By Stephanie On Tuesday, May 28, my 4-year-old son and I attended the opening night event of the Ottawa International Children's Festival - thanks to Kids In The Capital. It was our first time at the festival and, I must admit, the first time I actually heard of the festival. I learned on Tuesday that its first edition was in 1985 and that this is the only festival dedicated to performing arts for children in Ontario.
The show we attended on Tuesday night was Step Afrika! from the USA. It is a dancing performance featuring stepping and African gumboot. There are no music instruments, but the entire human body is used as an instrument, which is very impressive. The performances were great, funny and VERY interactive. At one point during the show, a lesson of stepping was given, and the audience had to reproduce dance footsteps and hand claps. Everybody loved that part - although I must say I was a bit scared of the shaking seats in the stands. Both my son and myself really enjoyed the show and he danced the whole time. I would recommend it for any 4-year old kid and older, but no babies because the show is loud.
After the show, there was a reception to commemorate the opening of the festival. I was very impressed by the organizers' nice little touches to entertain the kids: snacks in a glass and bottles to make bubbles. You can tell their focus is really on the children.
The festival is on until Sunday on Breton flats and there are a lot of different shows, as well as many free activities on the site. Not all the exhibits were ready on Tuesday evening but I did have a peek at the Dynamic maze that was in the process of being built, and it seems pretty cool with dozens of big exercises balls. Even if you're not attending a show, it's definitely worth it to go to the festival to participate in some of the many activities and perhaps, if the weather is nice, to have a picnic on site.
Stéphanie moved to Ottawa about 10 years ago from the south shore of Montréal. She usually works as an analyst for the federal government but is currently on maternity leave to take care of a 4-year old boy (Paul) and 8 month baby girl (Emy).