In the summer of 1994, four new festivals began with the objective of showcasing different cultures, arts, and entertainment to the local community. Distinct, yet sharing a common objective, these organizations, namely, Ottawa Bluesfest, CKCU Ottawa Folk Festival, Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, and Fete Caribe, saw a unique opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences and lend support to each other’s development and growth.

In the fall of 1994, a meeting was called by the president of Ottawa Tourism Commission Authority (OTCA) in response to many public inquiries relating to these new festivals. The goal was to create a communication flow between the festivals and OTCA. During this meeting, there was a consensus that most of the festivals had many common interests and that there was a need to form some ongoing group that could not only coordinate tourism information, but also share ideas to improve their individual events.

After many meetings and brainstorming sessions, the Ottawa Festival Network was formed with an initial board which included Mark Monahan (Ottawa Bluesfest), Michel Gauthier (Canadian Tulip Festival), Gene Swimmer (Ottawa Folk Festival) and Christine Broughton (OTCA). It was from this initial group that the network flourished, and was eventually successful in working with several organizations to introduce programs and services to members of the industry.


In April 1996, the Ottawa Festival Network became an incorporated entity with a group of diverse not-for-profit member festivals representing different cultures, arts, and entertainment.

In 1996, the first inception of the Job Creation Partnership was introduced in collaboration with Human Resource Development Canada.

In April 2006, Ottawa Festival Network celebrated its 10th anniversary by unveiling its new official name, Ottawa Festivals d’Ottawa, and celebrated at the inaugural Launch of the Festival Season.

The first Ottawa Festivals calendar brochure was produced and distributed to promote the 2006 festival season.

In 2008, a dynamic online calendar was introduced as a key component of the new Ottawa Festivals website and traffic increased approximately 750% by the 2009 festival season. A social media campaign was also introduced using Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

A new online volunteer engagement tool, OttawaVolunteerLounge.ca was introduced in 2012. To celebrate the Year of the Volunteer and Ottawa Festivals Launch of the Festival Season, the volunteer tool was unveiled and the inaugural BFL Canada Volunteer of the Year Award (now named the ScotiaMcLeod Volunteer of the Year Award) was presented.