CityFolk – Ottawa’s an end-of-summer tradition

CityFolk has come a long way and celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.  Originally it was known as the Ottawa Folk Festival which was launched back in 1994 by Max Wallace.  The event was first held on Victoria Island (Ottawa River), then moved to Britannia in 1995 where it remained until 2010. 

The team behind Ottawa Bluesfest began to produce the festival in 2011 and from 2011–2014 the festival was held at Hog’s Back Park in central Ottawa. In 2015, Mark Monahan, who is the current executive and artistic director and his team re-branded the Ottawa Folk Festival as the CityFolk Festival and re-located it to the beautiful and far more accessible facility at Lansdowne Park where it has been for the last four years.


Now, a multi-genre event, CityFolk has increased attendance from hundreds daily to tens of thousands festival goers taking in this end of summer music festival in the Nation’s capital of Ottawa.

“Since moving to Lansdowne Park in 2015, CityFolk has become an important staple for music fans to celebrate the onset of fall,” says CityFolk’s executive and artistic director Mark Monahan. “The festival has established an end-of-summer tradition—cottages are closed, kids are back in school—and CityFolk gives people one last chance to enjoy a great outdoor music experience.”

Featured acts have included Van Morrison, Bon Iver, Kendick Lamar, Lorde, Avett Brothers, J. Cole, Vance Joy, James Bay, Vampire Weekend, Jack Johnson, and Post Malone, among others making CityFolk a true festival come back success story thanks to the hard work and efforts of Mark Monahan and his Ottawa Bluesfest team.  Most festivals have a hard time making it though the first couple of years so to be turning twenty-six is a true accomplishment and acknowledgement of the hard work that goes into making this festival happen.

CityFolk will return to Canada’s capital city from September 12th to 15th and looks to be another amazing event with yet another stellar lineup that includes Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Leon Bridges and the Strumbellas. There will also be a special revival Summersault festival featuring Our Lady Peace, Live and Bush as part of this year’s CityFolk as one of five tour dates set for September in Quebec City, Montreal, Moncton and Toronto.

“Summersault began as a little idea. We asked a handful of Canadian bands we were fans of to join us on a few outdoor shows in 1998. The bands agreed and Summersault was born. The next year our list grew to include International bands like the Foo Fighters, Deftones, Smashing Pumpkins, A Perfect Circle, The Catherine Wheel, and Sum41. Summersault quickly grew to across Canada Festival. It was the first time many of these bands had ever visited or played cities like Edmonton, Winnipeg & Halifax. We are proud to have exposed them to these and other incredible Canadian cities back in 2000 and this year feels like the right time to relaunch Summersault. We couldn’t be more excited to bring it to Canada again,” said Raine Maida, Our Lady Peace.

Rounding out the CityFolk roster are artists like Lucinda Williams, Rhye, Lucy Dacus, Donovan Woods and the Opposition, Larkin Poe, Tim Baker, Rich Aucoin, Saul Williams, Dear Rouge, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, the Once, Orville Peck, Dwayne Gretzky, the White Buffalo, the East Pointers, Eleni Mandell, Harrow Fair, Lee Harvey Osmond, Caroline Rose, Tamino and Human Kebab.

The 26th edition of CityFolk will again include Marvest—a harvest of terrific local talent, including many Ottawa acts that have performed at the Ottawa Folk Festival in past years. Marvest takes place in Bank Street area venues, is free of charge and family friendly, making it a great opportunity to check out some amazing talent with the kids. Performers, places, and times will be announced once that program is confirmed, and we would recommend that you Check out the CityFolk ( for more to come in the weeks ahead.

This year’s CityFolk runs for four amazing days—from Thursday, September 12 through Sunday, September 15 with fantastic performances from local and international artists making it an event for everyone in addition to great performances the festival site is licensed and offers a wide variety of food, beverages, and merchandise concessions so you can take something home to remember this year CityFolk Festival.

by Jamie Barrie