Festival season is in full swing in the capital!
Summer is the start of festival season in the nation’s capital. Ottawa welcomes crowds from all over to celebrate art, culture, food, music, and so much more. The Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, Fringe Fest, Italian Week, and Glowfair are behind us, but there are still so many great events to look forward to all the way into the fall!
With is something for everyone, here are some of the festivals hitting the capital this summer.
Ottawa Jazz Festival
Ottawa’s Jazz Festival takes place from June 23-30 at Marion Dewar Plaza, Confederation Park and select small venues in the downtown care. Connect with the rich history and sounds of jazz music while taking in the creativity and diversity of the beloved music genre.
Jazz Fest has been a trailblazer in jazz explorations for over 40 years. What began as a weekend of outdoor jazz in Major’s Hill Park has evolved into one of the city’s most anticipated musical events.
Festival passes and day passes are available for purchase at https://ottawajazzfestival.com.
Photo: Chris Parker
Canada Day in the Capital
Ottawa does not mess around when it comes to Canada Day. A national holiday, the city’s downtown streets are packed with people from all over the country. Food and trinket vendors, street performers, and artists line some of Ottawa’s most popular streets from sun up to sun down.
The concerts, art, dancing, and activities conclude with a dazzling firework display, creating an action-packed day for all to look forward to. So, wear your favourite red and white outfit, grab some friends, and remember to stay hydrated!
Key destinations include Parliament Hill, LeBreton Flats, Majors Hill Park, Lansdowne Park, Rideau Street, Sparks Street, and more! More information at https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/canada-day.html
photo: Canadian Tourism Commission
Ottawa’s most famous music festival, RBC Bluesfest, takes place from July 6-16th at Lebreton Flats. With a focus on showcasing local, regional and national artists, Bluesfest began in 1994 as a celebration of the best of Canadian Blues and has evolved into a multi-genre experience, offering concerts of Blues, Alternative, Rock, Jazz, Funk, Soul, Rap, Folk, and other developing forms of music.
Day passes, weekend passes, and full festival passes are available at https://ottawabluesfest.ca.
Celtfest is a fun weekend of Ottawa Valley and Celtic entertainment performed in the natural amphitheatre at Gemmill Park in the heart of Almonte. Celtfest 2023 takes place from July 7-9. Expect displays by unique artisans and vendors presenting the colourful Celtic heritage with flair!
Venture out for a jig, a song, and a great time! Admission is free, and donations are encouraged. For more information, visit https://almonteceltfest.com.
Company of Fools
Your foolish friends at Company of Fools have brought their whimsical Shakespeare performances to parks across the Ottawa region for over 30 years. Although not a festival, their annual summer celebration of the Bard of Avon is not to be missed. From July 10 to August 26, the troup is performing the tragedy Hamlet, full of zany and hilarious characters and their signature spin.
The Fools’ pay-what-you-can policy makes the shows accessible for everyone. For more information and to see when they will be in a park near you, visit fools.ca.
Photo: Courtesy fools.ca
Centretown Movies Outdoor Film Festival
If there’s one thing residents of this cold capital like is spending as much time outside as possible, especially in the city’s local parks. To take advantage of warm nights and revitalize an underused urban space, Centretown Movies screens free films at Dundonald Park every Friday and Saturday night from July 19 to August 14. For info on screenings, visit https://centretownmovies.wordpress.com/about-us-2/
Photo: Centretown Movies
Amazing Thailand Festival
Each July, the Royal Thai Embassy in Ottawa cordially invites everyone to experience the beauty of Thai culture at the Amazing Thailand Festival. Visitors can try delicious Thai cuisine, take in captivating classical Thai dance and Muay Thai martial arts, relax with traditional Thai massage, shop handcrafted products, engage in art workshops, and more!
Be sure to stop by Lansdowne Horticulture Building on July 30. Admission is free and open to all ages. For more information, visit https://ottawa.thaiembassy.org.
Capital Ukrainian Festival
Canada is home to the world’s largest population of Ukrainian people outside of Ukraine. From mid-July to October, the Capital Ukrainian Festival presents a comprehensive program of brilliant Ukrainian artists, speakers and more, coupled with various events to give Ottawa a glimpse of Ukraine’s rich history.
