The City that Fun Forgot? The exhilaration of Ottawa’s music festivals in the Sesquicentennial year

OTTAWA, ON – They say that Ottawa is the city that fun forgot, and there is some truth to that.  Just this week there was a story in the Ottawa Citizen on how there were 2,000 seats left unclaimed at the Canadian Tire Centre for the first game of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  There was also a story last year on how bylaw officers shut down a kids’ lemonade stand over some infringement.  And then there’s whole Canadian government thing, that excites no one but the nerdiest of news junkies.

So no, Ottawa doesn’t always do exciting – but the six week span between the middle of June and the end of July is a blur on par with Christmas for any hardcore festival attendee.

It all starts with Westfest, the all-inclusive, ever evolving extravaganza in Ottawa’s west neighbourhoods.  In it’s second year in it’s new location in a small Mechanicsville park, it’s is our unofficial start to summer.  Within 10 days, the gear shifts, and the Ottawa Jazz Festival gets underway.  One of the few festivals to stay true to its musical roots in its 37 year history, it attracts a receptive, dedicated audience who love nothing more than to relax under the breezy, early summer evenings and listen to world-class music alongside our own, homegrown talent. We return back to the surrounding neighbourhoods for the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival; where teams race down the Rideau River for charity by day and cool off to line ups featuring Canada’s hottest acts by night.  And then there’s the legendary Bluesfest; a pillar of Canada’s summer festival scene. There’s even a festival for people who just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the the big bad government city – but don’t expect to relax as hard rock, metal and punk fill the quiet Quebec town of Montebello during Rockfest!

Then of course, in the middle of it all, there’s Canada Day; when the streets of downtown Ottawa become rivers of red and white leading all the way to Parliament Hill. A spectacle and a thrill for any visitor to the region during any given year; but under the lens of the 150th anniversary celebrations, the party promises to be one for the ages.

So much music, in such a short amount of time – and that’s not even counting Hope Volleyball Summerfest, Arboretum and CityFolk, that come right as you’ve caught your breath and bid farewell to another busy summer in the Capital.

Hundreds of artists, representing countless genres from all over the world are set to visit the region this summer.  From classic rock staples like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Iggy Pop; to international superstars such as P!nk, 50 Cent and Toby Keith.  And, of course, the diversity and pride of the Canadian music family will be on full display; from hometown heroes MonkeyJunk and A Tribe Called Red, to rising stars July Talk, to established favourites Feist, Sam Roberts Band and the Sheepdogs.  The city is so rich with music and celebration, it can be difficult at times to separate the experiences from one music festival to another.  And that’s OK, because this big, beautiful city is shining right now.  It’s proud and ready to go; and is ready to show the rest of our nation how a boring government town lives life to it’s fullest!

Ottawa’s 2017 story only just got started with the JUNO Awards. Let’s bring Canada on the short, fast ride that is our Nation’s Capital in the summer.

For more information, be sure to check out these social media links for news and updates to the 150th celebrations in Ottawa.

Ottawa 2017


Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

Ottawa Jazz Festival

Montebello Rockfest

Canada Day

Ottawa Bluesfest

Hope Volleyball Summerfest



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