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Arboretum Festival // Ottawa, Ontario // 8.18-19.17

Article and Photos By: Adrienne Row – Smith


Ottawa, Ontario – For the fifth time, Arboretum Festival delivered a spectacular two days of music, food, and drink. Changing up its location from the core of downtown Ottawa, Arboretum embraced its nature namesake and headed out to the countryside onto the farmland of Rideau Pines Farm.

Arboretum Festival sets itself apart from other music fests that happen in the city (such as City Folk Fest, Bluesfest and Jazz Fest to name a few), by paying attention not only to the acts that they get, but also to the food, drink, and aesthetics of the festival itself. Every detail was thoroughly thought out, even when mud made it impossible to use one of the stages, they had a backup plan. This was exemplified in the festival using left over pamphlets from previous years to help decorate the two remaining stages. These small details showed the level of dedication of the Arboretum team.  When it came to the food, it was all locally sourced; featuring food from local restaurants like Six One {Ate}, House of Targ, and even provided patrons the option of picking their own fruits and veggies courtesy of Rideau Pines Farm! For drinks, the festival relied upon local brewers Beyond The Pale, Buchi Pop and Top Shelf, who all provided delicious beverages.

However, a music festival cannot exist without its music, and Arboretum delivered with this year’s line up. Featuring a mix of international, national and local talent, Arboretum Festival provided a platform to discover the blooming talent of Ottawa but also providing well-known acts for patrons to sing along with. On one day you could catch New York City’s Le1f tearing up the main stage (Forest Stage)  with a flurry of kicks, vogue-ing and some serious rapping chops, while on the other you could head over to the Bang Bang Barn and catch the amazing harmonic talent of local’s Future States. This diverse line up not only allowed music lovers of all genres to have a good time but also allowed the artists to show off, as many of the artists were seen playing several sets together. For example, when Cedric Noel helped out Isaac Vallentin on the bass, or when Gianna Lauren joined Noel to do some guest vocals, it showed the camaraderie and many talents of the all the artists.

Headliner Deerhoof’s drummer Greg Saunier summed up the festival perfectly during a break in their set when he said, “that music is meant to nourish and be enjoyed” and that Arboretum festival did just that, and made it an experience to remember.


Adrienne Row-Smith
Adrienne is a photographer based in Ottawa, Canada and has been photographing local bands since she was in high school. Her passion to support her local scene, as well as the bands that come through Ottawa, is matched only by her devotion to philosophy and satirical writing. Instagram: AdrienneRSPhoto Twitter: AdrienneRSPhoto

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