Festivals offer something for everyone this weekend

South Asian Fest, Asinabka Film Festival and Uproar Arts Festival will offer a wide range of experiences this weekend.
Ottawa's South Asian Fest kicks off with a boat cruise, followed by nine days of eye-catching performances, sports events, panel discussions and delicious food. (TD South Asian Fest)

Ottawa is rich in festivals throughout the summer months.

Each event is unique, but they all extend an invitation to take a deep dive into theatre, music, art and culture, in the spirit of community.

A legacy continues

Ottawa's South Asian Fest kicks off with a boat cruise on Friday night, followed by nine days of eye-catching performances, sports events, panel discussions and plenty of mouth-watering dishes from the Indian subcontinent. 

Tragedy struck the community earlier this year, when the festival's founder and driving force Hunsdeep Rangar died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 43.

South Asian Fest artistic director Hunsdeep Rangar died in June from a heart attack. His brother Bundeep has stepped in to lead the event this summer. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

His older brother, Bundeep Rangar, who lives in England, has stepped in as director, dedicating this summer's event to the memory of Hundsdeep and his legacy of building bridges between communities.

"What Huns stood for was fun and community," said Rangar. "Making sure that families came together and community came together."

Highlights of the festival include:

  • A cricket match on the grounds of Rideau Hall on Sunday at noon.
  • An Indian food fest on Tuesday.
  • A Bollywood professional dance showcase at City Hall at 6 p.m. Friday.
  • An outdoor concert featuring Indian pop stars, folk dancers and DJs, in front of City Hall on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

"The festival's designed to be fun and festive with lots of food, lots of dancing and lots of singing," Rangar said.

South Asian food, drinks and sweets will play a big part in the festival. (Laura Howells/CBC)

"And our community loves chatting, so lots of chatting."

  • Where: Ottawa City Hall and various locations throughout the city.
  • When: Aug. 9 to 18.
  • Cost: Free (with the exception of some panel discussions).

Indigenous stories

Sharing stories, focusing on issues and showcasing the wide world of Indigenous experience through film, documentary, music, performance art and visual art. The eighth annual Asinabka Festival has gathered Indigenous artists and filmmakers from around the globe for screenings, provocative panel discussions, performances and gallery shows.

"It's about giving an insight, an insider's view," said Maori visual artist Natasha Keating, who is visiting from New Zealand.

Keating and Inuit filmmaker and artist Asinnajaq have teamed up for Matriarchs, a show of paintings and prints of strong women from Indigenous communities, at Enriched Bread Artists in Little Italy.

Award- winning films and documentaries, such as nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, a depiction of events following the death of Colton Boushie on a Saskatchewan farm in 2016 and his family's fight for justice will be screened at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

The film nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up screens Sunday at 7 p.m. in the Alma Duncan Salon at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

The brand new SAW Gallery at Arts Court will host the 2-Spirit Ball on Saturday night. The event will feature musicians and performance artists from the Indigenous LBGTQ community.

  • Where: Screenings take place at the Alma Duncan Salon at the Ottawa Art Gallery, 10 Daley Ave. The 2-Spirit Ball takes place at Club SAW at 67 Nicholas St.
  • When: The festival runs until Sunday evening.
  • Cost: Passes range from $5 to $10. Advance tickets for the 2-Spirit Ball are $20. Tickets are also available at the door.


Choreographer Allison Elizabeth Burns brings the contemporary dance work You're Never Fully Dressed to Uproar Arts Fest on Saturday at 2 p.m. (Pat Holloway)

A brand new theatre and art festival is taking over the Arts Court Theatre on Friday and Saturday. The Uproar Arts Fest proclaims itself as a showcase for loud, proud, feminist artists — and a safe, welcoming venue for women and non-binary artists of all kinds.

As the name suggests, this festival has attitude. Expect burlesque, stand up, theatrical satire and sassy musical performances. Local artistic dynamo Brenda Dunn will be on hand live sketching festival goers and events.

  • Where: Arts Court Theatre, 2 Daly Ave.
  • When: Friday beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday events start at 2 p.m.
  • Cost: Tickets for performances are $20 and can be purchased on the festival website here.


Sandra Abma


Sandra Abma is a veteran CBC arts journalist. If you have an event or idea you want to share, please do at


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