Ottawa Bluesfest

General FAQs

How do I sign up to be a volunteer?

We love our volunteers and couldn’t run the festival without them! Visit the new volunteer website at for all your volunteering-related questions and needs. Online volunteer registration will open May 24th at 7PM. For returning volunteers in good standing, Early Bird Registration runs from May 17th at 7PM to May 21st at midnight.

What’s the festival like beyond the music?

It’s awesome. We have multicultural foods (ranging from snacks to full meals), several beverage options, VIP upgrade areas, merch and posters for sale, autograph signings, raffles, silent auctions, multiple promotions and contests, greening initiatives, AND the Canadian War Museum is in the middle of our site.

When do the festival gates open?

We try as hard as we can to have the gates open at 5PM on weeknights and 2PM on weekends (gates open at 12:30PM on Sunday, July 16 for Blues in the Schools day). If there is a delay beyond our control, we will spread the word as quickly as we can.

What happens if it rains?

We all get wet. For the most part, the show goes on rain or shine. We will inform patrons of significant weather-related delays through onsite, media and social media announcements.

Is the festival site accessible?

We’ve done everything we can to make sure the venue is wheelchair-accessible. However, due to the ground’s natural terrain and size, it can be difficult to manoeuvre a wheelchair. The festival does not provide personal care or golf cart rides, but RBC Bluesfest’s volunteer A-Team does offer push service and light support. A-Team volunteers will be roaming the site to offer support, and stationed in the A-Team Tent (near the Info Booth) to offer guidance and light support as needed. As well, support persons can access the festival site without additional cost above the admission price for the patron with a disability (one support person per person with a disability). There is an elevated platform in the main bowl designated for patrons using wheelchairs with view of the City Stage (main stage), in addition to priority access at Club VIP areas at each stage.

Collapsible lawn chairs are permitted throughout the site and we encourage those who may have difficulty standing for long periods to bring them.

Ottawa Bluesfest Accessibility Policy

What can I bring? What should I leave at home?

Aren’t you smart to plan ahead! See below: What to bring:

  • YES Cell phones (we have charging stations!)
  • YES Soft-sided coolers; snacks
  • YES Sealed water bottles or empty reusable water bottles (we have filling stations!)
  • YES Small backpacks, bags, and purses. Small = not massive camping gear
  • YES Blankets and beach towels, sunscreen, hoodies or rain ponchos
  • YES Personal cameras without removable lenses. See Camera Policy for details
  • YES Small collapsible lawn chairs
  • YES Medication in its original packaging with matching photo ID
  • YES Umbrellas (small handheld ones – no patio, golf, or beach umbrellas please)
  • YES Baby strollers (for kids)

Don’t bring these: Items on the list below WILL be confiscated.

  • NO Weapons, colours, or contraband
  • NO Bicycles inside festival grounds. Valet bike parking is available
  • NO Professional photography equipment, video equipment, or audio recording devices without a media/photo pass. Including but not limited to: any detachable zoon lenses, stands, monopods, tripods. (See Camera Policy for details)
  • NO GoPro’s
  • NO Laser pointers, lighting devices, glow sticks, etc.
  • NO Drones or any other remote flying devices
  • NO Musical instruments, horns or noise makers
  • NO Walkie-talkies or radio equipment
  • NO Skateboards, roller blades, scooters, carts or personalized motorized vehicles (except wheelchairs)
  • NO Illegal substances or drug paraphernalia
  • NO Alcohol. Beer, wine, spirits, and non-alcoholic beverages will be sold inside the festival gates
  • NO Pets. Service dogs are permitted
  • NO Hard-sided coolers
  • NO Glass containers
  • NO Unauthorized vending is permitted on festival property
  • NO Guerilla marketing
  • NO Flyers, handbills, posters, stickers
  • NO Fireworks or explosives
  • NO Beach balls, soccer balls, baseballs, footballs, etc
  • NO Squirt guns or water toys
  • NO Paint or permanent markers
  • NO Tents
  • NO Megaphones
  • NO Non-collapsible chairs
  • NO Banners or flags (no poles)


Will the festival have a lost and found?

The Festival lost and found is located at the on-site Administration office located inside the Canadian War Museum.

Is smoking allowed at the festival?

We pride ourselves as being a very inclusive festival and having house policies that are in place for the safety and overall enjoyment of all our fans.

RBC Bluesfest is a non-smoking event. Patrons are asked to refrain from smoking at the festival for the duration of the event. Smoking policies off the grounds fall under the respective jurisdictions of the City of Ottawa or the National Capital Commission.

In regards to the use of medical marijuana at the festival we have connected and discussed the issues with Ottawa Public Health, By-law services, Ottawa Police, National Capital Commission (NCC) and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The festival operates under the City and NCC by-laws concerning non smoking at special events and being a licence holder for sale and service of alcohol. The city stakeholders along with the landowners have informed us that we are required to continue to not permit smoking of any kind at our event (no matter the substance and reason).

In regards to the issue of consuming medical marijuana in a manner other than smoking: The AGCO has informed us that according to a ruling by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, while medical marijuana users may possess marijuana at a licensed establishment, they are not entitled to consume it anywhere at the establishment. The Liquor Licence Act does not include any provisions or exemptions allowing the use of medicinal marijuana in a licensed establishment by patrons who hold a federal permit allowing them to possess marijuana for medical purposes. If a customer uses marijuana in a licensed establishment, this is a breach of the Liquor Licence Act and may result in a suspension or revocation of a liquor licence.

This decision means the following for liquor sales licensees:
1) Licensees must not permit any person to consume marijuana anywhere at his/her establishment (including washrooms, patios, etc.), regardless of whether or not the person possesses a medical marijuana licence from Health Canada.
2) Licensees must not permit any person to possess marijuana at his/her establishment. The only exception is where a person can produce a medical marijuana licence issued by Health Canada. Licensees must ask to see the medical marijuana licence, and if it is not produced and/or the licensee is not satisfied that it is valid for that person, the person cannot stay on the premises.

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