By Abdelkader Bouaziz
Festivals are a unique and exceptional moment that brings people together around a culture,an opportunity to live a fragment of life of a different community, and a way for people to have deeper conversations about culture; and Ottawa has perfected the art of the festival.
Because of its ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity (Chinese represent 15.58%, Other Asian origin 23.64%, Arabe 17.60%), Ottawa has become a very vibrant cosmopolitan center. The city is growing culturally; all its citizens get together and celebrate different cultures.
Last July 20th 2018, it was the 28 years in the running for the Lebanese festival at the backyard of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral. Children and their parents sneak in the middle of a large crowd to participate in the rides, carousel, and different games in the wide variety of dishes and beverages. Everybody was enjoying the Dabkeh دبكة (traditional Arab folk dance), the music, and especially the food: Hummus, Tabbouleh, Kibbeh, Falafel, Fattoush,… one particular speciality does not go unnoticed: the Saj bread. A thin dough baked right in front of you, fresh and hot on a domed griddle, and in which we spread Labneh, you would enjoy but not before doing a line-up that can goes for half an hour!
Ottawa Asian Fest | Food Festival and Night Market
The week after, for the 3rd year in the row, Chinatown brought back the unique Asian Night Market to the Nation’s Capital. Each country has its traditional morning market, but in Asia, there is another form of market that happens in the night. The function of the night markets is a recreation compared to that of the morning markets.
What strikes visitors first is most likely the different smells of food and the smokes we can notice while walking around the Ottawa Chinatown Royal Arch: from the hot squids on a stick; to the infamous Hong Kong Stinky Tofu; to the Japanese savoury pancakes Okonomiyaki Osaka; to the tasty spiral taro on a stick, and not to mention the Barbecued Lamb skewers from Mongolia, with always a long line up: for $20, you would have 4 big “spicy” tasty skewers of Halal Lamb. It’s worth it!
There were music performances but the street food is the big highlight!
The “Indonesian Fashion in Ottawa”, lasted three days and ended on July 29th. It was an opportunity to attend the fashion show, traditional music as well as the typical Indonesian culinary and snack market.
The event took place in the Horticulture Building, Lansdowne Park, and the work of Indonesian designers, who brought Batik (a fabric filled with Indonesian ancestral know-how) to the world fashion scene, was widely praised, presenting daring designs with vibrant colors.
While hopping from a kiosk to another and watching the fashion parades on the main stage of the festival, visitors enjoyed the typical Indonesian cuisine such as Rendang, Satay, Nasi Goreng, dumplings and the delicious Beras Kencur beverage.
Festivals have this ability to expand people’s horizons and experience cultures, clothes, music and food from different countries.
It’s about appreciating the distinct character of the different other nationalities, with their history, their food, their language and more generally their culture as well as ours. It’s also a wonderful way to feel at home while we are far away from home.
I’m looking forward to the next coming Ottawa festivals!
 Ottawa Greek Festival
Event Date: Aug 9, 2018 – Aug 19, 2018
Location: 1315 Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K2C 1N2
Great India Festival (TGIF) a premier cultural annual event here in Ottawa.
Event Date: Aug 10, 2018 – Aug 12, 2018
Location: Ottawa City Hall
Event Date: Aug 10, 2018 – Aug 19, 2018
Location: Various locations in Ottawa