Ottawa comes to life for a weekend of festivals

The summer festival season in Ottawa kicked off this weekend with thousands gathering for events across the city.

Many in attendance are looking to get back to a sense of normal, not seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

At Ottawa’s Jazz Festival, people were taking a minute to dance and celebrate the return of the event to Confederation Park.

"It’s really nice to get back out there and see that Ottawa can be a vibrant city and just get into it," said Kabir Bhatia, who was enjoying the event on Saturday afternoon. 

For Bhatia, life is starting to feel like it did pre-pandemic.

"I’m concerned about COVID, but I’m triple vaccinated," said Bhatia. "At the end of the day, I’m looking to live my life to the fullest so I’m excited to be here, but I’m obviously taking my precautions."

At Mooney’s Bay Beach, the Ottawa Dragon Boat Race Festival was back for the first time in years.

"It’s nice to see all the energy and meet people who are finally back out paddling," said Joan Barrett, who was at the event on Saturday.

A jubilant atmosphere of paddlers who were ramping up for the first race in years. 

"It’s nice to be able to have a dragon boat festival in person again," said William Sagle, who was watching his friend compete. "I think it’s important for the racers to be able to come out and race some of the best competitors in their field."

Meanwhile, the electronic music festival Escapade brought in people from all over the province and Quebec.

The three-day concert is being held at Lansdowne Park and TD Place in the Glebe.

On Bank Street, artists gathered for the Cranium Festival.

"It’s an opportunity to network and have conversations about producing and what’s going on in the music industry right now," said Naledi Sunstrum, who is an artist.

The group showing support for each other, but not without acknowledging the challenges the pandemic brought the industry.

"It’s almost like we are learning again how to communicate with each other after two years of lockdowns and two years of isolation," said Sunstrum.