By Chris Lackner
Ottawa’s songbirds are ready to sing, and its bees are ready to buzz. The capital is the perfect place for a spring fling—whether you fancy
world-class music, dance, puppetry, or live theatre. We play cultural matchmaker with our profile of key May and June festivals.
Canadian Tulip Festival
May 12-22, tulipfestival.ca
If you like… colourful characters: This flowery fest celebrates the Second World War bond forged between Canada and the Netherlands. Dutch Princess Juliana sent a Royal thank you gift of 100,000 bulbs — and a free cultural festival around the floral tradition was born.
Personality: Enjoys showing off. Offers something for everyone with tulip exhibits, live performances, art, food, and family fun.
Love at First Sight: Homage to Malak Karsh in the Aberdeen Pavilion, floral fireworks at TD Place on Sunday May 21, and the official Canada 150 tulips in Commissioner’s Park
June 2-4, Laroche Park, westfest.ca
If you like… locavores:
This multi-disciplinary festival in Mechanicsville’s Laroche Park delivers a hyper local lineup — with a heavy focus on the capital’s talented music
Personality: Very neighbourly; really cares about the community. Westfest also showcases local businesses and food vendors, and entertains the younger crowd with a kid zone, and children’s performers.
Love at First Sight: Jesse Dangerously & Young K (June 2); MonkeyJunk (June 3); John Punch Band (June 4)
TD Ottawa Jazz Festival
June 23 – July 3, ottawajazzfestival.com
If you like… a serene serenade: A big-tent music festival with an intimate, relaxed, unhurried vibe (and concerts outdoors and indoors).
Personality: Displays real star power at the TekSavvy Main Stage in Confederation Park. Intrigues with new discoveries at the OLG After Dark Series on the Tartan Homes stage in front of City Hall. Shows authenticity with intimate performances from jazz stalwarts in the National Arts Centre.
Love at First Sight: Serena Ryder (June 23); Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires (June 30); and Feist (July 2)
Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival
June 22-25, dragonboat.net
If you like… the arty and athletic: Come for the races on Mooney’s Bay, stay for the stellar, free music lineup, and family entertainment.
Personality: Competitive, but also enjoys long walks on the beach (at Mooney’s Bay Park) and picnics. This fest also makes time for the little ones, with an all-day lineup that includes animal shows, entertainers, and inflatable fun.
Love at First Sight: The Sheepdogs (June 22); Kalle Mattson (June 23); Half Moon Run (June 24)