Ottawa's Busker Festival

[Ottawa's Busker Festival Street Scenes]

So, it's high summer time on Parliament Hill and you've just toured the Parliament Buildings and watched the Changing of the Guard. Are you ready for something more casual now? Stroll one block south (one block north and you'll be in the Ottawa River) to the Sparks Street Mall. For five days, running through the August civic holiday, you'll be in the middle of a lot of laid-back fun.

The Sparks Street Mall International Busker Festival is the second-largest busker festival in Canada, second only to the event that Halifax hosts. [The Junkyard Symphony] Jugglers, comedians, storytellers, fire-eaters, mimes, musicians, magicians, and the "Mechanical Man" have come from Canada, the United States, Britain, Europe, Australia, and South America. Local talent shines, too. Ottawa's Junkyard Symphony has been a hit for several years, making music from old pots and pans and, yes, even the kitchen sink.

The action starts at 11:00 in the morning, and performances carry on through the day and evening and sometimes well after midnight, as long as there's a crowd to watch, applaud, and show their appreciation more tangibly ~ your contributions are how buskers earn their living. The festival's last day is the "best of the show "finale.

[A Spark's Street Performer]

Sparks Street has been part of Ottawa's history since there was an Ottawa. In 1821 Nicholas Sparks paid 95 British Pounds for 200 acres of land (and then it took him almost a decade to get clear title to it); Bytown, which grew up to become Ottawa, didn't start to appear until 1826.

Trees, flowers, fountains, sculptures, benches, outdoor cafes, outdoor mini-markets, indoor restaurants, stores, boutiques ~ the mall prides itself on being a people place, an opinion that three million tourists a year seem to share. And if you miss the busker festival, don't worry, you'll still be able to enjoy music and other special events and that universal recreation ~ people watching! [Ottawa Busker Festival Street Scene]

For more information, contact the Sparks Street Mall Management Board, 2nd Floor, 151 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5E3; phone (613) 230-0984; fax (613) 230-7671. Photos courtesy of the Sparks Street Mall Management Board.

Your comments are welcome at dhaaheim at telus dot net

Http:// -- Revised: May 29, 2008
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