A ‘passport’ to the Rideau Canal Festival

The Rideau Canal Festival begins tomorrow and organizers are offering visitors a five-day “passport” to experience it all.

The festival is all about celebrating one of Ottawa’s most prominent symbols – the Rideau Canal, said festival executive director Michel Gauthier.

“(The festival) is a moment where we . . . celebrate where we came from and who we are today,” said Gauthier.

New this year is the Festival Passport – a $20 gateway to experiencing all of the exhibits, art and entertainment that the festival has to offer throughout its five-day run.

It also gives visitors access to the Bytown Museum and discounts for canoe and kayak rentals on Dow’s Lake, as well as several restaurant discounts.

The Passport is valued at more than $100, said marketing co-ordinator Krystal Mathieu.

“If you don’t want to buy the passport, you can buy a ticket for the day,” said Mathieu.

Admission during the day is $5 and $10 after 6 p.m.

The Rideau Canal was built from 1826-1832 as a “safe passage from the Ottawa River to the St. Lawrence River.” In 2007, it became Ontario’s only UNCESCO World Heritage Site.

For Gauthier, that means organizers have a responsibility to the environment and to organize a festival with zero greenhouse emissions.

“We feel that, yes (the canal) needs to be celebrated, but we need to put the message across that we need to protect it for future generations and all of humanity,” said Gauthier.

Organizers have been tracking gas emissions through the organization and implementation phases of the festival. The festival will feature biodegradable signage and compostable food and drink at concession stands.

Some of the event highlights include Sunday’s Bicycle Chic Fashion Show at Confederation Park; local Ottawa, Gatineau and Montreal artists showcasing art inspired by the canal, and nightly concerts that pay tribute to the builders of the canal.

Gauthier said organizers are looking at more than 100,000 visitors over the course of the five days.

More information can be found at www.rideaucanalfestival.ca .