Ottawa’s Grey Cup Festival a party for everyone

20 Greenway, Trevor Oct 2017 Grey Cup  Andre Ringuette
Photo: The Ottawa REDBLACKS show off the Grey Cup during last year’s championship parade at TD Place in the Glebe. Photo: Courtesy of OSEG

By Trevor Greenway

If you think for one minute that the Grey Cup Festival is just a one-day celebration of football geared towards sports fans, think again. The Glebe is getting ready for the party of the century and RNation is inviting you, your friends and family to a week of revved-up fun in the Glebe November 21 – 26 leading up to Canada’s biggest sporting event: the Grey Cup.

“The whole city is just going to be this giant party for a whole week, which is the way it should be for a Grey Cup Festival,” says Grey Cup Festival Fan Ambassador Jeannine Ritchot. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

It’s clear that the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) is pulling out all the stops to create the ultimate fan experience at this year’s Grey Cup Festival presented by Shaw, with concerts featuring Sloan, Trooper, and Jess Moskaluke. Events such as the Capital Pride Grey Cup Party presented by You Can Play, a massive kids’ zone and scores of free activities will draw people from across the city and country to the festival – just as we turn the clock on Canada’s 150th celebration. It will be the first time Ottawa has hosted a Grey Cup game since 2004.

“If ever there was a Grey Cup Festival to see, I think it’s the one on Canada’s 150,” adds Ritchot. “The Grey Cup really is this quirky little week of Canadianity – there is nothing like it. You have fans from all nine teams who come together and they hang out. There are no rivalries, it’s this big, huge, ‘I Love Canada’ fest.”

The festival officially launches on Tuesday, November 21, when the coveted Grey Cup trophy arrives in Ottawa for a tour of the nation’s capital, kicking off a six-day celebration of Canadian sport, music and culture across the city. The Grey Cup Festival HQ opens Wednesday, November 22 at Lansdowne Park featuring live music, family entertainment, player appearances, autograph sessions and giveaways. The majority of the festival is free during the day with some low-cost ticketed events in the evenings.

Families can spend their days at the Family Fun Zone from Thursday to Saturday with miniature football fields and obstacle courses for kids to experience the iconic game that Canadians have embraced for over a century. Organizers are making this year’s festival as accessible as possible with over a dozen free events during the week both throughout the day and into the evening so that everyone can celebrate one of Canada’s favourite pastimes. A quick look at the schedule will give you an idea – RNation will be hitting all corners of the population with its wide array of activities – from the Gridiron Gals event and the CFLAA Legends Luncheon to team parties, country and alternative music nights and CFL team parties. There truly is something for everyone.

“If you want a chance to really see Canadians come together from across the country and put rivalries aside and just be together, you have to come and check out the festival,” says Ritchot. She admits to growing up as a Blue Bombers fan, but it didn’t take long for the REDBLACKS and their community spirit to win her over. “If you haven’t already fallen in love with this team, you will after you see this Grey Cup Festival.”

The Aberdeen Pavilion will be the official home of the Ottawa REDBLACKS team party. The three-day RNation party begins Thursday, November 23, while the Horticulture Building will be transformed into Riderville for two full days. Details on transit for festival events will be available at come November.

The festivities will certainly animate the area with local businesses airing the game and special programming planned for Bank Street.

“Thousands of Canadians from across the entire country will take part in this national celebration, and we want to roll out the red carpet,” says Glebe BIA executive director Andrew Peck. “We can’t wait to welcome others to our great neighbourhood and world-class city, and show off our Grey Cup champions.”

The 105th Grey Cup Festival will also feature several high profile ticketed events like the Shaw CFL Awards & Rev-Up Party for those who want the ultimate Grey Cup experience.

The Grey Cup Festival begins Tuesday, November 21, and runs until Sunday, November 26, when the Grey Cup Championship Game kicks off at TD Place.

Visit the website at for a full schedule of events and more information about the festival. You can also follow the hashtag #GreyCup or @GreyCupFestival on Twitter for updates.

Trevor Greenway is responsible for communications at the Glebe BIA (Business Improvement Area).

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