OK. I’ve been running this column for about two years now. I feel like we’re friends, and have shared some good times together.
So, it’s time for me to be honest. As excited as I am for the improvements in this region (cough, LRT, cough) construction season, as summer is called around here, sucks.
Road closures, detours, and then detours closed. I get it: It feels impossible to get anywhere right now.
But, this Victoria Day long weekend marks the unofficial start to summer. So instead of complaining, I’ve decided to focus on the amazing summer events coming your way over the next three months.
I promise, you won’t be bored this summer. Note: This is not a comprehensive list, but a sampling of the amazing events happening in the core. Trust me, it will be worth your time to drive, bus or walk to one of these events. And while you’re there, why not grab dinner, drinks or do a bit of shopping? I can guarantee our downtown businesses will be happy to see you.
Kicking it off is the Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound, which presents an eclectic array of music in unique venues. The festival runs from May 26-June 4. Communitech (151 Charles St. W., Kitchener) is once again a performance venue. We’ll be hosting DRUMnBASS on Friday, May 27 from 4-5 p.m. The free event features drummer Greg Harrison and artist Ryan Maguire.
Complementing Open Ears is Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area (CAFKA). CAFKA.16: What we do together that we can’t do alone, is the contemporary biennial art festival of public art around the region (check out the online map), and this year it runs from May 28-June 26. It includes 30 installations, projections and performances produced by CAFKA and its community partners, complemented by public panel discussions and public tours.
The Grand Porch Party also returns on Sunday, June 12. Running from 2-5 p.m., the event hosts a range of performers on people’s front lawns and yes, porches. Spanning the area of Uptown West in Waterloo, behind the Waterloo Town Square, the event is free and walkable.
The weekend of June 17-19 promises to be a busy one with the Altkrea Festival of Alternative Creation happening in downtown Kitchener. While the festival schedule hasn’t been posted yet, the festival attracts comic, sci-fi, fantasy and animation artists.
On June 18 there are two festivals to celebrate the summer solstice (which happens on June 20). During the (almost) longest night of the year you can head uptown to the Solstice Sampling. The event runs from 6-10 p.m. in the Waterloo Public Square (75 King. St. S.) and features paid food and drink samples from popular uptown eateries such as Beertown Public House, Marbles and Taco Farm. If you travel downtown to Kitchener, you will run into the Summer Lights Festival. The eight-block street party mixes art, music, food, drink and technology from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
In July, we welcome a brand new festival to town. The CMT Music Fest is your chance to dig up your festival clothes and party in the Bingemans campground to popular country music acts like Eric Church and Zac Brown Band. Tickets are on sale now (pssst: there’s a May long weekend sale on now).
The Downtown Kitchener Ribfest & Craft Beer Show is back in Victoria Park, Kitchener on July 15-17. The event features barbecue and craft beer vendors and live entertainment.
The summertime brings some great weekly events to the core including Yoga in the Park, a partnership between Queen Street Yoga and the City of Kitchener, starting Wednesday, June 1. Bring your yoga mat to Victoria Park for a free 50-minute class suitable for all skill levels. Yoga in the Park runs Wednesdays at 12 p.m. (meet on Joseph Street near the clock tower) and Sundays at 6 p.m. (meet at Schneider Avenue near the playground.)
Finally, as the summer wraps up, Kidspark takes over Victoria Park in Kitchener. From 11 a.m.-5 p.m., head to ImagineIt Kitchener Island for family friendly fun with the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, ESQ, and the Kitchener Public Library, live music, sports and art. New for 2016 is the Animal Kingdom Stage, which will feature a variety of animals. You’ll find me there snuggling puppies.
And of course, I can’t forget about three long-running festivals in our core. The Sun Life Financial Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival is running this year on July 15-17 and features three days of free jazz. Michael Kaeshammer is the Saturday night headliner. I’ve seen the jazz and boogie-woogie pianist and vocalist perform before, and highly recommend him. The Kitchener Blues Festival takes over the downtown core on August 4-7. The Sun Life Financial Waterloo Busker Carnival traditionally marks the unofficial end of summer. This year it runs August 25-28.
This May long weekend you’ll find me scrubbing down my patio furniture and planting some geraniums. After my work is done, I’ll probably head to a local patio (or perhaps go visit the newly opened Descendants Beer and Beverage Company, 319 Victoria St. N., Kitchener) to reward my hard work. For the rest of the weekend, I see and hear that… from May 21-23, the K-W Kennel Club is holding its annual dog show at The Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex (400 East Ave., Kitchener) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Daily admission is $5 for an adult and $2 for a child and includes obedience trials, rally obedience trials, and agility and scent hurdling… I saw Anything Goes at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse (40 Benjamin Rd. E., Waterloo) last weekend, and I highly recommend the hilarious musical. The show runs until May 29 and includes 2:30 p.m. matinees and 7:30 p.m. evening shows. Tickets range from $26 to $44, although there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Check the website for ticket availability.