• By: Keith Whittier

Ottawa Lebanese Festival–A Scene of Cuisine

The grounds of St. Elias Cathedral are busy this time of year—full of Lebanese festivalgoers eager to eat, enjoy music and have fun celebrating Middle Eastern culture.

Lebanese 1 (800x533)I went to the festival on an empty stomach so my first stop was the Tannis food tent. The tent had multiple line-ups of hungry individuals like myself. Luckily the chefs were efficient and my homemade falafel sandwich with hummus and pita came in no time.

It was the most delicious falafel and hummus I’ve ever had. The best part? The hummus comes in a large tub. I didn’t think I would leave the festival with leftovers but I have enough hummus for a week!

But as Ray Skaff, Communications Director, would say, “It’s the Lebanese way.”

Ray told me that it’s apart of their culture to share—in fact, he wouldn’t let me interview him until I agreed to a drink or a dessert.

“You’re in our house, we treat you as our guest,” he said with a smile.

The five-day festival began July 16 and I learned from Ray I missed Karl Wolf’s performance—a show the artist puts on voluntarily. Karl Wolf was not the only performer; 27 artists performed on two main stages over the course of the festival.

Ray said people come from Toronto, Montreal and Halifax to enjoy the festival. Around 30,000 people attended last year’s event and Ray believes this year’s numbers will be even higher.

Lebanese 3 (800x533)“There are 350 volunteers and about 80 hardworking ladies in the kitchen—ladies who know how to make the best homemade food,” said Ray.

The festival happens because of the volunteers. All of the proceeds go toward St. Elias Cathedral and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.

“It’s like we’re a family. It’s an opportunity for us to work together for a common cause,” said Ray.

In addition to the fabulous food and music, the festival was full of rides, games for kids, traditional gifts for sale, raffle draws and more.

“We’re proud to share our amazing food and we want to share this event with the entire region,” Ray said.


Did you attend the Ottawa Lebanese Festival? Let us know what your favourite part was!