The city’s first zero-footprint festival is back.

But carbon neutrality isn’t the only reason to attend. Neither is the fact that the festival won — in its first year, no less — the title of Ontario’s best new festival in 2008.

Ottawans will find plenty to do at the Rideau Canal Festival while celebrating the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation of the Rideau Canal.

To be held July 31-Aug. 3, the 2009 edition of the festival will again “Aim for Zero Footprint” — the theme of this year’s celebration — with activities including the Energy Ottawa’s Green Rendezvous, an Ecosphere environmental fair; a Green Speakers Series and the Enbridge Buy Local Barbecue Challenge.

“The environmental fair, with its eco-speaker series, really presents the festival as a carbon-neutral festival,” said Henry Storgaard, chairman of the Rideau Canal Festival. “We’re making the same commitment this year to a zero-footprint festival.”

For the first time, the festival will be collaborating with the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival for the Musical Breeze Parade of Bicycles, said Storgaard.

This year’s festival also includes a new educational component.

Through the Rideau Canal Connection Project, more than 600 students from Vincent Massey School here and Georges Vanier Catholic Fine Arts School in Saskatoon created artwork that will be featured on OC Transpo buses.

The Adopt-A-Metre program is also returning, offering members of the public and corporate sector the chance to adopt a piece of the Rideau Canal for $20. The donation will help offset carbon emissions.

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