The capital city of Canada, Ottawa, is rich in history and activities for residents and visitors alike. Like any major city, the arts and culture of Ottawa are a large part of its appeal, and the vibrant music scene is one of the very best examples of this.
If you ever make a summer trip to Ottawa, it might be for its annual Ottawa Bluesfest. Now in its 23rd year, the RBC Bluesfest brings some of music’s biggest names and thousands of music fans out to Ottawa. This year’s iteration was the first to sell out in advance. With a lineup including funk rock legends Red Hot Chilli Peppers, country superstar Brad Paisley, and critically acclaimed rappers Future and Schoolboy Q, it’s not hard to see why.
That doesn’t mean Ottawa is only worth visiting for one big summer festival, however. Maybe you prefer more intimate spaces. If so, Ottawa is packed with music venues off the beaten path that you won’t be able to shut up about when talking to your friends. If you consider yourself something of a punk (or just want to cut loose in the mosh pit one night), visit Mavericks, where hardcore and metal shines.
Weary of the thought of getting bumped and bruised or simply prefer more mellow, feel-good music? Fear not! At Mercury Lounge, there is a great deal of laid-back, low-key performers. If you have had an active night out on the town and just want to kick back a bit before calling it a night, have a lounge at the Mercury Lounge.
Few things go hand in hand like music and dancing, and Ottawa has events that’ll make you dance like there’s no tomorrow. Zaphod Beeblebrox, while not exclusively a dance club, has Electric Ballroom with DJ Floodzi every Saturday, and, it’s safe to say, the best name for a music venue you’ve ever heard. Another hot dance spot in the city is Babylon, with DJ nights dedicated to Kanye West, Drake, Beyonce, Rihanna, and others.
Are you a music fan on a budget, or one who loves the idea of catching something under the radar, years before they get big? Check out a show at Cafe Dekcur. Here you can catch a great deal of local Ottawa bands for a price that does not break the bank. A lineup of 4-5 bands typically costs around $10. You don’t need to be a master of math to know that’s a great deal.
The best thing that can be said about the music scene in Ottawa is how diverse it is. Not only is the city widespread in terms of music venues and genres featured, but so are the venues and events themselves. Just look at the lineup for the annual Ottawa Bluesfest and how many genres it spans and you’ll see what we mean. If you are a music fan who wants a new city to explore, consider taking a trip up to Ottawa sometime in the very near future.