Rideau Canal Festival & Buskerfest bring delights this weekend!
- Wednesday, 28 July 2010 04:52
- Written by Jantine Van Kregten
The third annual Rideau Canal Festival runs this weekend, from Friday, July 30 through Monday, August 2. While all of Ontario has Monday off as a “civic holiday,” in Ottawa that holiday is named Colonel By Day, after the Royal Engineer who spearheaded the building of the Rideau Canal.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, the Rideau Canal stretches 202 km (126 miles) to Kingston and the St. Lawrence River. It was built for a military purpose (to serve as an alternative route to get troops and supplies between Kingston and Montréal in case the Americans ever blockaded the St. Lawrence) but was never used for that purpose.
Now it’s a beautiful series of waterways, locks and canals. In winter, a 7.8km (4.8-mile) ortion in Ottawa becomes the world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink. In summer, recreational boaters, cruises and paddlers plie the waters, while cyclists, inline skaters and runners use the recreational pathways along its banks.
The Rideau Canal Festival endeavours to be environmentally friendly, encouraging visitors to cycle, walk or use public transportation to visit its main sites, including the Bytown Museum, Confederation Park and Dows Lake area. You can enjoy a Buy Local Barbecue Challenge on Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 11:30am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm where local chefs use local products in delicious presentations. Or participate in Saturday’s Musical Breeze Bicycle Parade, held in conjunction with the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, where cyclists are encouraged to participate with their bicycle bells and other noisemakers in musical performances along the Canal.
Some of the most popular attractions are the flotillas — the nighttime flotilla at Dows Lake on Saturday night followed by fireworks and the daytime flotilla on Sunday, leaving Dows Lake at 2:00pm on its way to the National Arts Centre downtown.
New this year is a salute to the Badaling Great Wall of China, and the other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China, to be found in Confederation Park at the World Heritage Plaza. Crafts, performing arts and a sneak preview of the magnificent Chinese Archway currently being constructed in Ottawa’s Chinatown on Somerset Street West near Bronson await!
And if you’re downtown for the Rideau Canal Festival, you’ll also want to check out the Ottawa Busker Festival on the pedestrian Sparks Street Mall heading west from Elgin Street (July 29-August 2). There’s no admission charge, but if you’re charmed by the performers, you’re expected to contribute a loonie or toonie or two at the end! You’ll be amazed at the quality and variety of street performers on hand.