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The Canada 150 events you won’t want to miss

By Rachel Aiello      
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From the official beer of the year (Beau’s) to the official letterman jacket of Canada’s 150th anniversary (Roots) Ottawa and beyond is going to be thoroughly enrobed in patriotism and rainbow-hued maple leaves in 2017 as the country celebrates the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation.

To help you weed out the real barnburner events from the hoser-hosted happenings, P&I has picked the top eight arts and culture events going on across the true north strong and free.

Across the country:

For your Film Fix: National Canadian Film Day — April 19, 2017

This one-day celebration of Canada’s most iconic cinematic productions is billing itself as the largest film festival in the world. Presented by REEL CANADA, more than 600 screenings of 150 Canadian films will take place across Canada. These curated choices will show in venues ranging from community centres and theatres, to embassies and military bases.

There will also be a pop-up drive-in in Ottawa, and other larger screenings in major cities throughout the country. Some of the films you can catch that day include Érik Canuel’s Bon Cop, Bad Cop; Jean-Marc Vallée’s C.R.A.Z.Y.; Paul Gross’ Men with Brooms; and Patricia Rozema’s Into the Forest.

Adding music into the mix: Canada Mosaic Concerts — throughout 2017

Roy Thomson Hall, where the Canada Mosaic Concerts will be held (photograph courtesy of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Facebook page)

Throughout the year, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is embarking on more than 45 concerts with more than 40 different orchestras from across Canada, showcasing Canadian music, from past composers to the next generation of musical artists.

Roy Thomson Hall in downtown Toronto will be the home for these concerts. In addition, another 40 two-minute pieces—“sesquies,” as they’re being called—will premiere, and then be shared in the partner orchestras’ local communities. Among the collaborators are Tanya Tagaq who will perform on March 4, and Lucas Waldin who will bring his take on Canadian favourites like the theme to Hockey Night in Canada from June 10-11.

Art on the go: Art Express’d — June to August 2017

Over the summer, three shipping containers-turned mobile art studios will be travelling to and from the north, west, and east of the country and then back to their home of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The cross-country trek is part of Art Express’d, a 15-community artistic journey.

A contemporary Canadian artist will travel with each cargo container along the route, leading the art projects as they go, focusing on the public’s vision of Canada.

As the containers travel, live feeds and video footage will be available from inside the containers for viewers to see online. The journey begins June 1, 2017 and will be returning back to Winnipeg, Man. in mid-August—in time to get the creations ready for the city’s rendition of Nuit Blanche on Sept. 30, 2017.

Getting in the know: Indspire Youth Laureate Tour — March to November 2017

Taking place on university campuses across the country between March and November 2017, Indspire, an organization focused on indigenous education, is embarking on a cross-Canada youth laureate tour. The tour will feature Indspire award recipients participating in interactive panel discussions on the importance of education, and will share their own unique experiences.

Each event will begin with a VIP reception with local officials, a two-hour panel discussion, and end with a Q&A. It’ll be launching in Ottawa on March 23, and will travel to Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Yellowknife, Calgary, and Vancouver, before concluding in Montreal on November 30.

In the 613:

Cuisine in the Clouds: Sky Lounge — July 7-22, 2017

An example of what Ottawa’s Sky Lounge will look like (photograph courtesy of Ottawa 150)

It’s been said that Ottawa’s culinary scene has really taken off, but it’s skyrocketing to all-new heights this summer. Though not for the acrophobic, the Sky Lounge dining experience promises to be an exclusive foodie experience like none other. Happening in July on the grounds—and in the sky—at Ottawa City Hall, attendees can chose to partake in either a cocktail evening for $150 per head, which offers appetizers, an aperitif, cheese and charcuterie, and fine Canadian wine; or the $250 per plate gourmet dinner.

Both options are being served to diners who will be hoisted and harnessed 150 feet in the air. Meals will be prepared by chef Stephen La Salle, of Feast+Revel, which is inside the new boutique hotel in the ByWard Market, Andaz. If you can get past the roller-coaster seat belts and blowing gently in the warm July air, it’s sure to make an unbeatable Instagram snapshot.

Breaking bread with 1000 neighbours: Canada’s Table — August 27, 2017

One of the Ignite 150 signature 17 stunts set to be happening here this year is Canada’s Table, a 1000-person open-air table on Wellington Street overlooking the Parliament buildings with a view of the sound and light show, where attendees will be served the best in Ottawa cuisine.

Ten of Ottawa’s top local chefs will partner with 10 leading chefs from across the country to serve up a four-course dinner with wine pairings. Local restaurateurs taking part in the event include Stephen Beckta and Chef Mike Moffatt of Beckta, Play and Gezellig restaurants, and Sheila Whyte of Thyme & Again Catering. The 1000-foot table is just one of a four-day series of local culinary events focused on Canadian products, and the proceeds will go to local and national food security causes.

An underground multimedia experience: Kontinuum — summer 2017

A promotional photo of what to expect from Kontinuum, the underground multimedia experience (photograph courtesy of Ottawa 150)

Barring further structural issues, the city of Ottawa wants to take you down—way down—into the light rail tunnels that are being dug as we speak, for a “futuristic and immersive multimedia production.”

Kontinuum, put together by sound and light envelope-pushers Moment Factory, is happening at the Lyon station during a 10-week-schedule in summer 2017. Moment Factory has previously done sound and light productions for a number of major stadium concerts, and has illuminated the Jacques Cartier Bridge.

Based on the promotional videos, it looks like something out of an episode of Black Mirror.

Photograph courtesy of Ottawa 150

Ottawa goes avant-garde with performance art: Ignite 150 — throughout 2017

You know all those quirky, expressive performance pieces you see viral videos of ? They typically take place in hip cities like Vancouver, Toronto, or New York City. Throughout the year, Ottawa is going to try its hand at similar stunts and spectacles with Ignite 150. The ephemeral series of 17 “epic” stunts like yoga on a barge going down an Ottawa waterway, or impromptu contemporary dance performances in fountains across town promise to hit all the entertainment buzzwords: “spectacular, innovative, breathtaking.”
So, stay tuned. We can collectively take part in some classic Ottawa snark if it disappoints—that’s all the entertainment many Ottawans need, anyways.

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