With summer on the doorstep, the 14th annual Westfest takes place this weekend from June 2–4. It’s billed as the largest free street party in Canada, welcoming over 100,000 revellers over three days and turning the spotlight onto local art and culture.
2016 was a challenging year for the festival, after the Westboro BIA withdrew financial support near the end of 2015. Fortunately, Westfest landed on its feet, relocating to its new home at Laroche Park in Mechanicsville.
[Listen] Elaina Martin discusses Westfest 2017 with host Josh Lemoine on the apt613 podcast:
The festival kicks off this Friday with Westfest 2017’s resident disc jockey, DJ Jungle Jen at 5pm, and Deejay NDN (A Tribe Called Red) is headlining on opening night at 9:30pm. The official opening night afterparty is being hosted by Queer Mafia at Wellington Street staple, The Elmdale.
The music continues throughout Saturday, featuring appearances by Churchill School of Rock and River City Junction, before finishing with the evening headliner MonkeyJunk, a JUNO Award winning Ottawa-based blues band.
Sunday starts with a family yoga session from Yoga Town, followed by featured acts like Troubadours and Duo D’accords. The festival concludes with indie rock band Lemon Cash at 9:50pm on Sunday night.
You may be thinking to yourself at this point, “Westfest sounds like a cool place to check out local music.” Oh ye of little faith! Westfest is more. In between your trips to the main stage for music, pass by the Party Zone (19+) for local craft beers by the Clocktower Brew Pub. Sample the Westfest food trucks and peruse vendors at the market.
The Ottawa Art Gallery will be presenting artist Syrus Marcus Ware for a live drawing performance Friday evening, and House of PainT will lead a collaborative mural in Laroche Park on Saturday and Sunday. Capital Pop-Up Cinemas will also be around on the weekend to show outdoor movies.
This year’s schedule is a heady mix of new and returning acts. Looks like Westfest is showing it can evolve while staying true to its local roots.
Word of warning, it’s recommended that you don’t drive there – there is no festival parking, and public parking spots via residential side streets are bound to be few and far in-between. Luckily, Laroche Park is close to Bayview Station and a short walk from OC Transpo service to Hintonburg. Bring on the summer.