Ottawa’s Largest Theatre Festival – Welcome to the Fringe

21 Jun

Free performances at the Fringe Courtyard!

Hungry for some theatre? This week, Ottawa’s largest theatre festival rolled into town, and with it comes a healthy serving of comedy, drama, musicals, and dance spread across a buffet of over 50 shows running until Sunday, June 24th.  The Ottawa Fringe Festival takes place in the city’s Downtown Rideau neighbourhood, and gives independent writers, directors and actors a fantastic showcase to perform across a variety of unique venues.

Theatregoers are known to have discerning tastes; at the Fringe, that means a healthy taste for drinks and food, courtesy of the fine folks at the Fringe Courtyard, the festival’s go-to destination for beer, wine, cider and a variety of delectable foods, all served up in a relaxing outdoor environment next to Arts Court on Daly Ave.  Hit the Courtyard in the evenings, and you’ll be treated to free performances, play previews, and live comedy shows – as well as a chance to mingle with other Fringers, and chat with the stars and producers of a number of shows.

For a full list and schedule of the performances this weekend, click here. Tickets are available online, and on location at each show’s venue.

Happy Fringing!

 

 

WANTED: Artists on Canada Day in Ottawa!

7 May

Ottawa throws one heck of a party each July 1. That’s Canada Day and the entire region erupts into a wild celebration of all things Canada…. There truly is no better place to be in the country on Canada Day than in Canada’s Capital Region.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — aka Will and Kate — were the guests of honour at Ottawa’s Canada Day celebrations in 2011. CREDIT: Central Image Agency

A big part of the celebration is organized by the National Capital Commission, including the noon and evening shows on Parliament Hill, the massive fireworks display and fun, interactive programming in Major’s Hill Park in Ottawa and Jacques-Cartier Park in nearby Gatineau, Québec.

The NCC (as it’s known) has issued a call to artists to create some unique artwork for Major’s Hill Park for this year’s celebration. Check out the details on their website.

They’re looking for something collaborative — meaning a temporary creation that would be built or made by the artist and members of the public as the day progressed; sounds like fun!

The details of Canada Day 2012 won’t be released for a few more weeks but stay tuned — it’ll be a 145th birthday party to remember!

Jane’s Walk: intimate portraits of Ottawa

1 May

Preston Street (Ottawa's Little Italy) is just one of the neighbourhoods taking part in Jane's Walk Ottawa May 5-6.

This weekend — May 5 and 6 — brings an opportunity for Ottawa residents and visitors alike to discover unique, intimate looks at the Ottawa region. Jane’s Walks are named after Jane Jacobs, a noted urbanist, and this year marks the 5th anniversary of these free strolls in Ottawa.

Start times run from roughly 9:00am to 3:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday and there are walks for every taste. Discover neighbourhoods like Little Italy, New Edinburgh, Vanier, Barrhaven and Manotick, among others. Stroll through Notre Dame Cemetery, the trees of the Arboretum, or you can even learn about edible weeds!

Most walks are presented in English but some are in French — and there’s even a bike tour (new this year).

Best of all — it’s free! See the full schedule here and get walking this weekend!

Warm Breezes and Cool Jazz

26 Apr

Summer nights in the capital are full of warm breezes and cool Jazz from June 21 to July 1. The TD Ottawa Jazz Festival brings more than 900 artists to Confederation Park in the heart of downtown and other satellite stages around town.

Acts on the main stage include 2011 Grammy Award Winner for Best New Artist, Esperanza Spalding, who proves that jazz continues to reinvent itself with timeless popularity. Another high energy new young act is American R&B artist Janelle Monáe. Her stunning vocal prowess and smooth dance moves are sure to delight the audience. With catchy songs like “Tightrope” you’re sure to be grooving along with her.

June 25 is a night is dedicated to New Orleans jazz starring Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. The Grammy-nominated group is sure to get the crowd going with their music fusion of superfunk, jazz, and rock. If you haven’t heard them before, this is one to check out! Shorty is followed by New Orleans living jazz and blues legend Allen Toussaint.

