Little summer fests that can

| June 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

No question about it: Bluesfest, Chamberfest, CityFolk (the new name for the Ottawa Folk Festival) are big and fun. Myriad performers, multiple stages, throngs of joyful fans — it’s summer in the city to the max.
But more modest festivals, whether spotlighting music, puppets or something else entirely, also abound and offer a different experience.

“It’s the intimacy, the closeness you don’t feel at larger festivals,” that draws folks to smaller events, says John McKenty of Perth’s long-running Stewart Park music festival. There’s that, plus the chance to chat with the artists and maybe visit places, whether in Ottawa or in the Valley, that you might not otherwise see.
Here’s a sampling of other festivals:

Kingdom of Osgoode Medieval Festival

The Kingdom of Osgoode Medieval Festival features a medieval market and actual jousting. (Photo: Kingdom of Osgoode Medieval Festival)

Kingdom of Osgoode Medieval Festival,
Osgoode, July 11-12, 5673 Main St.
No really, it’s true: There’s a festival that includes jousting (The Knights of Valour on horseback), dancing (definitely not twerking), a murder mystery (Brother Cantfail is the sleuth), and a medieval market (includes chainmail jewelry). Tickets: starting at $6. 613-443-9090.

Stewart Park Festival
Perth, July 17-19
Dave Gunning, Catherine MacLellan (her latest album, The Raven’s Sun, is receiving accolades) and the Boxcar Boys join a host of other musicians for this fest on the banks of the Tay River. There are three stages this year, one of them licensed. Tickets: daytime, by donation; $10-$20 for evening shows at indoor venues.

Kemptville Live Musical Festival
Kemptville, July 24-26
It’s just debuting, but this upstart festival of country, rock, roots and blues on the grounds of Kemptville College hasn’t stinted on talent. Tom Cochrane, Murray McLauchlan, Lynn Miles and Monkey Junk — all Juno winners — number among the performers. Kemptville food tip: sausage rolls at Grahame’s Bakery and butter tarts at The Crusty Baker. Tickets: from $20.

Bytown Days
Rideau Canal Locks by the Bytown Museum, July 30-Aug. 3
The newly expanded festival (from one day to four) celebrates the building of the canal and Bytown with everything from heritage food and music to guided tours. This year, look for increased attention to Francophone and aboriginal communities. Includes free admission to that little gem, the Bytown Museum. Tickets: some free, some ticketed events. 1-844-256-2466.

Merrickville, Aug. 1-3, Blockhouse Park
A celebration of the marvelous Rideau Canal system, this shindig at Blockhouse Park features live music (Celtic, jazz and rock), clowns, crafts and Voyageur canoe rides to the Rideau Bird Sanctuary. The Blockhouse Museum is an unassuming delight. Tickets: free (donation at museum).

Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival,
Almonte, Aug. 7-9
Always sizable in personality, puppets commandeer Almonte for this colourful festival. Parades, a workshop and 12 puppet shows make the festival a family affair. Look for sock puppets, marionettes and some bigger guys. Day passes: from $10.

Calabogie Blues & Ribfest
Calabogie Peaks Resort, Aug. 14-16
Ribs and the blues: a union made in heaven. Heck, you can even camp at the resort. This year’s lineup includes easy-going Keb’ Mo’, electric blues vocalist Shemekia Copeland, and Toronto’s Juno-toting blues-roots boys, Fathead. Tickets: from $21.25. 1-800-669-4861.

Lumière Festival combines lantern light, live entertainment and a family atmosphere. (Photo: Lumière Festival)

Lumière Festival combines lantern light, live entertainment and a family atmosphere. (Photo: Lumière Festival)

Lumière Festival
Ottawa, Aug. 15
Lantern light, live entertainment and a family atmosphere transform New Edinburgh Park into a late-summer spectacle each year. Attend a pre-festival lantern-making workshop and then bring your creation to the festival, where the lantern theme this year is super-heroes. Tickets: free (donation to performers). 613-745-2742.

House of PainT
Ottawa, Sept. 10-14
Journey under the Bronson Overpass (AKA the Dunbar Bridge) near Carleton University to join the 12th annual incarnation of this hip-hop festival toasting urban arts and culture. Look for graffiti artists, DJs and MCs, break dancing, a barbecue, a kids’ corner and workshops. Tickets: Saturday, free; charge possible for some other events.

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