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Festivals & FairsOttawa may be a city that likes to work hard, but we also know how to relax and celebrate! The Ottawa area is fortunate to play host to a wide array of Festivals and Fairs each year. From Winterlude to the annual Tulip Festival and a seemingly endless string of concerts and cultural events, visitors and residents are never left asking themselves what to do. In Ottawa, you'll have a hard time deciding what to do next!
Where better to celebrate Canada Day than in the nation's capital? Every July 1st, Parliament Hill hosts the nation’s largest birthday party. It's a day loaded with events from the changing of the guard to concerts and - of course! - fireworks. You’ll also find a variety of events held elsewhere in the city throughout the day, all celebrating the diversity and splendour Ottawa has to offer.
More annual Ottawa festivities:
Animation Festival – The Ottawa International Animation Festival is the largest of its kind in North America, attracting film buffs, art lovers, filmmakers, and cartoon fans from around the world. Screenings take place all over the city, including the ByTowne Cinema, the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and Empire Theatres.
Blues Festival – The Cisco BluesFest is rapidly becoming one of Ottawa’s leading attractions. This internationally acclaimed festival is a celebration of the best Blues, Roots, R&B, Rock, and cultural music, held throughout the city. With the lineup of performers increasing every year, BluesFest is a must-see event.
BuskerFest – Sponsored by the Sparks Street Mall, BuskerFest is the second-largest buskers’ and street performers’ festival in Canada. Come out and watch comedians, mimes, dancers, storytellers, magicians and more from all over the world.
Capital Pride – Ottawa’s most colourful festival, organized by the GLBT community. Ottawa’s Pride Week features tons of activities: dances, exhibits, films, sporting events, vendors and a spectacular parade and street party. All are welcome as the capital celebrates diversity!
Carnival of Cultures – Ottawa’s international folkloric festival brings brings music,song and dance from the four corners of the world to the nation’s capital. It also aims to promote the creativity and artistic development of artists who work in the folk arts in Canada.
Celtic Festival – A fun summer celebration of the vibrant Celtic culture. Dancers and musicians drawing from Scottish, Irish, Welsh and English traditions sing and perform alongside the Ottawa River.
Children’s Festival – An annual celebration of the best in live performing arts for children. For over two decades the Ottawa International Children’s Festival has presented an abundance of award-winning artists from around the globe and made wide-eyed children out of attendees of all ages.
Dragon Boat Festival – An annual, culturally diverse festival held at Mooney's Bay Park every June. Over 5,000 paddlers compete to win on the water while immersing themselves in a wide variety of cultural performances, workshops, and raising money for charity.
Folk Festival – The Ottawa Folk Festival is held in the middle of August in beautiful Britannia Park in the West End. It has been recognized as one of the "Top 50 Ontario Festivals" by Festival & Events Ontario and features many awardwww.-winning singers and songwriters.
Fringe Festival – A celebration of the non-mainstream ("fringe") performing arts. The Ottawa Fringe Festival is a ten-day summer event including performances of Shakespeare, theatre of the absurd, drama, comedy, youth theatre, clowns, classical and new music, art and contemporary dance.
GreekFest – “Live a day the Greek way” with this traditional summer festival. Featuring entertainment, singing, dancing, theme days, language lessons and delicious Greek cuisine, this is an event for all ages to enjoy.
Jazz Festival – The Ottawa Jazz Festival is the region’s premier music event. It is the second longest continuous- running jazz festival in Canada, and boasts the biggest loyal audience of any event in eastern Ontario! It is known to have presented some of the most dynamic jazz artists on the scene today, from the traditional to the avant-garde.
Ladyfest Ottawa – A non-profit music and arts festival showcasing women's artistic expression and the talents of female artists. A creative and inspiring festival, "by women, for everyone!"
Lumière Festival – This is a celebration of the magic and beauty of light! The Lumière Festival is a well planned and safe lantern festival, based on similar festivals throughout the world. Children are delighted to be part of the magic, fairy wings bumping behind them as they proudly carry their very own jam jar lantern.
Magnetic North Theatre Festival – This is a must-see annual cultural event! Canadians are treated to the best of English theatre from across Canada. MNTF gives us the opportunity to share our stories, to interpret our history and our times, and to explore how we see the world.
Navan Fair – Agricultural exhibits, horse and livestock shows, antique machinery displays, tons of craft and commercial vendors and of course a midway make this late summer fair a favourite treat for kids and adults alike.
One World Film Festival – Sponsored by World Inter-Action Mondiale (WIAM), this festival highlights global issues of all kinds, raising awareness while celebrating the power of film. WIAM works with Canadian human rights organizations to further public education about the problems facing the global community.
Reggae Festival – Ottawa Reggae Festival (ORF) has been born and will groove Canada's capital city each year with the sweet sounds of Reggae at the Le Breton Flats Park. This classic landscape is the perfect outdoor arena to show off a music and culture that has touched the world, especially Canada.
Rideau Canal Festival – This newly-established annual summer festival kicked off with resounding success in 2008, celebrating Ottawa’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. A mid-summer extravaganza offering fun-filled events and heritage activities for the whole family.
Storytelling Festival – This annual family festival at the National Library is the major storytelling event in Ottawa each year, and features the very best tellers from the Ottawa area and across Canada.
SuperEX - As Ottawa's largest annual community event, SuperEX works closely with many communities to present a varied mix of programming, exhibits and entertainment designed to reflect not only the Ottawa of today but the region's past as well. Performers of all kinds, exhibits, concerts and a midway make this Ottawa’s largest annual community event.
Tulip Festival – The largest festival of its kind in the world, with over three million tulips in full bloom creating a stunning indulgence for the senses. This three-weekend floral affair isn’t just about taking time to stop and smell the tulips. Visitors are treated to a wide range of concerts and events for all ages at different venues throughout the city.
Victoria Day Festival – Celebrate the Queen’s birthday in style at this family event with something for everyone. Amusement rides, band shell entertainment, a midway, a petting zoo and pony rides, face painting, balloons, a live DJ and concession stands.
WestFest – Westboro Village's festival of music, art and life has quickly become one of Ottawa's premiere summer festivals. It is a diverse celebration that includes music, visual, literary, performance art, dance, spoken word and theatre, and best of all, it’s FREE!
Winterlude – North America’s premier celebration of all things winter! This three-weekend spectacle is held every February, and attracts people from around the world. Visitors can indulge in the beauty of the ice sculptures or take a leisurely skate along the Rideau Canal. Winerlude is the perfect excuse to enjoy the cold.
World Refugee Week – International NGOs and activists gather for a festival of theatre, dance, media and music. Live performances within a theatrical backdrop of large scale portraits and video displays involving artists from Africa, Canada, Central Asia and the Americas.
Writers Festival – Celebrate the world’s best writing from home and abroad with an eclectic program that presents interactions with leaders in the worlds of science, history, poetry, politics, spoken word, economics, drama, fiction, biography, music, religion, spirituality and more. Presenting events for all ages in both official languages.
Know about an Ottawa-area festival we didn't list? Let us know !
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