About Big Bang Festival

© Dries Segers

The Big Bang is a one-of-a-kind festival. For two days, the entire NAC will groove to the rhythm of many sound and musical activities for kids and their whole family. From a visually enchanting concert with the NAC Orchestra, to an interactive Jazz trio, from passing through a sea of singing hearts to big air bags that makes music when children roll on them, everyone is invited to a journey of discovery and amazement by diving into this colourful musical trip in the heart of winter!

The BIG BANG is one of the most successful children’s festivals in Europe. It explores the fascinating world of music, sound and the arts, through a variety of activities and performances.

The festival builds on the legacy of Wouter Van Looy, who founded the OORSMEER children’s music festival in 1995 as a platform for artistic modern music programming specifically for children.

Bringing BIG BANG to the NAC grew out of the NAC’s relationship with Zonzo Compagnie, a Belgian music/theatre company for young audiences founded by Van Looy. Over the past few years, the NAC has presented some of its shows, including Listen to the Silence about the music of John Cage, and Slumberland, which explores the world of dreams and the night.

In 2015, Mélanie Dumont, who leads French Theatre’s Enfance/Jeunesse programming, and Geneviève Cimon, Director of Music Education and Community Engagement, attended BIG BANG at the Opéra de Lille in France, to see if the concept could work at the NAC.

“We were absolutely knocked out by it,” Dumont said. “The presentations were incredibly creative. And they were absolutely everywhere – not just on the stages, but in the halls, in the corridors, backstage, in every little corner. It was an atmosphere of total celebration and discovery.”

In developing the concept for the NAC, Dumont said she spoke frequently with Van Looy to ensure that the NAC festival would be true to his vision. That means making sure the emphasis is not on “teaching” children about music. Instead, it’s about turning the venue over to the artists and the children to experience music for themselves.

In that same vein, the festival’s ambassadors are always young people. At the NAC, they will be between the ages of 10 and 14, and they will welcome the public, interview artists, and become the public face of the festival.

With the NAC’s commitment to young audiences and beautiful new spaces for the artists and audiences to inhabit, it’s truly the perfect location for BIG BANG, Dumont said.

“Come to the BIG BANG. You will see things you’ve never seen before. It’s audacious!”


  • Artistic director

    Wouter Van Looy

  • Programmer

    Mélanie Dumont

  • Programming Advisors

    Geneviève Cimon and Xavier Forget

  • Producer

    Robert Gagné

  • Associate Producer

    Annick Huard

  • Marketing officer

    Marie-Chantale Labbé-Jacques

  • Communications Officer

    Andrea Ruttan

  • Marketing/communication interns

    Marion Humeau and Marion Lelong

  • Technical Director

    Élise Lefebvre

  • Assistant Technical Director

    Philippe Genest

  • Graphic designers

    Julie-Anne Madore, Dany Pépin and Aaron Bihari

  • Coordinators of the Ambassadors

    Véronique Lavoie-Marcus, Judi Pearl, Natasha Harwood and Venessa Lachance

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Big Bang festival is produced by the National Arts Centre in collaboration with Zonzo compagnie, with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Ottawa Tourism, Winterlude 2019, the Creative Europe Program of the European Union and by Donald T. Walcot.

BIG BANG Festival is a format developed and owned by Zonzo Compagnie.

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