On August 19th and 20th, the Capital Ukrainian Festival Marketplace takes place at Lansdowne Park; a colourful farmers’ market to support Ukraine. Some events are free, and some are ticketed. For more information, visit https://www.capitalukrainianfestival.com/#artists
One of Ottawa’s newer music festivals, CityFolk has served as a summer’s last hurrah in the capital since 2011. Hosted at Lansdowne Park, CityFolk is a multi-day celebration of music, dance, and community featuring an eclectic mix of musical performances on various stages.
CityFolk celebrates artists representing a broad spectrum of musical genres and collaborates with Ottawa’s artistic community. This year’s festival takes place from September 13-17. For information regarding lineup and tickets, visit cityfolkfestival.com.
Come live a day the Greek way! Live Greek music, the world-famous Zorba Show, dance performances, historical tours, and a mouth-watering menu attract thousands of Ottawa residents and visitors annually. The festival takes place from August 11-13, 15, and 18-20 at 1315 Prince of Wales Drive.
Admission is free. For the complete program, visit https://www.ottawagreekfest.com/entertainment/
Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival
The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival is the perfect way to wave goodbye to summer and welcome Fall with open arms. Held in the large Parc de la Baie, the festival features rich and diversified Quebecois musical programming, a thrilling amusement park, hot air balloon rides, contests, and a finale firework show.
For all five days, the festival grounds are packed with smiling people. It is best to reserve tickets in advance to guarantee a spot, especially for those who plan on parking. Day passes start at $13, while Festival passes start at $45. For more information and ticket sales, visit https://achat.montgolfieresgatineau.com/en/
Photo: Dominic Charette Photographe
Ottawa Capital Pride
Get proud at Ottawa Capital Pride. All LGBT+ members and allies are welcome to celebrate, advocate, educate and connect for the beautiful cause of loving all for who they are. The festival kicks off with the Capital Pride Pageant on Saturday, August 19, and concludes with the Pride Parade on Sunday, August 27.
A lineup of unique events throughout the city, including a Youth Pride Prom, food and art-related events, and more, fill the week and welcome people of every identity. Most events are free. For the full lineup, visit capitalpride.ca.
Ottawa Chamberfest has been sharing music with Ottawa since 1994. What began as an annual performance has grown to include a popular concert series and a wealth of community engagement. Chamberfest takes place from July 20-August 3rd featuring multiple concert series such as their Signature Series, Marina Kun Series, Late-Night Chamberfringe concerts, Midday Matinees, and more.
Large-scale collaborations between world-renowned musicians, core string ensembles, piano shows, brass and vocal ensembles, and more can be taken in during Chamberfest at Ottawa’s beautiful Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre.
Concert tickets, day passes, and full festival access can be purchased at chamberfest.com.
Ottawa International Writers Festival
The Ottawa International Writers Festival takes place twice a year, from May 4-7 and again from October 25-30, and is dedicated to providing a welcoming environment for writers to celebrate all things literary. Live experiences, including poetry cabarets, public debates and discussions, scientific and fiction read-alouds, film screenings, play readings, songwriters circles, and biography showcases, create a one-of-a-kind festival for anyone who loves reading, writing, and learning.
Writers Festival events take place at various locations, including in-person and streamed events, podcasts, and live online readings. For more information, visit writersfestival.org.
Ottawa Lumiere Festival
Lumiere is a fun, free, family-friendly festival in New Edinburgh’s Stanley Park, with a magical atmosphere for all to enjoy. A lantern-making workshop invites you to express your creativity and become a part of the festival.
Lanterns on display, a mystical labyrinth, performers and music illuminated by lamplight help make the Lumiere Festival simply entrancing. From 5-10 pm, August 24th, re-discover the night and the magic of light! For more information, visit https://rockcliffepark.ca/event/lumiere-festival/
Ottawa Pet Expo
Animal lovers can look forward to fall for Ottawa’s largest family pet show. On October 14 -15 at the EY Centre, enjoy interactive installations such as a TICA Cat Show, celebrity pets, Bird Market, creative grooming demos, and more.
Entrance is pet-friendly: tickets are just $11.50 for children and seniors, while adult entrance is $17. For more information, visit ottawapetexpo.ca