I checked out the new Ottawa Jazz Festival set-up Tuesday night. It's definitely going to be more crowded for some outdoor shows!

©Alayne McGregor, 2018
The Main Stage, in front of City Hall, faces east instead of west this year. Listeners will face the early evening sun, but musicians will finally get a break. ©Alayne McGregor, 2018

Because of the construction in the Canal side of Confederation Park, most of the action has moved to around Ottawa City Hall, where the secondary stage was last year. From Laurier Avenue West, the walkway will lead you beside the Box Office and the Souvenirs tent, and then you enter on your left into the stage area.

Watch out for cyclists on the elevated cycle track along Laurier Avenue West, which looks just like a sidewalk, as you cross into City Hall.

The seating area in front of the Main Stage appears to be much smaller than in the park. It will be L-shaped, with the Gold Tent and the sound tech booth to the right, and the regular seating in front of and then extending back on stage left towards City Hall.

If you want to also see and not just hear the performers on the Main Stage, you may need to arrive earlier in order to get a spot with a good view.

Most of the audience area is on a concrete pad (the skating rink in winter) and the rest is on grass on top of the City Hall parking garage. There's much less shade in this area than in Confederation Park. The advantage to this is that it won't get as cold at night and it won't be as soggy underfoot if it rains. The disadvantage is that it may get much hotter and brighter during the day, and the sun may be in the audience's eyes for early evening shows (performers on the Main Stage, on the other hand, will finally not have to squint). Consider bringing sunglasses and sunscreen.

Local performers' tent ©Alayne McGregor, 2018
The Ontario Stage, beside Elgin Street in Confederation Park, will host performances by local jazz groups at noon, 5 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. ©Alayne McGregor, 2018

The VIP tent is off to the side this year, meaning that noise from it is less likely to bother listeners.

The secondary Tartan Stage is behind City Hall, in a grassy field off Lisgar Street between City Hall and the Cartier Drill Hall/ Lisgar Collegiate. It's in a large tent, in a similar configuration to last year. You access it from Lisgar Street (behind City Hall) or by walking around City Hall.

There's limited bike parking in locations around City Hall, beside the Courthouse, and along Lisgar Street. Car parking is available in the City Hall garage. Elgin Street is under construction this summer. Use other roads to get to the festival.

Ottawa City Hall will be open late during the festival, allowing you to use the washrooms inside and to refill your water bottles from the drinking fountains. There will also be porta-potties and a water bottle fill station outside.

Looking for a place to eat or drink? There are a few food trucks and the beer tent in the City Hall space. However, most of the food offerings remain in Confederation Park around the fountain, where there will also be one or two shows. And, of course, there are many restaurants you can walk to on Elgin Street, in the Rideau Centre, or in the ByWard Market. On the weekends, restaurants in the immediate downtown (north of Laurier) may be closed or have limited hours.

Immediately east of Elgin Street in Confederation Park is the new tent for free shows by Ottawa/Gatineau musicians, which are now being offered at noon, 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. This will be the only local stage; there will be nothing at the Rideau Centre or other locations. It's a large, open tent and should be an excellent place to hear our talented local musicians, including many whose shows sold out in smaller venues like GigSpace.

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