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Best of the Fests: TD Ottawa Jazz Festival and More


Pink Martini, the self-described "little orchestra", is one of many groups performing at this year's TD Ottawa Jazz Festival.

Pink Martini, the self-described “little orchestra”, is one of many groups performing at this year’s TD Ottawa Jazz Festival.

JUNE 18 TO JULY 1 The TD Ottawa Jazz Festival marks its 35th anniversary this year, welcoming a roster of talented and diverse musicians to the capital for a two-week bash. Although jazz has always been the festival’s primary focus, it has begun to attract musicians from other genres as well.

Among this year’s dynamic headliners, appearing on the main stage in Confederation Park, are some big names from Canada and abroad. Legendary folk singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn, whose career has spanned more than 40 years, performs at the festival for the first time ever on June 20. The Grammy Award-winning instrumental fusion band Snarky Puppy plays on June 27. And Pink Martini, the self-described “little orchestra” comprised of more than a dozen members, brings their world-renowned songs to the stage on June 29. Other headliners include neo soul band The Roots, blues rock guitarist Steve Miller, trumpeter Chris Botti, gospel and blues group The Blind Boys of Alabama, and piano wizard Jamie Cullum.

Dedicated jazz fans will want to head indoors to the National Arts Centre’s Studio, where the bulk of this year’s traditional jazz musicians are performing. The one and only Branford Marsalis, renowned saxophonist and composer, performs pieces from his storied career alongside his band. And don’t miss noted South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, who was one of the driving forces behind Cape Town’s unique jazz sound. Other performers include the Stanley Clarke Band, jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas, and pianist Renee Rosnes.

Expanding beyond jazz, the festival brings in alternative country artist Lindi Ortega, indie pop ensemble Groenland, folk quartet Timber Timbre, indie rock artist My Brightest Diamond, and Nunavut throat singer Tanya Tagaq, who won the 2014 Polaris Music Prize for her album Animism.

Visit ottawajazzfestival.com for full schedule and ticket information.

Upcoming Festivals:

Ottawa Explosion
JUNE 17 TO 21 
The city gets in touch with its rowdy side during this weekend festival dedicated to hardcore, punk, and garage music. The lengthy roster of musicians boasts dozens of bands both from Canada and the United States, with some participants from Ottawa. Notable names include California punk-rock band Toys That Kill, Ottawa’s Steve Adamyk Band, and the all-female indie rock group Chastity Belt. ottawaexplosion.com

Ottawa Fringe Festival
JUNE 17 TO 28 This festival of avant-garde and boundary-breaking theatre focuses on troupes and companies from Ottawa, but also brings in others from across Canada and the rest of the world. This year’s program features a comedian from Japan, improvisational theatre by one of Ottawa’s top improv troupes, and a group from Toronto that incorporates dance, aerial arts, and circus into their shows. ottawafringe.com

In "Mars", two astronauts must make unexpected choices when their voyage to the Red Planet goes awry. It is on at Ottawa Fringe Festival from June 19 to 28. (Photo: Jim Kost)

In “Mars”, two astronauts must make unexpected choices when their voyage to the Red Planet goes awry. It is on at Ottawa Fringe Festival from June 19 to 28. (Photo: Jim Kost)

JUNE 19 AND 20 Ten blocks on Bank Street close down for the weekend in a bright, colourful, and whimsical display of art and performances. This year’s theme is “Enchanted Forest”, and the organizers are bringing in art by Stefan Thompson, costumes by Black Mohawk Productions, and more. The musical headliner is Kiesza, the Calgary pop star who won three Juno Awards in 2015. glowfairfestival.ca

Dragon Boat Festival
JUNE 25 TO 28 At North America’s largest dragon boat festival, over 200 teams go head to head in races at Mooney’s Bay, 15 minutes south of downtown. Canadian bands serenade spectators while the teams compete: this year’s festival has attracted such popular names as Tokyo Police Club, Hey Rosetta!, Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, Rural Alberta Advantage, and more. Plus, food and drink from local vendors, as well as inflatable slides and obstacle courses for kids and families. Admission is free. dragonboat.net

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