By Chris Lackner
Brighten up your world. From rainbow hot air balloons to green lizards, and Oktoberfest’s golden brews to Gatineau Park’s Pink Lake, spend this autumn in living colour in the nation’s capital.
The Last Waltz, a tribute to The Band, takes place at CityFolk.
September 15 to 18, Lansdowne Park
Tone: Ottawa’s signature fall event is set alongside the Rideau Canal in the heart of Lansdowne Park, one of the city’s top destinations for recreation, shopping and dining. This festival is red… as in red hot!
I Spy: Must-see performers include Oregon folk-rockers Blind Pilot and Ottawa’s The Acorn (Sept. 15); The Last Waltz, A Musical Celebration of The Band, presented by an all-star cast of Canadian blues and roots musicians (Sept. 16); Canadian indie royalty via folk queen Basia Bulat, and The New Pornographers (Sept. 17), and musical mad-hatters Lake Street Dive with X Ambassadors (Sept. 18).
True Colours: Discover Ottawa’s roots! CityFolk’s parallel event, Marvest, showcases free music — over 60 local artists — on Bank Street. Meanwhile, some of the city’s best shopping and dining options are only blocks away in The Glebe. Beau’s brewery will pour craft beer throughout the fest; if you want to sample even more of their local suds, read on for Oktoberfest.
Mark Monahan, CityFolk executive director:
“We have big names on the main stage, from Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy to James Bay from the U.K., and a lot of Americana and new indie-folk artists — the new faces of folk music — including John Moreland, Julia Jacklin and Calgary’s Michael Bernard Fitzgerald.”
The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival.
GATINEAU HOT AIR BALLOON FESTIVAL
September 1 to 5, La Baie Park, Gatineau
Tone: Held over five days, this festival blows a lot more than hot air. Start with over 50 hot air balloons, including special shapes such as a “gigantic elephant”, then add more than 300 activities and shows.
I Spy: Look out for a major musical tribute to Prince and David Bowie featuring 10 singers, a choir, 15 musicians and a dance crew. Families will love the amusement park, reptile zoo, and the Ultimate Strongman Junior World Championship (truck pulls and rock lifting!)
True Colours: The festival takes flight at night with fireworks displays, and two “night glows”, in which the balloons light up to the sound of music.
Éric Brulotte, Festival Spokesperson:
“We also offer a unique opportunity to fly over the nation’s capital, and the size of a hot air balloon is really impressive! One of our key activities is to visit the inside of a hot air balloon. You get to walk inside the balloon while it’s inflated. With all the colours, it’s perfect for memorable pictures! During the meet and greet with the pilots, the people can also see the equipment used for ballooning.”
September 23 and 24, Vankleek Hill Fairgrounds
Tone: Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi hoi hoi! Raise a pint — or four! What started as a few picnic tables on the brewery’s front lawn has grown into a can’t-miss fall event attracting 20,000 visitors annually for craft beer (with a focus on German styles), independent Canadian music and Bavarian-inspired food from top local restaurants.
I Spy: Beau’s popular Farm Table: Marzen Oktoberfest lager will return for the party. Beau’s new Oktoberfest mix pack, which includes a Vienna-style lager, a ginger hopfenweisse, a Baltic porter, and a spiced beer called a mumme. The specialty brews will be available at Oktoberfest and the LCBO.
True Colours: Come for the beers, stay for the music. A prost-worthy lineup includes 54-40 with Born Ruffians (Friday), and K-os with Hannah Georges (Saturday). Bus transportation from Ottawa, Montreal and Cornwall is available (tickets must be purchased in advance). Camping space exists for weekend pass holders. Wearing lederhosen is optional.
Steve Beauchesne, Beau’s co-founder:
“It’s not a sit-around kind of event, there’s so much going on. You can take a class on beer and food pairing, participate in (or enjoy watching) the keg toss or sausage eating competitions, or check out day and evening entertainment on two stages. There’s even a beer festival within our festival where you can try beer from 50 other national and international craft breweries.”
Reptiles at Museum of Nature.
REPTILES (MUSEUM OF NATURE)
October 7 to April 8, 2017
Tone: This interactive exhibit is part zoo, part natural history presentation, and will include live animals such as colourful lizards, exotic turtles and deadly snakes.
I Spy: Get your close-up with a chameleon and gaboon viper!
True Colours: You’ll have a whale of a time in the museum’s Water Gallery, including an awe-inspiring hanging skeleton of a Blue Whale. Elgin Street, only a few steps away from the museum’s front doors, is a thriving corridor for restaurants and pubs. Be sure to stop by the museum’s outdoor Landscapes of Canada Gardens; it’s reptile free.
Chad Peeling, Operations manager for Reptiland in Pennsylvania, which tours the show:
“Although chameleons are able to change colour, most do so as an expression of mood rather than an attempt to blend in. If a panther chameleon was dropped off at the peak of Ottawa’s fall foliage colours it might well turn red with stress, but it would also die quickly in the cool temperatures.”
Mac My Cheese Fest.
MAC MY CHEESE FEST
September 30 to October 2, City Hall
Tone: Only pay for what you eat at a whole festival devoted to serving the ultimate comfort food! It’s all about exploring the variety of mac and cheese taste possibilities.
I Spy: Carb load before the winter! Mac and cheese recipes will include traditional, Thai, pulled pork, smoked salmon, and bacon.
True Colours: The kids fun zone and rock-climbing wall will help your family work for that macaroni; the international mac and cheese dishes will blow the minds of Kraft Dinner fans.
Pink Lake in Gatineau Park.
Tone: From Oct. 1 to Oct. 16, the park will be brimming with colourful leaves and special activities for its annual Fall Rhapsody.
I Spy: While spots like Pink Lake and Champlain Lookout remain popular, the park is home to many hidden gems that aren’t as overwhelmed by tourists. Trek along the scenic Cross Loop Road in Chelsea, visit La Pêche Lake for tranquil kayaking and canoeing, or park at Meech Lake’s O’Brien Beach and hike to the Carbide Wilson Ruins (the remnants of a revolutionary industrial plant).
True Colours: Don’t let the name fool you, Pink Lake is emerald green thanks to microscopic algae. Its small surface and bowl-like shape, surrounded by steep cliffs, makes it one of the most unique hikes in Gatineau Park, offering stunning views. The spellbinding, well-maintained trail is accessible to all ages, but a starting lookout post offers a fall vista for the ages. Learn more about Gatineau Park’s Fall Rhapsody.