Last night Hong Kong kicked off to this years Casino Lac-Leamy Sound of Light fireworks competition. This year the event has moved from Lac-Leamy to the Ottawa River and the grounds of the Museum of History. The new site has a number of advantages, including close proximity to Ottawa, much better sight lines and a larger festival area. The old site was spread out over a large area (lots of walking to find a good spot and more walking to get back to the food and entertainment areas) and the sight lines were limited by trees once all the good spots filled up, so the new location was a welcome relief (I also appreciated that I can walk there from Downtown Ottawa).
Since I wasn’t familiar with the new site and I was hoping to catch some live music before the fireworks, I arrived at 8pm. There were still lots of excellent places with perfect sight lines to the show, which was a good sign as the good spots at the previous location used to fill up fast. The Tim Hortons stage is tucked away on the Western side of the site and I ended up picking a spot on the Eastern side with a perfect view of the fireworks barge (very important as there are lots of low level fireworks in addition to the big high ones).
The bad news for me was the band originally scheduled to play at 8:15pm had been changed at the last minute. Even worse, I fled the stage half way through the first song. I would suggest that if there is going to be live music, that it at least be good live music – othewise, don’t bother. At least it gave me time to tour the rest of the site and find a great spot to view the fireworks.
The good news for me was that Hong Kong put on a very good 30 minute show (the official start time is 9pm, but there are 15 minutes of announcements before the fireworks show starts), although it was somewhat hampered by smoke as the wind had died down to a whisper just before the fireworks started. With the excellent sight lines, the $5 admission fee was well worth it (I also hear that the Nepean Point location also has a good view and the admission goes to charity).
At the end of the show, the exodus was calm and orderly, until I arrived at the Alexandra Interprovincial Bridge, which was closed until 10:15pm. I understand the need to stop cars from crossing, but pedestrians? The event ended at 9:45 and we’re expected to wait a full 30 minutes before crossing back to Ottawa? Really? In the end, I decided to walk the long way back and crossed over the Portage Bridge – a less than ideal option, although it did give me a little extra powerwalk.
On the way back, I managed to catch the last half of the Mosaika show on Parliament Hill. If you haven’t seen this, I encourage you to check it out (but get there at least 30 minutes before the start as the area fills up on a warm Saturday night). I also took a quick trip through Sparks street hoping to catch the last Buskerfest shows of the day, but was too late. All in all, a very enjoyable evening. I’m hoping I can catch the Grand Finale Fireworks on August 16 (I would go August 9 but will be at Zaphod’s to see The Record Company that night).