Tuesday, July 23, 2024

What are the festivals in Ottawa on June 21-23?

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The first official weekend of summer is upon us and that means it’s peak festival season, with no fewer than five major festivals taking place in the nation’s capital. 

Here’s what’s happening. 

Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival
A 2022 photo from the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival in Ottawa. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Celebrate the sun

June 21 marks National Indigenous Peoples Day, and the kickoff to the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival at Madahoki Farm on Hunt Club Drive. That’s the home of the Indigenous spirit horses, but this weekend it’s also filled with activities, games and performances celebrating Indigenous culture, including throat singers, hoop dancers, storytelling sessions, craft workshops and a family fun zone that includes a mechanical bull. A competition pow wow is also taking place on the farm at the same time, with grand entries scheduled for noon Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free, although donations are welcome. Please note there is no public parking on site; instead a shuttle runs from Algonquin College’s Woodroffe campus, with free parking on campus for festivalgoers. Go to summerstolsticefestivals.ca for details.

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Escapade Music Festival
A file photo of the crowd attending a previous Escapade music festival at Lansdowne Park. Photo by David Kawai /Postmedia files

Dance til you drop

Get sweaty with thousands of youthful partiers at Bud Light Escapade. Ottawa’s biggest electronic-music festival returns to Lansdowne Park with three stages and a lineup that boasts some of the world’s top DJs, including Illenium, Steve Aoki, Chainsmokers and Armin Van Burren, plus a special appearance by Shaq’s Bass All Stars featuring basketball great Shaquille O’Neill. Tickets and passes are sold out, but you can sign up on the waitlist at https://www.escapademf.com/tickets and cross your fingers. 

Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival
A file photo from the 30th annual Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival last summer.. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Paddle to the park 

The Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival returns to Mooney’s Bay Park this weekend, featuring a non-stop schedule of dragon-boat races, along with two nights of free, all-ages concerts. The main-stage fun starts Friday with a headlining set by Rare Americans, who are actually alt-punk Canadians, and support by Montreal’s femme fatales, Nobro, and Glengarry County Celtic rockers the Hallions. Saturday’s schedule sees the electro blues-rockers Blue Stones at the top of the bill, backed by Luella, High Waters, Dan Kelly and Emma Lamontagne. There are also plenty of family activities and a selection of food and beverage vendors. For information, go to dragonboat.net

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Ottawa Jazz Festival stage
A photo taken Monday shows the Ottawa Jazz Festival main stage being set up in Confederation Park. Photo by JULIE OLIVER /Postmedia

Jump into jazz 

The Ottawa Jazz Festival starts Friday and runs until June 30, showcasing some of the best musical performers from Canada and beyond. But it’s also a great chance to check out the vibrant local scene, which is usually confined to indoor bar shows that happen after dark. Some of the local highlights include the explosive brass power of Prime Rib Big Band (free show, noon June 25, OLG Stage, Marion Dewar Plaza), the funky soul of Smelloship (7:30 p.m. June 22, OLG Stage, ticket/pass required), the horn-laden and vocal-studded big-band outpouring of The Commotions (10:30 p.m. June 26, OLG Stage, ticket/pass required), and the sparkling Afro-Latin rhythms of Cuban pianist Miguel de Armas and the Ottawa Latin Jazz Orchestra (6:30 p.m. June 23, main stage, Confederation Park, ticket/pass required). Find more info at ottawajazzfestival.com

Alain Richer Ottawa Fringe Festival
Alain Richer, director of Fringe/Undercurrents Theatre Festivals. Photo by Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

Explore the fringes of theatre

Theatre creators from across Canada and as far away as Australia are in town for the 27th edition of the Ottawa Fringe Festival, on until June 23. Like all fringe fests, it’s an uncurated, open-access festival where 100 per cent of ticket sales go to the artists, and artists are selected by lottery. Some of this year’s winners include Toronto’s Duck and Roll Theatre, Vancouver’s Jessica Piegeau, Ottawa’s Fenton Ho, and an Australian duo who share the trials and tribulations of touring. This year’s shows are divided between Arts Court and La Nouvelle Scene; tickets are $14 per show, plus a $3 pin that gets you into the festival. Go to ottawafringe.com for complete details on ticketing, shows and the best hang-out spots.


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