We love living in a city that is as vibrant as Ottawa is during festival season. Ottawa has a great set of festivals lined up every year and the music festivals are some of our favourites. Read on to see who, what, where and when!
TD Ottawa Jazz Festival (June 21-July 1, 2018)
Each summer, one of Ottawa’s largest music festivals – known locally as “Jazz Fest” – attracts some of the world’s best, as well as up-and-comers in the world of Jazz. Concerts are held on several outdoor stages near Ottawa City Hall and more intimate shows take place at indoor locations throughout downtown Ottawa. This year, the eclectic lineup features Chaka Khan, Alison Krauss, Herbie Hancock, St Germain, and many more international and Canadian artists. And each Canada Day (July 1), the Jazz Fest offers FREE admission to its concerts!
Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival (June 21-24, 2018)
This annual celebration of the historic dragon boat tradition takes place at Mooney’s Bay, just south of downtown Ottawa along the Rideau River. More than 200 teams compete in North America’s largest dragon boat event, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018! In addition to the colourful boats and exciting races, you’ll find a variety of exhibitors and artisans, food and drink, a Children’s Area with fun activities, plus world-class entertainment. The 2018 Dragon Boat Festival lineup includes the Sam Roberts Band, Broken Social Scene, Wintersleep, Hollerado, Matt Mays and much more. Admission is FREE!
Bud Light Escapade Music Festival (June 23-24, 2018)
Taking place the weekend before Canada Day, “Escapade” as it’s known locally, is Ottawa’s electronic dance music festival which takes place at Lansdowne Park, a popular gathering place located in the trendy Glebe neighbourhood near downtown Ottawa. Attracting a typically younger crowd, this is one of Ottawa’s wilder summer music festivals. Headliners in 2018 include Alesso, Kaskade, Armin Van Buuren and many more.
Canada Day (July 1, 2018)
For a truly memorable and epic Canada Day, join the country’s biggest birthday celebration in Canada’s Capital! Each year on July 1, tens of thousands of people gather in downtown Ottawa where numerous streets are closed to traffic. Stroll around and take in the many FREE Canada Day concerts on Parliament Hill and in other parks, as well as FREE Jazz Fest concerts and family activities throughout the area. And as nighttime falls, don’t miss the spectacular annual fireworks display!
Music & Beyond (July 4-17, 2018)
Kicking off the July music festival list is Music & Beyond, a classical music and multi-disciplinary arts festival. Over 14 days, this festival hosts dozens of concerts that feature orchestras, wind ensembles, instrumental and vocal recitals as well as smaller groups. It also draws attention to connections existing between classical music and other art forms such as dance, visual art, poetry, yoga and architecture, among others. This festival aims to make classical music affordable for all audiences, including students, seniors and families. The 2018 lineup includes John Rutter, Chanticleer, Cuarteto Quiroga, Alliage Quintet, Les Violons du Roy among others.
RBC Bluesfest (July 5-15, 2018)
This is one of Ottawa’s biggest and most anticipated annual music festivals! And don’t let its name fool you: “Bluesfest” offers much more than Blues. Taking place just steps from Ottawa’s downtown core at LeBreton Flats (beside the Canadian War Museum), this festival offers major headliners from the Country, Jazz, Pop, Rock and House music genres – to name a few. Get together with 300,000 Bluesfest fans over 10 days to enjoy 2018 acts such as Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, Shawn Mendes, Bryan Adams, Beck, Rae Sremmurd, Sturgill Simpson, Rise Against, Blue Rodeo and many more. Past performers have included Sting, Van Morrison, The White Stripes and The Black Eyed Peas. This is one of the top music festivals in North America!
HOPE Volleyball SummerFest (July 14, 2018)
This annual day-long festival is known to be one of Ottawa’s favourite FREE summer events, attracting a crowd of about 20,000 each year! Taking place at the scenic Mooney’s Bay Park along the Rideau River (just south of the Rideau Canal), this beach volleyball tournament benefits several local charities and offers an outdoor concert line-up for players and spectators alike. Opening acts perform throughout the day and headliners take the stage later on. This is a day of fun in the sun for a good cause!
Ottawa Chamberfest (July 26-Aug. 9, 2018)
The Ottawa Chamberfest – the largest chamber music festival in the world – is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018! From quartets, to pianists, to unique contemporary and theatrical events, this festival has a little something for everyone. Performances take place in some of Ottawa’s most beautiful spaces, including churches. This is a great way to spend a summer evening and get out of the heat!
Ottawa Chamberfest headliners this year include Roby Lakatos, Angela Hewitt, Marc-André Hamelin with Quatuor Danel, Ariel Quartet with the Rolston String Quartet, among others.
Arboretum Festival (Aug. 17-18, 2018)
The Arboretum Festival showcases music, food and drink in a unique rural setting – a farm located 25 minutes from downtown Ottawa. The event features a range of local, national and international artists as well as regional food and drink. A great summer celebration!
House of PainT festival (Aug. 23-26, 2018)
Each year, local organization House of PainT (HoP) hosts the largest 4 elements hip hop jam in Canada. Graffiti, breakdancing, DJs and MCs are showcased through battles, workshops, performances and parties. Don’t miss this popular festival which celebrates the best in Canadian urban arts culture!
CityFolk (Sept. 12-16, 2018)
CityFolk (formerly the Ottawa Folk Festival) is a celebration of music, dance and visual art, offering various musical performances, music workshops, family-friendly activities, craft beer, artisan and craft vendors, and much more over five days. CityFolk takes place at Lansdowne Park, located just south of Ottawa’s downtown core along the scenic banks of the Rideau Canal. Some of the performers last year included Jack Johnson, Father John Misty, Amanda Mashall and Post Malone.
And from Sept. 14-15, 2018, Marvest at CityFolk offers FREE performances in various locations throughout the lovely Glebe neighbourhood.