By Chris Lack­ner

Ottawa Magazine - - THIS CITY - Full of Hot Air

Raise a pint — or four — at Beau’s Oktoberfest, which at­tracts nearly 20,000 vis­i­tors over two days (Sept. 23 and 24) to the vil­lage of Van­kleek Hill. What started as a few pic­nic ta­bles on the brew­ery’s front lawn has grown into a can’t-miss fall event fea­tur­ing craft beer (with a fo­cus on Ger­man styles), in­de­pen­dent Cana­dian mu­sic, and Bavar­ian-in­spired food from top lo­cal restau­rants.

“It’s not a sit-around kind of event — there’s so much go­ing on,” says Beau’s co-founder Steve Beauch­esne. “You can take a class on beer and food pair­ing, par­tic­i­pate in (or en­joy watch­ing) the keg toss or sausage-eat­ing com­pe­ti­tions, or check out day and evening en­ter­tain­ment on two stages . ... And you can try beer from 50 other na­tional and in­ter­na­tional craft brew­eries. Peo­ple love how they can to­tally per­son­al­ize their Oktoberfest ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Beau’s pop­u­lar Marzen Oktoberfest lager will re­turn for the fes­tiv­i­ties. Beauch­esne is also pos­i­tively hop­ping about Beau’s new Oktoberfest mix pack, which in­cludes a Vi­enna-style lager, a gin­ger hopfen­weisse, a Baltic porter, and a spiced beer called a mumme. The spe­cialty brews will be avail­able at Oktoberfest and the LCBO.

Don’t get con­fused by the fact that Oktoberfest is hap­pen­ing in Septem­ber. “The big­gest change this year is ac­tu­ally the tim­ing — we moved the fes­ti­val’s tim­ing [to be] ear­lier by a week to take ad­van­tage of warmer weather and dou­bled the camp­ing space for week­end pass hold­ers,” Beauch­esne ex­plains. “We have 54-40 play­ing on the Fri­day night stage along with Born Ruf­fi­ans, and Satur­day fea­tures k-os, who we made our Golden Vox beer with, and Han­nah Ge­or­gas.”

Beau’s Oktoberfest also sup­ports char­i­ties and com­mu­nity groups. To date, it has raised $430,600. I’ll drink to that. Proust! Held over five days, the Hot Air Bal­loon Fes­ti­val blows more than hot air. Start with more than 50 hot air bal­loons, as well as bal­loon tours and spe­cial shapes such as a gi­gan­tic ele­phant. Top that off with more than 300 ac­tiv­i­ties and shows, in­clud­ing a ma­jor trib­ute to Prince and David Bowie; an amuse­ment park; reptile zoo; and the Ul­ti­mate Strong­man Ju­nior World Cham­pi­onship. Plus “mag­nif­i­cent fire­works and two night glows, where the bal­loons light up to the sound of mu­sic,” ac­cord­ing to fes­ti­val spokesper­son Éric Bru­lotte. It all takes flight at The Ot­tawa In­ter­na­tional An­i­ma­tion Fes­ti­val cel­e­brates its 40th an­niver­sary this year from Sept. 21 to 25. (For more de­tails, read By the Num­bers, page 21). Cel­e­bra­tions in­clude spe­cial screen­ings of past grand-prize win­ners, more Cana­dian fea­tures than ever be­fore, and plenty of cul­tural di­ver­sity. Get an­i­mated by en­tries from 23 coun­tries on six con­ti­nents. Up­per Canada Vil­lage lights up again with Pump­kin­ferno from Sept. 30 to Oct. 30. You’ll feel haunted by the out­door night­time ex­hibit of 7,000 hand­crafted pump­kins just in­side the gates of the his­toric at­trac­tion. Re­turn to Saun­ders Farm in nearby Mun­ster for Haunt­ing Sea­son (day­time fam­ily-friendly ac­tiv­i­ties open­ing Sept. 26) and Fright Fest (night-time ac­tiv­i­ties for adults and chil­dren, open­ing Sept. 24). Get your spook on with hedge mazes, labyrinths, a haunted hayride, the Ghost Town stage show, the Barn of Ter­ror, and Camp Slaugh­ter – as well as a brand new mys­tery Hal­loween at­trac­tion. After fend­ing off the phan­toms, en­joy some farm-fresh food.

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