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Prairie Scene

Best of the Fests

Ottawa is the place to be when festival season rolls around. From performing arts to cultural celebrations — and everything in between — here are just a few of our top picks. By Misa Kobayashi.

Bachman & Turner

PRAIRIE SCENE
April 26 to May 8
The fifth installment in a series of biannual national festivals brings this eclectic, multi-disciplinary arts fest to the capital. Prairie Scene features 500 established and emerging artists from Saskatchewan and Manitoba who will present 80 different music, theatre, dance, art, literary, film, and culinary events. That’s a lot of talent in one place! Just a few names you can expect: rock and rollers Bachman & Turner, violinist James Ehnes, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. At various venues around town, tickets vary by event (some events free). For more information see www.prairiescene.ca.

Major's Hill Park during the Canadian Tulip Festival. Photo credit: OTCA.

CANADIAN TULIP FESTIVAL
May 6 to 23
Enjoy the stunning landscape, decorated with millions of tulips, in honour of this annual festival. In 2011, the theme is “Kaleidoscope — a celebration of spring awakening through colour, culture, and community.” This year, the event will be divided into two sections: “Floral Week” will centre around Commissioners Park where the dazzling flowers will be on view, while “Festival Week” (starting May 13), will offer entertainment, activities, and attractions at Major’s Hill Park. Exciting new events taking place include a whimsical tea party and showings of classic films for “Movies in the Park.” Other highlights include the FUNtasia kids’ zone and the International Food Emporium. Best of all, most of the activities and events are free! For a full schedule see www.tulipfestival.ca.

Ottawa Race Weekend along the Rideau Canal.

OTTAWA RACE WEEKEND
May 28 and 29
Ever year, Canada’s fastest-growing road race draws local, national, and international participants (plus plenty of cheering fans). More than 38,000 people took part in the marathon, half-marathon, 10K, 5K, and 2K family run/walk last year, and this year promises to be even more exciting with new routes for the longer races. The course changes will provide both urban and rural scenery, and will take runners through the areas of Chinatown and Little Italy, as well as along the historic Rideau Canal. If you’re not racing this year, grab a spot on the sidelines to watch the action unfold. For course and event information see www.runottawa.ca. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Prairie Scene Edition (April 29 to May 1)

The biannual festival, Prairie Scene, kicked off on April 26 and runs until May 8. With it comes a variety of events and performances, from gallery shows to concerts, and everything in between, for a festival that spans 500 artists, 80 events, and 13 days. In honour of this very Canadian event, we’ve put together a “Prairie Scene edition” of the Weekend Roundup.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet performs in "Wonderland." Photo credit: David Cooper.

Friday, April 29
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet does a grown-up take on Wonderland as part of the festival, complete with an electro-acoustic soundscape and edgy elements that bring this surreal story to life. Your favourite bizarre characters will all be on hand (think the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and that mischievous white rabbit). Also playing Saturday.

Eat your lunch early and head to the Prairie Lunch Series to catch JP Hoe in action (show begins at noon). This singer-songwriter walks the line between indie rock and alt-country, and you’ll get a good dose of sweet, melodic tunes and clear vocals.

A Place in the Prairies looks at the concept of place in stories about the prairies, from writers who know know this area of Canada well. It’s an evening of conversation with award-winning writers that include David Carpenter, Dianne Warren, Alissa York, and Connie Gault. (more…)