During its three-day festival each June, Carnival of Cultures proudly showcases more than 20 different countries. Represented by over 40 organizations and 400 performers, Ottawa’s folk arts community offers the Nation’s Capital a taste of folkloric music, song and dance traditions that hail from countries around the world.
Carnival of Cultures allows Ottawa’s dynamic community of artists to share and promote folkloric music and dance works that are anchored in old-world traditions and those that are the fruit of new contemporary creations. Together, authentic and transformed art forms contribute to the longevity of the folk arts by making them visible and accessible to the general public.
- Festival Organizer Tony Yazbek
The festival presents as many as 50 stage performances throughout the weekend, along with dance and music demonstrations, storytelling sessions, dedicated programming for schools, cultural exhibits and international cuisine flavours served up by local businesses.
History of Carnival of Cultures
Carnival of Cultures was founded in 1992 for the purpose of sharing, promoting and disseminating the wealth of folkloric arts alive in the National Capital Region. The festival began as a decentralized event with several participating countries taking leadership roles in organizing and animating various designated venues throughout the city. These venues were called pavilions and were identified by capital cities of participating countries. An international passport allowed festival goers to travel around the world in just three days.
In 1995, the festival moved to Festival Plaza in front of Ottawa City Hall for a two-year duration before relocating to the picturesque Astrolabe Theatre where it made its home between 1997 and 2008. The National Capital Commission’s renovation project of the site forced Carnival of Cultures to move to Vincent Massey Park in 2009 before finding its way back to Marion Dewar Plaza, (formerly Festival Plaza) in 2010.
The festival is celebrating an important milestone in 2013 with its 20th Anniversary. This year also marks the beginning of the sponsorship of the opening ceremonies by a different host embassy each year, with the Embassy of Colombia spotlighting the culture of that country and the ongoing friendship between Canada and Colombia.
Carnival of Cultures has celebrated the culture of countries such as:
Argentina, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Canada, Chili, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.
- P.O. Box 7238, Ottawa, Ontario, K1L 8E3
- Tel: (613) 742-6952
- Please submit forms by email or regular mail. Should you have questions or need additional information about the festival, please don't hesitate to contact us.