Arboretum Festival relishes local music and food

By Liz McKeen


The first thing you should know is, the Arboretum Festival is not held at the Experimental Farm’s Arboretum – so don’t go to the Farm expecting anything but lovely trees.

But if it’s music and food and art you want, the Arboretum Festival has lots to offer. Launched in 2012, the festival brings us local, new music, as well as local food and progressive art. It has grown from a one-day event to a multi-day music festival and cultural celebration. This year’s festival takes place outdoors from August 18 to 23, once again on the grounds of historic Arts Court, 2 Daly Avenue.

An alternative to Ottawa’s traditional festival culture, Arboretum aims to showcase Ottawa’s emerging music and media art, and also takes a keen interest in local gastronomy. For example, on Friday, August 22, chef Steve Mitton of Murray Street will offer roast pork on a spit and barbequed corn on the cob at the Backlot Barbeque, while chef Marc Doiron of Town will bring fruit cobbler, banana cream s’mores and lemon meringue cupcakes. Other gastronomic goodies will be provided by Gong Fu Bao, Ottawa STREAT Gourmet and The Merry Dairy food trucks.

But the big draw is the music. This year’s lineup includes Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars, the Hilotrons, Fiftymen, PS I Love You, The Yips, Adam Saikaley Trio, Constantines, Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene and more. An all-week festival pass ($50 plus HST) will give you access to the Arboretum weekend outdoor stage as well as all showcase venues and after parties. Or you can buy a Friday main stage pass for $25 plus HST, which also gets you into the Backlot Barbeque, or a Saturday main stage pass for $30 plus HST. Passes are available online (with fees) at, or from Vertigo Records (193 Rideau Street), Antique Skate Shop (9 Florence), or Compact Music (785 Bank or 1-206 Bank).

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