If you’re looking for live music, Ottawa has plenty of that all throughout the year. From cozy live music bars and pubs, to nightclub hubs as well as state-of-the-art concert venues, you’ll be able to find a live music act on any given night of the week. Here are a few places to get you started:
The ByWard Market district:
If you’re looking to get acquainted with Ottawa’s live music scene, Ottawa’s ByWard Market neighbourhood is a good place to start. The ByWard Market is a bustling downtown Ottawa neighbourhood that is home to a local farmers’ market as well as many artisans and boutiques during the day. But at night, this pedestrian-friendly area becomes the epicentre of Ottawa’s nightlife.
To explore one of Ottawa’s staple music scenes, head to the Rainbow Bistro at 76 Murray Street. This is Ottawa’s Legendary Home of the Blues. The “Bow,” as it’s known locally, has been bringing local talent as well as notable Blues musicians to Ottawa since 1984. Here, you can catch matinée as well as evening performances. Even Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd, who is an Ottawa native, has been known to drop by for a surprise performance!
Another staple live music venue is Zaphod Beeblebrox. Located at 27 York Street, Zaphod’s is known as “the nightclub at the end of the universe.” This intergalactic-themed venue is where you’ll find up-and-coming as well as established acts from across the musical spectrum. The Zaphod’s mantra is actually “heard before the herd.” This club also has a claim to fame: Zaphod Beeblebrox was used to film the Rolling Stones’ Streets of Love video!
Just outside of the ByWard Market district, at 323 Bank Street, you’ll find Barrymore’s Music Hall – another staple live music venue. Originally built as a Vaudeville theatre in 1914, Barrymore’s has changed over the years and is now known as Ottawa’s version of New York’s “Studio 54!” Here, you can catch up-and-coming acts as well as more established bands. Well-known bands such as U2, Radiohead and The Tragically Hip played at Barrymore’s before they made it big!
Big Stages and Big Acts:
National Arts Centre (NAC):
Located along the scenic Rideau Canal, the National Arts Centre (NAC) is where you’ll find the NAC Orchestra and a variety of live music acts, including musical theatre performances throughout the year. From live music to various forms of dance, “the NAC,” as it’s known locally, is sure to have a show to suit any taste or mood. This is where you’ll find some of Canada’s best artists as well as major international acts.
Canadian Tire Centre:
Located in Kanata, about a 20-minute drive west of Ottawa’s downtown core, Canadian Tire Centre (CTC) is home to the city’s National Hockey League team, the Ottawa Senators. But this more than 19,000-seat venue is also where major music headliners play. You can catch various premier acts here throughout the year! Previous performers include Rhianna, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Guns n’ Roses, Kenny Chesney and Cirque du Soleil, among many others.
TD Place Stadium:
Located in Ottawa’s newly renovated Lansdowne Park area – just south of the downtown core – this is a new 24,000-seat outdoor event venue. Here, you can see Ottawa’s North American Soccer League team, the Ottawa Fury FC play as well as Canadian Football League team, the Ottawa REDBLACKS. But on occasion, TD Place Stadium serves as an outdoor concert venue. Well-known rock band AC/DC played at TD Place just this fall!
And as Canada’s Capital, Ottawa is a city of festivals, in which events take place almost all year round. According to Festivals & Events Ontario, Ottawa is host to more than 90 annual festivals. From Jazz, to Chamber music, to Blues and major music headliners, Ottawa is where you’ll find a myriad of acts and different music scenes. From June through September, you’ll find more than eight music festivals and some of them are free!
Again, this is a list to get you started. To explore more live music options in Ottawa, you can consult Ontario Live Music’s widget. On this widget, you’ll find many concert and event listings. The listings are also updated in real time, as new gigs are announced!