17 weekend road trip ideas: From cookies to curling!

From a travelling concert on rails to Christmas markets galore, there’s lots to entertain you this weekend in the capital, Eastern Ontario, West Quebec and beyond. You might even get some use out of that really hideous holiday sweater in your closet.

Festive spirit on the rails

Photo courtesy of the CP Holiday Train.

Photo courtesy of the CP Holiday Train.

This sounds so cool that I can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before, especially since it’s been running for 17 years. Each year, the CP Holiday Train travels across Canada and the United States, stopping in communities large and small. At every stop, people gather to hear a free concert and admire the train’s 14 decorated rail cars, illuminated with hundreds of thousands of LED lights. There’s no fee to see the train or hear the music; all you need to do is bring a donation for the local food bank. This year, you can enjoy performers Devin Cuddy and Kelly Prescott at four nearby stops on Sunday, November 29: Finch (3pm), Merrickville (4:45pm), Smiths Falls (6:20pm) and Perth (7:40pm).

Traditional fun in Spencerville

You can enjoy an old-fashioned celebration this weekend during Christmas at the Mill in Spencerville (November 27 to 29). The fun includes puppet shows, a model railway, magic shows, cookie decorating, a Christmas market and lots more.

The bright lights of Alexandria and Cumberland

Alexandria kicks off its 10th annual Festival of Lights on Saturday, November 28 (the displays run until New Year’s Eve). Sip on hot chocolate as you admire illuminated trees and buildings.

Also on Saturday, the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum kicks off its Vintage Village of Lights with a tree-lighting ceremony. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until December 20, the village’s historic buildings will be lit up with more than 30,000 lights, and you can enjoy activities such as storytelling and horse-drawn wagon rides.

Shopping in Perth, New York State, Ottawa and Gatineau

You have two excuses for a road trip to Perth this week. Lavender and Lace, a pretty lingerie and gift shop in Perth, is hosting its third annual Ladies’ Night on Thursday, November 26, with door prizes, refreshments and surprise sales. Guests are asked to bring along a non-perishable item for Interval House. And on Sunday, November 29, the Perth Farmers’ market will be hosting a Christmas Market in the Crystal Palace from 9am to 3pm.

And after you come home from shopping, you can use the empty bags as cat toys. Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Travel Oriented.

And after you come home from shopping, you can use the empty bags as cat toys. Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Travel Oriented.

Perhaps you’re in the mood for a shopping trip to the U.S., but you’re not thrilled with the exchange rate and you’re a bit terrified of the whole Black Friday big-box-store-stampede thing? You can try the antidote to all that, Small Business Saturday. Input the name of a town anywhere in the U.S. to find participating independent merchants in that area. Many shops and regions are organizing special discounts and events for the day, which rolls out on Saturday, November 28. For instance, in Plattsburgh, N.Y., you can pick up a shopping passport that you can use to enter a raffle.

If you’d rather stay in Ottawa-Gatineau, it’s a great weekend to do it: Shop the Neighbourhood is a Yellow Pages initiative to promote shopping in locally owned stores, and the main event is this Saturday, November 28. Online, you can read stories about some of the participating stores, but to get the whole scoop, you’ll need to download the Shop the Neighbourhood app.

You can also check out the Christmas Market at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau (November 26 to 29), where more than 75 vendors will be selling everything from cheese and cider to jewellery and aprons.

Up in Wakefield, the Great Granny Bazaar (November 27 and 28) is offering up linens, jewellery, artwork and more, with the proceeds going to African grandmothers raising their grandchildren orphaned by AIDS.

And if you have a really ugly holiday sweater, you can put it to good use at this weekend’s Christmas Market at Library and Archives Canada (November 28 and 29); every 10 minutes, the organizers will be giving out a $5 gift certificate to anyone who shows up in a hideous sweater; you can spend your winnings with any of the show’s vendors.

Pottery in Kingston and Ottawa

Looking for a unique Christmas gift? Check out vases, mugs and other distinctive items at the Kingston Potters’ Guild Christmas show and sale at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning in Kingston (November 26 to 29). Closer to home, the Ottawa Guild of Potters is holding its Christmas Pottery Sale in the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park (November 27 to 29).

For the sporty

Yes, this weekend is the big event on the Canadian football calendar, and this year the Redblacks are in it. In case you’ve been living on Mars, I’m here to tell you that the hometown team will be duking it out with the Edmonton Eskimos in Winnipeg on Sunday, November 29, to win the Grey Cup. If a last-minute trip to Manitoba isn’t in your budget, you can watch the game for free on the big screen at TD Place, but tickets are going quickly.

Maybe curling is more your game? Then you can catch the action at the 2015 Travelers Curling Club Championship, which continues until Saturday morning at the Ottawa Golf and Hunt Club.

Classical music in Montreal

Fans of grand musical pieces have an embarrassment of riches to choose from during the Montreal Bach Festival (November 22 to December 5). There’s a free concert with more than a dozen choirs on Saturday, November 28, an organ recital on Sunday, November 29, and lots more. And it isn’t all Bach; works by other composers will be performed, too.

For crafty families

Ottawa’s Bytown Museum is offering weekend “Crafternoons” for families from now until December 20. Learn how to make traditional Christmas tree ornaments or embroidered Christmas cards.

Want more tips on road trips from Ottawa—including info on hotel discounts, contests, festivals and other cool news? Subscribe to my free weekly e-newsletter! I will never spam you—promise.

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8 Responses to 17 weekend road trip ideas: From cookies to curling!

  1. Carole Kennedy November 24, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    Really enjoy your suggestions – even just reading about the different places is fun:)..

    • Laura Byrne Paquet November 24, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

      Thanks, Carole! I’m so glad you enjoy the posts.

  2. Lucie Legare November 24, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

    We are so excited that the Holiday Train is stopping in Finch at 3 p.m., November 29th!
    The community is organizing a day filled with activities from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
    Visit our Website at http://www.northstormont.ca and our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStormont
    See you on Sunday!

  3. Brenda A November 25, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    Thanks for such great ideas. I look forward to your posts each week!

    • Laura Byrne Paquet November 26, 2015 at 8:18 am #

      Thanks, Brenda! I’m delighted that you like the posts!

  4. Donna Shane-Zandbelt November 26, 2015 at 8:11 am #

    What a great site, so many things to do so close to home. Girls tour this Saturday, heading to Perth for a day of shopping.

    • Laura Byrne Paquet November 26, 2015 at 8:17 am #

      I’m really glad you enjoy the site, Donna–thanks! Have a great road trip this weekend.

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