Rideau Canal Festival

 by Zach The Rideau Canal is 202 kilometers long, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and now it has its own party. Well, to be accurate, it’s had its own party for four years now. This year the Rideau Canal Festival is on from July 28 to August 2, and it’s in full swing.

I stopped by with my two kids, the girl (4) and the boy (2) on a really, really hot Saturday afternoon, July 30. We visited the Confederation Park site at about 1:30pm, right in the middle of the children’s activities held that day from 12:00 to 3:00. We were practically on time, by our standards.

The festival isn’t just at Confederation Park, though. There are activities at the Bytown Museum / Ottawa Locks site, and the Dows Lake Pavilion, so there’s plenty to do. Check their website at www.rideaucanalfestival.ca for detailed scheduling information.

The fee for entry into the Confederation park for adults is $5, but kids under 12 are free, so it was still a pretty cheap deal for us. The pathways around the main green are lined with a variety of booths, there’s a main stage, and, when we were there, a number of entertainers were making their rounds on foot.

The crowd was pretty thin at first, maybe because of the high temperatures in the middle of the day, but there were still kids clustered around the Scottish-accented stilt walker / juggler / comedian. The girl watched for a bit while the boy napped in the stroller, and then we moved on – I don’t think she quite knew what to make of a ten-foot high man in tartan tossing juggling clubs in the air.

We bumped right into a balloon animal artist, who whipped up a dog on a leash for the girl and a monkey in a tree for the boy. A face painter was also on hand, and the girl got a sparkly butterfly on her arm and the boy got a rocket ship on his face (at least until they went swimming later that afternoon…).

We were right in time for Irish dancing, performed by students of Trillium Academy of Irish Dance. The girl loves watching dancing, so she sat on the green in the sun for a while and watched, while I stood behind her and tried to use my shadow to try to keep her cool(er).

The Ottawa Art Gallery has a small tent set up with loads of markers, paper, paint, and stencils for on-the-spot masterpieces. The boy and girl had never used stencils before, and they started producing pictures like an assembly line.

We checked out a few of the exhibitors at the Energy Ottawa Ecosphere Environmental Fair, though I think the boy was more excited to be in a really big tent than to learn about recycling electronics in an environmentally responsible way. We got going just as a band started to get going, though we were able to listen to the music for a long time as we walked back home.

Zach is a dad to a four year old girl and two year old boy. He sometimes blogs. He is often blogged about by his wife over at Capital Mom.