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Road Trip to These Musical Joints July 5 – 15 Instead of Going to Bluesfest

The summer months in Ottawa usually mean long days at Mooney’s Bay, fresh vegetables from the Byward Market, and of course, Bluesfest. With names like Kanye West, Migos, P!nk, and Childish Gambino having hit the stage at Lebreton Flats in the past, I think we were all expecting another great festival. However, this year’s lineup is pretty disappointing for a lot of people and leaves a lot to be desired. But don’t fret! I’m here to give you a handful of fun things you and your pals can do instead of Bluesfest this year.

1. July 13 – 15: Road Trip to Guelph for the Hillside Summer Festival

If you’re into more indie/alternative music and are looking to get away from the city for a couple days, then this is the trip for you! Hillside is a not-for-profit music festival that showcases many talented artists while emphasizing diversity of culture, musical heritage, style, age, geography, and influence. One of the most incredible parts of this festival is the green initiatives that they have put into place in order to really reduce the large amount of waste these types of events often create. They sell reusable dishes and use solar power to heat their water, just to name a couple. In the past, they’ve had incredible artists like Charlotte Day Wilson and Xavier Rudd so don’t miss it!

2. June 28 – July 7: Get Jazzy in MTL

The Festival International de Jazz de Montreal is ranked by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest jazz festival so even if you’re not a huge fan of the genre, there’s bound to be an artist (or ten) that you can vibe with. One of my personal favourite artists, a young Toronto man who has recently blown up, Daniel Caesar, will be there on July 2. I definitely recommend catching his show if you have the chance! Plus, there are over 60,000 litres of beer and 2,500 kilos of fries served at the festival every year so if you’re really not enjoying yourself, grab a Corona and some poutine as a little pick-me-up. Basically what I’m saying is if you’re not into Machine Gun Kelly or Shawn Mendes, ditch the Ottawa blues for some Montreal jazz!

3. June 20 – August 5: Feel Wicked in Toronto

The award-winning musical Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz is coming to the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto this summer! If you already told your manager you won’t be available the first two weeks of July because you were planning on going to Bluesfest, this is the perfect way to take advantage of that time off. Plan a week with your boo or homegirls in Toronto and hit up this amazing Broadway show while you’re there. One USA Today reporter said that it was “(t)he most complete, and completely satisfying, musical I’ve come across in a long time.” Therefore, there’s no way you’ll be disappointed with this lineup of talent.

4. July 12 – 15: Head to London (Not England, Sadly) and Rock the Park

This southwestern Ontario city’s music festival is serving up some old school artists in their lineup this year. The full lineup is still yet to be released but so far we know that Shaggy will also be there, along with Boyz II Men, Sisqo, and Coolio. If you’re craving to be back in the 90s, the land of overalls and landlines, then the Rock the Park Music Festival will likely be more up your alley. How fun would it be to dress up like you’re Rachel Green or a Coachella babe and vibe out to Gangsta’s Paradise?

Bonus idea: If you don’t have the money or time to travel to a different music festival, you can always use the time to try out some new restaurants in Ottawa. Better yet, grab a bite to eat then head to Parliament Hill for the annual Northern Lights (and sound) show that runs every night from July 9 – September 3.

Okay, if you really hate all my ideas, just set up a projector in your basement and play all the snapchats from Bluesfest’s past. It’ll be just like you’re there except you’ll actually get to see all your favourite artists (plus one beer won’t set you back $10).


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