Jazz and blues is stunning music that can pull you into melodic soul of the artist. But maybe you are looking for something more light hearted, if so, June 26 is the night for you! Comedian Steve Martin will take to the stage with the Steep Canyon Rangers for a night of bluegrass and comedy.

When it is time to take a break from the sunshine the Studio and Improv Series right across the street at the National Arts Centre showcases an exceptional line up in intimate venues. The schedule caters to the true jazz connoisseur featuring critically acclaimed performers like The Jack DeJohnette Group and up-and-coming talents like the jazzy improv sounds of IPA.

After the shows at Confederation Park wrap up for the night, the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival keeps your toes tapping with the OLG Late Night Series. Dance the night away with Snarky Puppy and Los Amigos Invisibles plus a host of other hot party bands.

Visit the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival site for the full lineup. Full festival and day passes are available. Book Ottawa Tourism’s Celebration Vacation, Taste of Canada or Rendez-vous for Two package to purchase an exclusive two-day festival pass plus accommodations.

King Lear set in 1608 Canada!

4 Apr

Coming to Ottawa this May? Check out this performance of Shakespeare’s King Lear at Canada’s National Arts Centre.

August Schellenberg

King Lear is perhaps the greatest of all Shakespeare’s dramas.”
The Telegraph

From May 8-26, 2012, the National Arts Centre English Theatre presents King Lear, set in the Canada of 1608 (the year the play was written) during the Iroquois/Huronia Wars. This version of Shakespeare’s tragedy, directed by Peter Hinton, includes a cast of Aboriginal actors from across Canada and features the renowned Quebec actor August Schellenberg as Lear.

Tickets are available at the NAC box office and online. Or, plan your Ottawa vacation and include this production as part of an Ottawa Tourism getaway package.

Other 2012 productions from the NAC English Theatre include Communion (April 10-21), Sandra Shamas’ WIT’S END III: LOVE LIFE (April 10-14), The Glace Bay Miners’ Museum (Oct 16 – Nov3), thirsty (Nov 5-17), and Pride and Prejudice (Nov 21 – Dec 8).

JUNO fever hits town

30 Mar

Get out and party whenever you visit Ottawa!

Ottawa is hopping as the crème-de-la-crème of the Canadian music industry descends on Canada’s capital to celebrate! The JUNO Awards were last hosted in Ottawa in 2003 but the party is bigger and better this time around.

Canadian icon William Shatner will be the host of the awards themselves on Sunday, April 1 but there are plenty of other activities — from a hockey game with musicians and former National Hockey League players to a huge autograph session to a series of concerts in great local clubs — to keep you busy. Or sit down at one of the JUNO pianos located in public places around town and regale passers-by with your talents!

No matter when you visit Ottawa, though, you should explore Ottawa’s thriving live music scene. Here are just a few venues to check out:

  • Zaphod Beeblebrox (named after a character in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series) just celebrated its 20th anniversary in March 2012 and shows no signs of stopping! Owner Eugene Haslam consistently books acts before they become famous, including Ben Harper, Alanis Morissette, Ani DiFranco, Our Lady Peace, Jewel, the Dandy Warhols and more! The Rolling Stones filmed their Streets of Love video at the club in 2005.
  • Pubs: Ottawa loves its pubs and most of them provide live music, often with no cover charge. The Heart & Crown in the ByWard Market neighbourhood has 7 nights a week of music while Irene’s Pub in the Glebe neighbourhood has a great Thursday night blues jam and Saturday afternoon open stage along with regular weekend shows. D’Arcy McGee’s on Sparks Street has a regular Wednesday Night Kitchen Party.
  • The Elmdale Tavern in trendyWellington West neighbourhood takes its live music—and its beer—seriously. There’s something happening almost every night: from rock to folk to alternative to poetry readings to you name it!
  • If you’re into blues, it’s worth the walk up the stairs to the Rainbow Bistroin the ByWard Market district. It’s a strange layout (think rustic ski chalet) for a live music club but it somehow works. All the greats have performed here and they continue to program a solid set.

    Get your toes tappin' at these great live music venues!

