January 16, 2024 – OTTAWA – On February 17 and 18, the National Arts Centre will be bursting at the seams with children’s joyful energy during the BIG BANG Festival. Two days of colourful festivities and musical adventures for kids and their families, perfectly timed for Family Day weekend during Winterlude. 

From interactive sound installations to the return of the famous singing plants, there are lots of activities to bring joy and wonder to young and old alike. With performances that range from brass band fanfare to micro-concerts featuring household items turned instrument, the variety of musical offerings is as eclectic as a child’s imagination. Artists hailing from diverse backgrounds, several all-women performances, and a concert co-created with a class of nine and ten-year-olds – it is safe to say all voices are welcome at this party! 

The BIG BANG Festival puts kids front and centre, including in the role of host. Ten superstar young people from across the Ottawa-Gatineau region have been selected as ambassadors and will help to welcome families and artists. Spending five weeks working with Festival Curator Melanie Dumont and her team, this crew of young people will get to meet and interview artists and see behind-the-scenes preparations. This enriching experience for local youth is a staple of BIG BANG Festivals worldwide and at the heart of the festival’s philosophy.  

Since 2019, the BIG BANG Festival has attracted thousands of young visitors and their families to the NAC for an incredible weekend of adventures in sound. In addition to the affordable paid shows, a wide range of performances and activities are presented free of charge for all families to enjoy. 


The BIG BANG events will blow your mind ... and your ears. The 2024 edition of the festival has something for everyone! 


Burning BRASs Band    

Funk for the family 

Make way for the Burning BRASs Band! Canada’s first brass and percussion band composed exclusively of women and gender diverse people, it will blow you away with its joyful feminist funk. Its lively arrangements of popular songs tickle the ears with traditional brass band favourites, not to mention a few nods to upbeat pop classics.  

February 17-18 | Free | 3 Showtimes each day 
Bilingual ● For all ages 


Interactive sound garden    

Solarium is back! This enchanted greenhouse delighted festivalgoers in 2022 for the summer edition of BIG BANG. A unique opportunity to (re)discover this magnificent garden, filled with musical plants, where every child can dream of being a sound gardener.  

February 17-18 | Free  
Without words ● For all ages  

The Aerophone 
The World’s Most Useless Machine ™ © Inc.   

Interactive symphony 

Picture a makeshift piano keyboard and an array of old tape recorders. The ingenious mechanism that links all this together is just waiting for you to set it in motion. So, take control of this bizarre machine with its tapes and motors and compose a sensational score! Chain reaction: You press a key on the keyboard, a tape recorder starts up, and the first note of an amazing symphony rings out!   

February 17-18 | Free  
Without words ● Ages 5+ 


Concert performed by kids for kids 

Nomad is an emblematic BIG BANG Festival project. It unites, connects and delights wherever it is recreated. London-based artist Paul Griffiths will bring his electric guitar and jazz, funk and rock influences to meet with 9- and 10-year-olds from St. Dominic Elementary School in Ottawa. A week to get to know each other, master the groove, and savour the joy of singing together before they perform their free concert.  

February 17-18 | Free | 2 Showtimes each day 
Bilingual ● For all ages 


Interactive video installation   

In an empty space, a glowing arch seems to float in mid-air. A highly sophisticated and joyfully light-hearted interactive installation, Liminal invites you to play with your image. Thanks to hidden sensors and a screen facing the luminous ring, your movements produce a strange soundtrack as your reflection is repeatedly stretched, twisted, multiplied and distorted!  

February 17-18 | Free  
Without words ● For all age

Hip Hub 

Interactive musical dance  

Step into a virtual space and become a percussionist—all in the blink of an eye, thanks to the magic of Hip Hub! In this fascinating interactive installation, Congolese singer Junior Akwety appears opposite you—not the real one, but his avatar. Let him guide you! First, Junior’s pixelated double teaches you a few tricks. Then he turns your movements into music, and you determine the groove!  

