities, is back hosting their annual Volleyball SummerFest. Offering recreational volleyball and live music, this beach party for a good cause cannot be missed.
- When & Where: July 24th – August 7th, Various venues throughout downtown Ottawa
- Don’t miss out on the 100+ performances of classical music from world-renowned artists throughout downtown Ottawa
- When & Where: August 1st – August 4th, Sparks Street Mall
- Featuring family-friendly, logic-defying street performers from around the world including fire eaters, jugglers, and acrobats
- When & Where: August 8th – 10th, Marion Dewar Plaza (Ottawa City Hall)
- Experience Indian culture in Ottawa through music, dance, cuisine, cinema, crafts, and more
- When & Where: August 14th – August 24th, 1315 Prince of Wales Drive
- Immerse yourself in Greek culture at Greekfest with live Greek music, traditional Greek dances, Greek cuisine, cooking demonstrations, Greek language lessons, Greek traditional dance lessons, craft and cultural exhibits, and much more
- When & Where: August 16th – August 25th, Various locations throughout the city
- Celebrate the spirit of pride in Ottawa’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, two-spirited and questioning community
- When & Where: August 15 – 17th, Marion Dewar Plaza (Ottawa City Hall)
- Don’t miss out on this festival showcasing exceptionally crafted beers and local eateries. Designed to promote the appreciation of Craft Brewed Beers and local cuisine
- When & Where: August 18th – 23rd, 2014, Location TBA
- Check out Ottawa’s annual boutique music and arts showcase. Inspired by progressive arts festivals around the world, this community-driven festival showcases Ottawa’s cultural renaissance with live music, media art, installation art, and architecture. Also offering children’s workshops and local cuisine
- When & Where: September 10th – September 14th, Hog’s Back Park
- Enjoy this annual outdoor festival featuring 70 performances from world-renowned folk artists
Festival Latino Ottawa
- When & Where: September 12th – September 14th, Location TBA
- Experience Latin American culture and heritage in Ottawa with art, live performances, authentic cuisine, and local artisans and vendors
- When & Where: September 12th – September 14th, Various venues TBA
- When & Where: September 8th – September 14th, 335 Michael Cowpland Drive, Kanata
- Celebrating Turkish culture with live music, food, art booths, performances, and more
- When & Where: September 11th – September 15th, Various locations
- This festival is predicated upon the idea that we are the city and we make it what it is. In hopes to provide us with a new experience of the city of Ottawa, look forward to finding choirs in public squares, bike music on the canal, secret stories on street corners, and a magic maze popping up in the park. Join the conversation online using the hashtag #wemakethecity
- When & Where: September 17th – September 21st, Bytowne Cinema, National Gallery of Canada, Arts Court Theatre
- Enjoy the world’s most cutting-edge, provocative, and funny animated films here in Ottawa while mingling with many of animation’s most celebrated stars and characters. Learn about the industry and discover behind-the-scenes info.
- When & Where: September 20th, Little Italy
- Celebrate the food and wine of Preston Street in Little Italy. Offering grape stomping, carriage rides, a farmer’s market, and more
It’s a natural fit. Ottawans are in for a treat this coming Friday (May 10) as the city’s own GR...
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