Virtual Marvest, haunted Lansdowne and Glebe Spree highlight fall in the Glebe

The 2020 virtual edition of Marvest will bring a mix of folk, funk and rock to the airwaves for 15 weeks beginning in October.   Photo: Chris Chitaroni

By Trevor Greenway

Many of you may not be looking forward to the next few months, worried about what a second wave of COVID-19 could do to the community.

But there is a lot to be excited about this fall, from weekend Farmers’ Markets and a 15-week virtual music festival to a haunted attraction that promises to scare the living daylights out of you.

The fun starts with the 2020 virtual edition of Marvest, the Glebe’s signature music festival that typically draws more than 25,000 music fans for two days of local tunes. This year, the fest is going virtual with 15 weekly concerts by some of the region’s most exciting emerging talents. The concerts will feature everything from folk and alt country to indie rock, jazz, funk fusion and more. Catch compelling performances from the likes of Mia Kelly, The Lionyls and Tara Shannon on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

“It was very important for us to maintain the event, even if it meant adapting creatively to these strange and trying circumstances,” says CityFolk programming coordinator Emma Francis. “It also continues to be a space to showcase emerging Ottawa musicians, as well as more established musicians interested in a one-of-a-kind performance opportunity.

“In a time when many local musicians have had to stop playing as a result of the pandemic – be it cancelled performances at venues, shifting personal circumstances or even having to focus on being at-home teachers to their little ones – we wanted to offer a space to perform again, safely.”

While we will miss packing the usual Glebe venues like The Clocktower, Capital Barbershop and The Papery, you can still support these businesses during the festival by ordering takeout, stopping by for a haircut or buying a gift card.

Marvest kicks off during the week of October 12 with a performance by Andrew Waines. Stay tuned for the full schedule.

If you’re afraid of anything this fall, it should be the fright fest taking over Lansdowne. Saunders Farm promises that the haunted attraction on the Great Lawn will be “the largest, longest, most terrifying walking experience” it has ever produced. Saunders Farm owner Mark Saunders says that if The Exorcist is a 10 on the fright scale, the SAWMILL will be an eight or a nine.

“The SAWMILL will be right up there with our scariest attractions on the Farm,” says Saunders. It will be a bit too intense for children under 12, he warns, but a thrill for adults, teens and tweens.

The haunted walk will expose guests to the latest in scare technology, live actors and a creepy story about a lost colony of millworkers from the early Bytown days who were discovered deep beneath the south stands. Visit for tickets.

“We spent two years preparing for the launch of the SAWMILL in partnership with OSEG and, regardless of COVID-19, we are very excited,” says Saunders, noting that the attraction will adhere to social distancing rules and other local health guidelines. “What people need now, more than ever, is a safe space to enjoy time outside with their loved ones, to make memories together and to keep their spirits high.”

Once the scaring is done, those who want to do Christmas shopping a little early this year will be happy to learn that Glebe Spree is back this holiday season, along with a chance to win a $10,000 shopping spree in the neighbourhood. This year’s contest will also feature a $2,500 early-bird prize as well as scores of instant-win prizes.

“Glebe Spree has never been more important to our neighbourhood than it is this year,” says Glebe BIA executive director Andrew Peck. “Our businesses and the local economy need community support more than ever. The contest encourages people to shop locally during our most important shopping season.”

Glebe Spree runs from November 15 to December 31 and will lead into the Ottawa Christmas Market at Lansdowne, where scores of merchants will set up in the Casino Lac Leamy Square to sell their holiday wares. The square will also feature local performances, outdoor fire pits and visits from Santa throughout December. Stay tuned for more details.

Amid the prospect of more restrictions as COVID cases increase, our small businesses, artists, chefs and service providers need our help. Small businesses are the lifeblood of any community – let’s all do our part to make sure that blood keeps flowing. We’re all in this together, and the only way through it is together.

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

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