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Photo from the Arboretum Festival Facebook page.

5 reasons you won’t want to miss #ARB2015!

By Kabriya Coghlan on August 17, 2015

Arboretum Festival kicks off this Wednesday and promises to be an intimate music festival, bringing together new and emerging artists from around the region as well as critically acclaimed Canadian artists, all here in Ottawa. The festival will be taking place at two locations: St. Alban’s Anglican Church on Wednesday and Thursday nights and Albert Island on Friday and Saturday nights.

Apartment613 chatted with Rolf Klausener, one of the festival’s organizers, to get an idea of what we can expect this year. Here are the top five reasons you won’t want to miss out on this unique festival experience:

1. The Music Line-Up

The music performances are definitely a big draw for Arboretum, and the line-up this year is incredibly diverse. No matter what your taste in music, there should be something for everybody, and you’re bound to walk away having discovered some great new artists.

Weights & Measures. Photo courtesy of Arboretum Festival.

Weights & Measures. Photo courtesy of Arboretum Festival.

Queer Songbook Orchestra, an 11-piece chamber pop ensemble from Montreal, will start things off Wednesday night.  On Thursday, Laurie Brown from CBC Radio is hosting a night of experimental music that features Julianna Barwick and Ottawa’s own Flying Hórses.

Friday night’s shows include BRAIDS, an art-pop group from Calgary, and Ottawa’s New Swears. Saturday will be headlined by electronica band Austra, from Toronto. Saturday will also include Weights & Measures, bringing a bit of punk to the lineup, as well as U.S. Girls, Hayden, and plenty more.

The full festival line-up and schedule can be found here.

Klausener explained that this year the organizers tried to bring some gender balance to the line-up. “The last few years, we’ve really felt like a lot of music festival line-ups are really male-centric,” he said. This year, they tried to push their line-up to include more than 50% female-led or female-inclusive acts for greater diversity.

2. The New Venue

Friday and Saturday night will be hosted at a brand new location: Albert Island on the Ottawa River. The warehouse on the island will feature art and light installations from the ASINABKA Aboriginal  Film & Media Arts Festival that are sure to create a unique atmosphere. There are also perks to partying in a venue that’s so isolated.

“We get to be outdoors until 2 am this year on the island, so it’s really going to be a pretty festive atmosphere,” Klausener said. This means that the festival is hosting extra-late after parties on Friday and Saturday night.

However, the choice of Albert Island as a venue for the festival has been controversial. The land has a significant history with the Algonquin First Nations community, and there has been opposition to development in the Outaouais region. Arboretum Festival posted about this issue earlier in the year and explained the consultations they took when they found out about this. Their solution was to bring the issue to the forefront of their festival panel discussions. Which leads us to #3…

3. The Free Panel Discussions

Arboretum is a festival that’s about more than just music – this year especially, it’s also about raising awareness and engaging the community.

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On Saturday, the festival will host different free talks, most notably a panel called “UNCEDED OTTAWA: The Algonquin and the Outaouais.” Arboretum describes the panel as an opportunity to “hear ideas from a grand body of thought regarding our nation’s past, the land, the water, development, and how we can move society as a whole towards a more egalitarian and compassionate present.”

Panelists will include Chief Kirby Whiteduck from the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, poet and writer Albert Dumont from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Verna McGregor from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, and Josée Bourgeois, a pow wow dancer from Memengweshii Council.

“What we’re excited about this year is we’re really taking our panel discussions to a much more significant level and hoping to really educate our audience on some really important and vital bits of information about the Algonquin community and the First Nations community in the Ottawa-Gatineau area,” Klausener said.

Other panels at the festival on Saturday will include “IF YOU BUILD IT: Cultural, Social and Environmental Responsibility in Modern Development” and “ISLANDS IN THE STREAM.”

Photo courtesy of Liz Mok of Moo Shu Ice Cream.

Photo courtesy of Liz Mok of Moo Shu Ice Cream.

4. All Kinds of Fun Food

Arboretum is offering a mix of restaurant and street food this year, so you certainly won’t be going hungry while you’re at the festival. There will be a backlot-style BBQ, including a pig roast, prepared by chef Steve Mitton from Murray Street on Friday night, and more BBQ food on Saturday by chef Steven Harris from Two six {ate}. Arboretum will also have stone oven pizza from Big Papi’s Wood Fire Pizza, homemade ice cream from Moo Shu, and Beau’s beer onsite.

“The food element is going to be really fun this year,” Klausener said.

5. A One-of-a-kind Celebration

Most of all, Arboretum looks like an exciting festival this year because it’s something entirely unique, with an intimate setting, engaging discussions about issues that need more awareness, an amazingly diverse line-up of music, and crazy warehouse after parties.

“My dream, my hope, is that we manage to create a greater sense of awareness at the festival about the complexities and the issues around the site…but then also, I’m really excited about the idea of somehow also having it be celebratory and having it be a really positive experience for everyone,” Klausener said.

Can’t wait!

Arboretum Festival is happening from Wednesday, August 19 – Saturday, August 22, 2015. For more info, check the festival website. You can buy tickets here.