BEST OF OTTAWA 2018: Festivals

BEST OF OTTAWA 2018: Festivals

After over 20-years writing about life in Ottawa, we think we have
a pretty good idea of the best of what this city has to offer.
In this weekly series, we’ll share our picks with you - 
our top hotels, live music venues, local brews,
bands and more. Check, share and discuss
#OLMBest every week!

By: Kat Walcott and Anna Jonas

Photo Credit: Andre Gagne


Bluesfest could be called the event of the Summer. Having evolved slightly over its 20+ year history, it’s known for attracting some heavy hitters of the music industry. This year’s lineup includes July Talk, Muse, P!nk and Sam Roberts Band. They’re also big into giving back to the local community, running a program called “Blues in the Schools” to encourage arts education, letting kids get creative and explore making music.

Photo credit: Aaron Hemens

Capital Pride Festival

The 2018 Capital Pride Festival was the biggest yet, and it only looks to continuing growing from here on. This annual summer festival is all about spreading love and acceptance and celebrating the country’s vibrant and diverse LGBTQ+ communities. The festival features a grand parade, various marches, street vendors, drag shows, live concerts and much more. It is truly one of the most exciting Ottawa events.

Photo credit: Carivibe


Nothing says summer like a party on the beach and Carivibe is summer at its finest. This beach and food festival celebrates Caribbean culture in the capital and is known as Canada's Biggest Caribbean Beach Party. Taking place in June on Petrie Island, there’s music, dancing and amazing food. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Photo Credit: Canadian Heritage


One of the best things about winter in Ottawa, Winterlude provides fun for the whole family. Whether marveling at the world class ice sculptures, watching ice dragon boat races, indulging in maple taffy or taking in one of the awesome concerts at Confederation Park, you’ll enjoy yourself so much that you’ll actually start to relish the frigid temperatures.

Photo Credit: Canadian Tulip Festival

Tulip Festival

Every May, Ottawa gets decked out in multicolour for the Canadian Tulip Festival. The flowers are an annual historic gift from the Netherlands to recognize the contributions of Canadian soldiers in freeing Europe as well as Princess Margriet's birth in Ottawa, the only royal ever born in North America. With things to do and see across the city’s hot spots like Lansdowne Park, Dow’s Lake and the ByWard Market, this festival never disappoints.

Photo Credit: Andre Gagne


This massive glow in the dark block party lights up Bank Street in June. The combination of music, light and art includes glow yoga, a marketplace and bazaar, dance parties, and an art zone among many other activities. The festival also hosts an array of musical acts–both local musicians and big names. The festival’s silent disco is definitely one of the highlights you don’t want to miss.

Photo Credit: Kat Walcott

Ottawa Asian Night Market

The Ottawa Asian Night Market is one of the city’s younger festivals, having debuted in 2016, but has quickly grown to become one of the city’s hottest food festivals. Taking place in the heart of Ottawa Chinatown, on Somerset, this festival is inspired by the night markets that are common place in countries like South Korea and China. The 3-day festival includes dozens of vendors selling all the Asian cuisine you can ask for from bubble tea to grilled squid.

Photo Credit: Aaron Hemens


For the first week in August, the best buskers in the world flock to Sparks Street to show off their exciting and unique talents. The festival has attracted a wide range of performers from all over the world for the past 26 years, ranging from fire-breathers to contortionists to acrobats. Always fun and sometimes a little mind blowing, prepare to be truly amazed.

Photo Credit: Ottawa Tourism

Sparks Street PoutineFest

You’ve not truly experienced spring time in Ottawa until you’ve been to PoutineFest at least once. Taking place at the end of April, this event is very much a kick off to the spring/summer festival season in Ottawa. Every year, Sparks Street is lined with poutine vendors from near and far offering various spins on this Quebec dish of curds and gravy. From pad Thai-inspired poutine to poutine topped with lobster meat, you will want to try everything!

Photo Credit: Andre Gagne


Westfest is often the kickoff of the Summer festival season and the organizers know how to throw a good party. Focusing on Canadian and Indigenous talent, this past year’s lineup included awesome artists like Cody Coyote and The Pursuit of Happiness. Besides the music, the festival grounds also home a beer garden, a food truck court composed of many local favourites, a community mural, a popup movie, a marketplace of local creations and a pavilion celebrating indigenous cultures.