Glowfair 2018 Brings the Shine Back to Bank Street

Photo credit: Jonathan Marshall

The summer sun had finally arrived; families were out walking and laughing; music filled the air, and when the evening set, the lights came on and dancers took to the streets in a myriad of colours.

Glowfair was back. A party all weekend long where everyone could show up to celebrate and feel welcome, bringing out the best of what Ottawa is and can be.

The official opening celebration on Friday drew smiling faces from every corner of the city. The biggest event in Centretown kicked off with thousands of Ottawans walking from James Street to Slater, and often times back again!

Street corners lined with art, interactive activities, local vendors and more, made it hard to believe you were even in the same city! Those looking to unwind in the colourful lights could participate in Glow Yoga, and even onlookers felt some zen radiating out from the peaceful congregation.

Incredible performances rocked the mainstage Friday night by electronic-pop artist BRDGS (Jon Pike), Juno-nominated Indigenous artist Iskwé, and star singer/songwriter, Virginia to Vegas (Derik Baker).

Things heated up on Saturday and people were popping in and out of patios to stay hydrated as they participated in the many events that crammed the multiple ‘block parties’ Bank Street was hosting.

Families were taking a spin into the past on the Rainbow Rollerrink by James Street, where kids and parents alike were sipping on ice-cold lemonade in retro-inspired roller skates, snacking every now and then on delicious gourmet gummies from Squish.

One group was the Sinha family, who have been coming to Glowfair for a number of years now.

“We’ve been to the last three-to-four already,” said Akash Sinha. “We like coming out every time, it’s always fun!”

A short jaunt took passers-by to Vaudevillage, where Ottawa Capital Pride featured the eccentric circus-themed services of Capital Tease, and a family friendly showing of talented burlesque dancers. Hosted by TD Canada, this block captured the attention of everyone with their ornate and intriguing displays.

With a hop, skip, and a jump I reached the Marketplace between Maclaren and Somerset, where community-based vendors offered their crafts, art pieces, wellness products, and more!

There we ran into a group perusing the wares of the different stalls, and chatted about their favourite aspects of the festival.

“A couple of years ago we stumbled upon it,” explained Constantine Ioannou. “We found it was really nice for an evening stroll, it was also nice to rediscover the stores and businesses in the area.”

Martine Mitton agreed, and pointed out the diversity in activities that Glowfair brings together.  “You know, you’re walking and ‘BOOM’, a little bit of Aboriginal art here and in the Enchanted Forest, and if I’m very daring, I can go for the big concert scene,” she said. “Something for all tastes!”

They both acknowledged that the success likely stems from the family oriented aspect of the event, and that it was exciting to see young children playing around the adults, who can take part in everything together.

“It’s not a very stressful event, and that’s what I like about it,” said Ioannou. “Everyone is finding something that they’re intrigued by.”

Walking up to the main stage, I passed by loads of creative pit-stops. There was the flashing Swing City near JUMP OTTAWA, the tye-dye bandana station by Wallacks Gallery, and Art Chaos, where a dozen street artists provoked the curious with their imaginative portraits.

By the time the stars came out, the Enchanted Forest was blooming with colour as everyone stopped by to take a selfie with their friends, finding some magical creatures along the way!

On the Morguard main stage, the talents of some of Canada’s best artists found themselves turning up the volume to match the applause from the massive audience that came to see them perform.

After Karl Wolf and Ria Mae brought the crowd to a breaking point, it was surreal to hear everything go quiet when the silent disco started. Three DJ’s battled it out to keep the party going, and you could look out onto a sea of red, blue, and green and figure out which one to see what everyone was tuning in to!

How does one describe Glowfair 2018? Bright, enthusiastic, positive, crazy fun, and proud are just some words that come to mind. I know I’m not alone when I say I can’t wait for next year’s Glow!