News / Ottawa

Arboretum finds its 'dream' venue nestled in the Rideau Pines

New site offers pick-your-own food, late-night dance parties and top-drawer lineup

Arboretum Festival 2017 promises to be a real barn-burner.

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Arboretum Festival 2017 promises to be a real barn-burner.

Arboretum Festival is finally home.

After bouncing from venue to venue, site to site over the last five years, dealing with space constraints, strict noise by-laws and the delicate task of throwing a party on unceded Algonquin territory, organizers say they've finally found their “dream” venue: an expansive organic pick-your-own farm just 25 minutes from downtown.

And with enough space at the Rideau Pines Farm for three separate concert areas and enough treed seclusion to keep complainers at bay, the forward-thinking festival seems to have really overcome its past woes.

“There are so many reasons why this site is so in line with what we want to do,” says Arboretum artistic director Rolf Klausener, who is days away from launching the fifth edition of the festival this weekend. “Every year it's real a challenge to do the outdoor component of the festival.”

Nestled among the pines in North Gower, the farm offers a truly one-of-a-kind concert experience — one where revellers can pick their own food right from the ground and eat it with a little bit of dirt still on the surface.
The site boasts three different concert areas including the Bang-Bang Barn, a thicketed Forest Stage and a pond-side stage for late-night dance parties. No more cutting the cord at 11 p.m.

“Let's just say we are going to have very late parties,” Klausener says.

It really is a dream site for the festival that prides itself on spending as much care curating its food providers as it does its musical talent. Rideau Pines supplies fruit and veggies to many of the restaurants that have worked with the festival in the past, which Klausener says completes “one big picture.”

“I've never heard of a festival that engages with a farm in a real-time way like that,” he says. “We really get to showcase the city's eating and arts holistically as a whole entity — this is where the food comes from, these are the people that make the food, and these are the artists that eat it.”

In past years, Arboretum has been known for its live discussion-panel series that have provided valuable discourse on social issues and industry politics. But with the new venue being somewhat of its own classroom, it won't be difficult for festivalgoers to make the connection from farm to table.

“There is this real loss of connection to food when you live in the city and you go get your groceries from a grocery store,” says Klausener. “It's amazing that we get to connect our community and music lovers to this kind of experience. It seems really simple, but it's really impactful once you're there.”

And we haven't even mentioned the music. As always, Klausener and company have put together a stellar, eclectic lineup that is both wicked and weird in every way. San Francisco noise punk misfits Deerhoof headline the festival alongside New York rapper Le1f, UN Blonde, Isaac Vallentin and Edmonton rapper Cadence Weapon.

“When Cadence Weapon headlined the first year of the festival, he brought people to their knees.” adds Klausener. “The lineup is diverse and there is lots of time between the bands and then what's awesome is that, when the main stage ends at 11 o'clock, there are afterparties.”

Open Air Social Club will host a roster of DJs at the Pond Stage to continue the rinse-out Saturday Night.

The festival also boasts late-night movies, a Dining Grove catered by Beckta, Two six {ate} and The Whalesbone, among other top city cookeries, and a free shuttle service to and from City Centre during the festival.

Time to escape.

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