Ah, September. It’s that magical time of year where the air is crisp, the leaves are starting to turn, and no-one wants to admit the summer is ending. Denial is more than just a river, folks. One thing I do like about Ottawa in September is the number of festivals that are jammed into those last warm days, which turn into evenings that prompt a familiar nostaliga about ‘sweather weather’.
Next weekend in #Ottcity is a big one. Aside from the first rendition of the rebranded City Folk music festival, there are a series of art-based happenings that should not be missed. Specifically, I’m talking about Chinatown Remixed during the day, and Nuit Blanche at night.
Taking place Saturday September 19, these two art festivals promise to liven the city’s landscape for a day. No longer, are we trembling in the wake of Montreal’s shadow! Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself, but there is something to be said for revisiting familiar, sometimes ordinary places which have been revitalized by art. That these transformations are temporary is part of the appeal.
Despite being on the same day, these two art events work in conjunction. Chinatown Remixed, is hosting avernissage (aka a sidewalk party) from 2 to 8 PM near the arch on Somerset W. with art installations, an activity, or a performance at each station. The initial art hunt encourages attendees to go from place to place while filling out a passport, and performances (including local bluegrass talent the Noisy Locomotive) concentrated in the Shanghai Restaurant parking lot after 5 PM. The great thing about this festival is that it’s family-friendly, with a variety of activities suited for explorers of all ages. Also, I’ve heard that obtaining stamps in the festival passport will enter you in a prize to win two Porter airlines tickets anywhere the airline flies.
The Art of Brewing
CT Remixed will be tapping into local brewing talents, Beau’s and Whitewater Brewery. While Beau’s haven’t revealed which of their many beers will be on tap, one can count on the Lug Tread lagered ale. The clear and crisp taste suits a variety of palets, and it imparts flavour without any bitterness. This easy drinking beer is sure to please, but the beer nerd in me is hoping to see a sneak preview of some of their Oktoberfest beers, brewed to serve at the annual festival at their brewery in Vankleek Hill. Some of these are created specifically for the event only and only seen once or twice a year, and provide an excellent incentive to make the trip for Oktoberfest.
Whitewater brewery will probably be slinging their Famer’s Daughter blonde ale, and the Whistling Paddler english-style ale. The former is a fun if generic beer, but the later sets itself apart through mild hops and a choclate hued barley flavour. Whitewater also offers a stout that I’ve enjoyed in the past, but I would be surprised to see them offer than on tap.
A big name in the art scene, Nuit Blanche has been curating a buzz since it’s inauguration in Ottawa three years ago. Beginning at dusk and theoretically going until dawn, this year’s festival offers a concentrated version, with more installations in the Byward Market. Stepping away from last year’s model, there won’t be much to see in Westboro/Hintonburg, but I think that’s a good step forward for the festival. Events such as Nuit Blanche require a high amount of foot traffic to organically take over the streets, and this will be better accomplished by placing more people in one area. However, there are some interesting looking pieces in our sister city, Gatineau. Don’t panic, there’s a free shuttle bus.
One of my favourite memories from a previous Nuit Blanche was visiting St. Brigid’s Center for the Arts, a building which used to host a Catholic Church but has since been taken over for more worldly pursuits. In this building during Nuit Blanche, I was able to buy AND drink a bottle of beer in a (former) church while checking out the exposition. It was fantastic. While the festival itself is alcohol free, there are plenty of watering holes around the market where you can quench your thirst in between exploring the art. Brothers Beer Bistro offers an impressive selection, and their knowledgeable staff are great for questions.
Wherever you find yourself this coming Saturday, take a moment to appreciate the art in everyday life. Ottawa’s artistic community is stepping up, and I hope to see lot of people out for the fun. If there are any expositions you’re looking forward to at either event, feel free to share in the comments!