In its 34th year, the Festival Franco Ontarien is not only expanding, it’s returning to its ByWard Market roots.
The festival, which began in the ByWard Market, will expand from its Festival Plaza site to feature activities in the market this year, said Melany Gauvin, director of communications for the festival.
While the featured concerts, children‚s activities and the ferris wheel will remain at Festival Plaza, free activities, including performances by buskers and other street performances, will be located in the ByWard Market.
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“There is such a buzz here that it’s natural for us to come to the market,” said Gauvin. “It’s got a very European feel. Historically, the festival started in the market and moved to Major’s Hill Park and Vanier before going to Festival Plaza,” she said.
Held from June 11 to 14, this year’s festival has expanded from three to four days, said Gauvin.
In its third year, the annual Grand Parade is expected to draw thousands of spectators on June 13. The festival, which starts at 4:30 p.m., “is inspired by Frankenstein, sheep cloning and the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth” and features music, costumes and dance.
On the main Banque Nationale Stage, performers include Big Nazo, an international troupe of marionettes; Les JAAK barbershop quartet; percussion troupe Theatre a Tempo; LaboKracBOOM, a circus show inspired by children‚s books and Tambours du Burundi: les Remesha Drums.
Musicians include Lost Fingers; Claude Dubois, the Porn Flakes, who perform cover songs; and reggae legend Alpha Blondy, said Gauvin.
Between 40,000 and 45,000 people are expected to attend the festival.
While the Festival Franco Ontarien is the Francophone community's festival, everyone is welcome, said Gauvin. “In Ottawa, everyone has a colleague or an in-law or a cousin or a friend who is (Francophone).”
Tickets for the shows at Festival Plaza are $15 per night, or visitors can buy a bandana passport that will allow them entry into all shows all weekend for $20. These are available at the Librairie du Soleil bookstore in the ByWard Market and at all Banque Nationale branches.