It’s that time of year again! Find out what artists are playing HERE and then get the schedule HERE. Below are some tips from the local newspapers on how to maximize your Bluesfest experience this year. Have fun and be safe!
You can get there for free
Bluesfest and the City of Ottawa struck a deal to offset the costs of providing transit for the festival, and thanks to a $2 surcharge (on tickets and passes purchased after June 1), all ticketholders can now get to and from the festival for free. A Bluesfest ticket will allow free OC Transpo service beginning three hours before gates open (5 p.m. weekdays and 12:30 p.m. weekends) until two hours after the last show ends. The festival estimates about 40% of patrons take transit.
There are two free offsite venues
The festival has tried out a number of free alternate venues over the years, and this year will feature free programming at the Rideau Centre and at Casino Lac-Leamy. The noon-hour Rideau Centre shows typically showcase singer-songwriters, while the casino hosts after-show parties, beginning at 11:30 p.m. and partying until the wee hours with the likes of Skratch Bastid (July 7), Madeline Merlo (July 13) and Champion and His G-Strings (July 14).
You can chill out
Finding shade can be a daunting task on the sun-baked expanse of LeBreton Flats in mid-July, and as always, festivalgoers are reminded to dress for the weather. One way to beat the heat is The Big Chill, which has a small shady grove tucked away between the festival’s two outdoor side stages. Fans often seek a brief reprieve from the heat in the air conditioned Canadian War Museum lobby, which will feature a poster gallery from Bluesfests past, and of course, the intimate (and indoor) Barney Danson Theatre.
Another onsite attraction
Apart from the continuous music on four outdoor stages, there is plenty to enjoy around the festival site, from the multicultural cuisine to VIP upgrade areas to autograph signings and numerous raffles, promotions and giveaways. Bluesfest’s community outreach – like the long-running Blues in the Schools or the recent addition of the Bluesfest School of Music and Art – has been a significant part of the festival fabric, and this year the festival features a new Youth Art component with four unique and interactive art installations around the site.
Plan your festival
With about 200 performances on five onsite stages across nine days, you’ll want to plan accordingly. While the headliners are household names, one of the beauties of Bluesfest is discovering new talent and new sounds on the side stages. The festival website has a feature allowing patrons to create their own personalized schedules on their mobile devices. Better yet, pick up a copy of Postmedia’s comprehensive Bluesfest Guide, published in Wednesday’s Citizen and Sun, for schedules, highlights, featured artists, and our own picks for the festival’s can’t-miss shows.