Ottawa Jazz Festival cancels 2020 edition; other events eye revamped celebrations

Jazz Festival
Crowds gather in the VIP Tent on Friday, June 21, 2019, for the launch of the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival at Marion Dewar Plaza in downtown Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Another major Ottawa tourist draw has been cancelled after the city extended its ban on public gatherings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizers of the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival announced this week that the marquee music event slated for June 19-July 1 at Confederation Park has been called off. The news came after the city said Monday the ban on all public gatherings would be extended until June 30, meaning permits will not be issued for festivals.

“Given this new reality along with the cancellations of our many presenting partners, the Ottawa Jazz Festival has no choice but to cancel this year’s edition,” the festival said in a statement on its website. “Obviously, we deliver this news with a very heavy heart.”

Organizers said ticket and pass purchasers will be given the choice of receiving a full refund minus processing fees, exchanging this year’s pass for a 2021 pass or converting their order to a charitable donation to the festival.

The festival said refunds will be issued automatically to patrons who don’t choose another option by April 27.

Organizers say the festival’s programming team is “exploring ideas to provide opportunities for artists and audiences to share in a rich and moving musical experience” but said no firm plans are in place yet.

Meanwhile, Ottawa’s Canada Day festivities are likely to be significantly scaled back due to the pandemic.

Mayor Jim Watson told various media outlets it will be a “real challenge” to host Canada’s annual birthday bash on Parliament Hill given the circumstances. City officials said they’ve informed Canadian Heritage, the federal department that organized the downtown Canada Day celebrations, that all public gatherings are banned until at least the end of June.

In other tourism news, the Canadian Tulip Festival says it is moving all of its programming for this year’s event online. The festival says the revamped celebration will take place on its website, on social media and on a new YouTube channel that’s set to launch soon.

The 75th edition of the Canadian Tulip Festival is scheduled for May 8-18.