Ruth writes: I mentioned meeting Ryoko Itabashi playing a samisen and wearing a Japanese kimono in my first Blog on Ottawa. How nice it was to have an email from her. I feel I’ve made a new friend in that city. She doesn’t always busk at the Byward Market but look for her there.
Chances of meeting interesting people are usually good at festivals too, especially ethnic ones. You have reasons to ask questions. People are shy, but they do try to answer questions. As promised, here are some festivals in Ottawa you might consider for your next trip there. Our thanks to Jantine Van Kregten of Ottawa Tourism for compiling the following list. Dates marked in yellow have not yet been announced and need to be confirmed (TBC). As the time approaches, consult mentioned websites for dates.
Somerset Street Chinatown. Businesses throughout Chinatown feature the work of modern and traditional artists and crafts. Whether enjoying dim sum or sipping bubble tea, you’ll be surrounded by a fabulous selection of art. Dates TBC (in the past, it’s been in May or June but they’re going through transition and their website says major announcements are coming in May). www.chinatownremixed.ca
Preston Street. Celebrating its 40th year, Italian Week features a huge religious procession that winds through its streets, a Mardi Gras type celebration and wonderful samples of Italian food and music. Dates: June 11-21, 2015. www.italianweekottawa.org
Ottawa Lebanese Festival
St. Elias Cathedral and Banquet Centre. Enjoy fabulous food, celebration, Middle Eastern musical entertainment and dance, and plenty of family fun.
July 15-19, 2015. 613-852-2249. www.ottawalebanesefestival.com
Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival
Vincent Massey Park. In honour of National Aboriginal Day, see some of Canada’s best Aboriginal talent, featuring music, family programming and more! . June 19-21, 2015.
Ottawa Eid Festival
EY Centre. A family-friendly festival with a bazaar, a toddler zone, fun inflatable games for all ages, and of course, delicious food served by various restaurants! July 17 or 18, 2015. www.macottawaeid.com
Capital Ukrainian Festival.
Ottawa’s first Ukrainian Festival. July 24-26. www.capitalukrainianfestival.com.
Muslim Summer Festival
Britannia Park. Celebrating all cultural and religious backgrounds and representing more than 20 countries, the Muslim Summer Festival offers an exciting array of traditional cuisine, exhibitions, bazaars, and activities for the whole family. August 1, 2015 . 613-321-5002. www.muslimsummerfestival.com
1315 Prince of Wales Drive. This annual 11-day festival showcases live Greek music, traditional dances, excellent Greek cuisine, language lessons, etc. August 13-23, 2015 . www.ottawagreekfest.com
South Asian Festival
Ottawa City Hall. This free event features non-stop entertainment ranging from Bollywood dance, laughter yoga, bhangra and live vocal performances to culinary delights to health education and screening. August 14-15, 2015. 613-291-8624. www.southasianfest.net
Ottawa Turkish Festival
335 Michael Cowpland Drive. Turkish art, folk dance, music and gourmet food, where visitors will get an opportunity to celebrate, learn, and savour Turkish hospitality, culture, heritage and cuisine. September 7-13, 2015. 613-228-1616. www.ottawaturkishfestival.com
Clarke Fields Park. Home of the biggest Bavarian Beer Hall in Ontario! This traditional Oktoberfest serves up local beer, food, and local performers. October 2-4, 2015 . 613-769-4800 . www.oktoberfestottawa.com
Robbie Burns Night
January 2016 (exact date and venue TBC) .
The Great Blessing of Water Ceremony
Canadian Museum of History (formerly Canadian Museum of Civilization). Take part in the Ukrainian Feast Day of Theophany, by attending a traditional blessing ceremony near the Ottawa River. January 2016 (exact date TBC). 819-776-7000 / 800-555-5621. www.historymuseum.ca
CIBC Chinese New Year’s Festival
EY Centre. Welcome in the new year with authentic New Year’s Chinese food, lion dance, live music and a traditional Chinese fashion show. February 2016 (exact date TBC). 613-822-8800. www.ottawaasianfest.com
Lion Dance – Lunar New Year Celebration
Somerset Street Chinatown
Lions will tour business to business to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits! Enjoy this cultural experience and have a taste of the celebration. (See also Night Market July 10-12, 2015). February 2016 (exact date TBC). 613-230-4707. www.ottawachinatown.ca .
In addition to these, look for a pamphlet: 2015 Festival Calendar – Ottawa Festivals d’Ottawa. Published by Employment Ontario, it mentions an Irish Festival in March, www.irishsocietyncr.com; a Latin American Film Festival in April-May, www.cfi.icf.ca/laff; the Ottawa International Children’s Festival in May, http://ottawachildrensfestival.ca/; and of course the Canadian Tulip Festival with multicultural performances daily in May, www.tulipfestival.ca. There’s also the Festival of India Aug. 7-9, www.festivalofindiaottawa.org and Jamaica Day August 8, www.jamaicanottawaassn.org. I’m sorry I missed the Vietnamese Exhibition and Cultural Show on May 3, http://www.vietboatpeoplemuseum.ca/en/the-vietnamese-boat-people-a-40-year-journey-comes-to-life. Look for the ones you missed next year.
Who says Ottawa is not a multicultural city?