Ottawa isn’t only Canada’s political capital; it’s one of the country’s culture capitals as well. The city is home to some of the best festivals and events in the world.
From the biggest bands to the biggest parties, from music to animation to Canadian pride, here is a list of Ottawa festivals that keep people coming back year after year.
Winterlude: Ottawa’s winter celebration, Winterlude is a nearly 40-year-old event that’s all about celebrating Canadian’s snowy climate and culture. During three jam-packed weekends in February, you can ice skate on the world’s largest ice rink, play in an ice hockey tournament, watch an ice sculpture competition, or just enjoy the music, dancing, and food that comes with a fantastic outdoor party. Winterlude will take place from February 3-20 next year.
Canadian Tulip Festival: A celebration of the return of spring, the Canadian Tulip Festival is a tribute to a historic friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. In 1945, Princess Juliana presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs in thanks for the safe haven their royal family received in the city during WW2, and the role Canadian soldiers played in the country’s liberation. Today, over a million tulips in 50 different varieties bloom in public spaces around Ottawa. The flower beds of Commissioners Park, where 300,000 flowers take bloom, is the centrepiece of this beautiful festival.
Westfest: A Tribe Called Red, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Hexes and Ohs are just a few of the acts that have taken part in Westfest, a free, three-day music and arts festival in Ottawa that focuses on Canadian talent.
Ottawa Jazz Festival: Founded in 1980, the Ottawa Jazz Festival has grown into a celebrated event that features some of the biggest acts in the world of jazz and beyond, from Brian Wilson to Sarah Mclachlan.
Escapade Music Festival: Diplo, Martin Garrix, Ben Gold, and many of the world’s biggest DJs visit Ottawa for the annual Escapade Music Festival, an annual electronic dance music (EDM) festival.
RBC Bluesfest. Don’t let the name fool you; the RBC Bluesfest includes acts of all genres of music, from rappers Schoolboy Q and Future, to folk band City and Colour, to rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This two-week event takes place in the heart of summer at Ottawa’s LeBreton Flats.
Ottawa Chamberfest: A number of beautiful Ottawa churches are turned into venues for this annual chamber music festival—the largest of its kind in the world.
CityFolk: Wintersleep, Van Morrison, and the Sheepdogs are among the bands who have made the trek to CityFolk: a five-day September celebration with over 25 musical performances, as well as dance and visual art.
Ottawa International Animation Festival: Do you love animation? Then you’re in luck. Some of the most cutting-edge, provocative and, of course, funny animation in the world comes to Ottawa for the International Animation Festival. From classic cartoons to the latest animation techniques, this festival has it all.
Canada Day is such a big event that we wanted to give it some room to shine!
Canadians are proud of their country, and that pride is put on display every July 1st during the annual Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill. Party on the lawns of this historic political building alongside tens of thousands of red-and-white-wearing Canadians. Roam the closed downtown streets and get your face painted with a big red maple leaf. Dance to the music at Major’s Hill or Jacques Cartier Park and head back to Parliament Hill for the huge evening concert and fireworks.
Canada Day in Ottawa is already one of the best parties of the year, but in 2017 Canada will be celebrating its 150th birthday. With one more reason to celebrate, you’ll probably want to come down to join the party.