February 17-18 | Free  
Without words ● Ages 5+ 


Families will find accessible prices with ticketed events ranging from $5-$15.  


When the gong is pop 

This Toronto based quintet, made up of members of the Filipino diaspora, remixes kulintang music, and it's downright cool! Pantayo brings a pop flavor to the traditional instrumental music made with gongs by integrating vocals, guitar, synths and drum machines. 

February 17 | $15
45 minutes ● Bilingual ● Age 6+   

Les Royal PicklesSecond show added due to popular demand! 

Bite into swing 

A swing band inspired by the street music of New Orleans, Les Royal Pickles will get everyone up on their feet dancing! Banjo, guitar, tuba and vocals are all they need to rock out to tasty hits from the 20s and 30s as well as compositions of their own. A joyful, boisterous mix of jazz, blues and folk, the perfect treat for young and old alike.  

February 18 | $15   
45 minutes ● Bilingual ● Age 5+   

Music Rooms  

À la carte micro-concerts  

With just a small group of audience members and an accessible price, these micro-concerts are a festival favourite. Enjoy the casual atmosphere, as artists perform in a tucked away and mysterious NAC setting. There will be three Music Rooms to choose from in 2024, featuring instruments ranging from an oud to everyday household objects, not to mention a duet of hoop dancing and Indigenous music. 

February 17 & 18 | $5  
20 minutes ● Multilingual ● Ages 5+  

roundABOUT # Tsubasa Hori - SOLD OUT! 

Like Japan, but in a dream  

Take a seat inside a fantastic lantern/stage, illuminated by spellbinding video projections and brought to life by the music, singing and dancing of incandescent Japanese-born performer Tsubasa Hori. A journey through a kaleidoscopic world of images and music. 

Produced by Zonzo Compagnie and ChampdAction 

February 17-18 | $15   
40 minutes ● Performed without words ● Ages 5–12  


Explore the full program at    


Photos of featured productions and festival creative are available here.  


The BIG BANG is a one-of-a-kind festival of musical adventures. It invites children and their families on a colourful journey featuring a rich array of sound concepts whose diversity and originality make the festival a hit wherever it goes. 

The BIG BANG loves to travel, and what’s more, it loves to take visitors of all ages on adventures. It builds on the legacy of the OORSMEER festival, founded by Wouter Van Looy in 1995, to offer children an artistic and musical program designed specifically for them, and which they even help deliver by participating in certain interactive installations. 

Since its inception, the festival has travelled to several European cities, from Tallinn to Lisbon, from Antwerp to Athens, from Seville to Dublin, from Lille to Enschede, via Ghent, Brussels, Rouen, Reykjavik and Copenhagen. In 2019, the event took a giant leap across the ocean to land in its first North American city: Ottawa! Since then, each edition has been a resounding success, bringing together thousands of curious people attracted by the many guest artists and invigorating performances and micro-concerts.  


The Ottawa presentation of the BIG BANG is the result of the NAC’s relationship with Belgium’s Zonzo Compagnie, which specializes in musical theatre for young audiences and is directed by Wouter Van Looy. In recent years the NAC has presented several Zonzo performances, including Listen to the Silence, set to the music of John Cage; Slumberland, an exploration of the world of dreams and the night; Mile(s)tones, a show about legendary jazzman Miles Davis; and HUSH: Henry’s Dream Machine, an off-the-wall concert-performance about Henry Purcell, the Shakespeare of English music!

The BIGBANG is an initiative of Zonzo Compagnie. The 2024 festival will be in full swing during Winterlude. 


The National Arts Centre (NAC) is Canada’s bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for the performing arts. The NAC presents, creates, produces, and co-produces performing arts programming in various streams — the NAC Orchestra, Dance, English Theatre, French Theatre, Indigenous Theatre, and Popular Music and Variety — and nurtures the next generation of audiences and artists from across Canada. The NAC is located in the National Capital Region on the unceded territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation.   


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