  • If DJs are more your thing, head down to Babylon Nightclub on Bank Street for their Friday night and Saturday night Dance Parties. Or nearby Barrymore’s Sunday night Retro 80s parties. In the ByWard Market, try the 21st century soul club that is Mercury Lounge.
  • For some live jazz, head to Bank Street’s Café Paradiso or downstairs at Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro in the ByWard Market.
  • For something a little edgier, you’re best at Mavericks or Café Dekcuf, both on Rideau Street. Bring your earplugs!

What are YOUR favourite places to hear music in Ottawa? Let us know in the comments below!

Great Ottawa patios

19 Mar

Unbelievably, summer has sprung early in Ottawa. Not just timid spring but full-on, t-shirt-wearing, outdoor-dining summer! The next few days will be solidly in the 20s Celsius (that’s 70s Fahrenheit) so we thought we’d celebrate with a list of some of Ottawa’s greatest patios (NOTE: we can’t guarantee they’ll all be open this week but clip and save for future reference!).

BYWARD MARKET NEIGHBOURHOOD

This is patio central. If there’s a stretch of sidewalk available in front of a restaurant, there will be a patio. Some favourites?

Romantic: The back patio at Murray Street Kitchen Wine Charcuterie is a slice of heaven. It’s sheltered from the street with interesting art and it becomes progressively shadier as the summer progresses (grapevines gradually fill in the overhangs). The Black Thorn Café on Clarence Street has a front patio that’s nice, but walk into the cobblestone courtyard and you’ll find their spacious back patio overlooks a sprightly fountain (in summer), some greenspace and the tin façade of a house mounted on the imposing stone walls of the Sussex Drive buildings.

Social: Still romantic but a bit more social are the four restaurants that share the Clarendon Courtyard behind the shops on Sussex Drive between George Street and York Street. Fine dining awaits at the hip Social, the musically diverse Black Tomato, the inventive Courtyard Restaurant and the old-school Italian Mamma Grazzi’s Kitchen.

The Cornerstone's location means it gets lots of sun!

Sunniest: The Cornerstone Bar & Grill is on the southeast corner of Clarence Street and William Street and gets tons of sun. Likewise, the Earl of Sussex patio (Sussex Drive at Murray Street) benefits from a particularly sun-filled location. You can chase the sun through about 5 different outdoor locations at the Heart & Crown pub — the Irish Village complex has an interior courtyard, sidewalk locations on Clarence and Parent and upper and lower decks overlooking Murray Street.

Best People-Watching: The Aulde Dubliner and Pour House at George Street and the William Street Mall give you a great look at the action in the neighbourhood — the Pour House in particular as it’s on the second floor (use it to gauge how long the lineup is at the nearby BeaverTails stand!). At the same corner, you can indulge in pizzas and pastas from The Grand Pizzeria and Bar while watching the world walk by. Meanwhile, Luxe Bistro at the corner of York Street and ByWard Market Square — and the Empire Grill at Clarence and Parent — are both prime people-watching spots, too.

Rooftops: You’ll love the music at the Hard Rock Café on York Street and the views from the roof of Stella Osteria on Clarence Street are impressive, too!

OTHER NEIGHBOURHOODS

Elgin Street is another great nightlife area, and the patio at D’Arcy McGee’s won’t disappoint, with its million-dollar views of the National War Memorial, Fairmont Château Laurier, National Arts Centre and more. Speaking of the National Arts Centre, their Le Café dining room overlooks the Rideau Canal — perfect for a summer’s evening!

Chinatown is not known for its patios, which makes ZenKitchen‘s that much more enticing.

On Preston Street (Ottawa’s Little Italy), you can whet your whistle at another branch of the Heart & Crown or at Pub Italia — yes, an Italian-themed pub!

The New Edinburgh neighbourhood boosts a huge rooftop at the aptly-named New Edinburgh Pub or you could explore some locally brewed beers at the Clocktower Brew Pub (note: the beers are brewed at the location in the Glebe neighbourhood, which also sports a patio).

Speaking of brewpubs, you could also check out the newly opened Mill Street Brewpub just west of downtown near the Canadian War Museum or venture over to the wonderful Brasseurs du temps in Gatineau, Québec.

Wherever you go, you’ll find a welcoming patio! Share your favourites below in the Comments.