17 road trip ideas for this weekend: From dogsledding in the Pontiac to Sneezy Waters in Calabogie

Variety abounds in this week’s roundup. I have winter fun in Montreal for families, plays in Ottawa and Kingston for theatre fans, wine and food events in upstate New York for gourmets, snowshoeing and dogsledding events in the Outaouais for outdoorsy types, and musical performances ranging from folk and country to electronica. So don’t tell me you have cabin fever—get out there and take a road trip!

Celebrate winter in Montreal

dogsled dogsledding fete des neiges parc jean-drapeau montreal

Photo of dogsledding at la Fête des Neiges de Montréal © Parc Jean-Drapeau, Gilles Proulx.

This weekend marks the beginning of the four-weekend Fête des Neiges de Montréal (January 14 to February 5). The family-oriented winter festival at Parc Jean-Drapeau features concerts, archery, tubing, zip-lining, dogsledding, bouncy castles, a Ferris wheel and other fun, and many activities are free.

Enjoy classic folk in Calabogie

Ottawa folk music icon Sneezy Waters is playing at the Valley Food and Drink Company at Calabogie Lodge on Saturday, January 14. Tickets are $30 for the concert only or $50 for a dinner-and-concert package.

Catch a political play in Ottawa

Politics is much on many people’s minds these days, so Ottawa Little Theatre’s timing for its production of Other Desert Cities (January 11 to 28) is inspired. The play, which was nominated for five Tony Awards and was in contention for a Pulitzer Prize, focuses on a retired Republican couple who were once big Hollywood names and on their children: a son who was a 1970s radical and a daughter who has just written a tell-all memoir about the skeletons in her family’s closet.

See a Kingston play…or three

A youth theatre company, Blue Canoe Theatrical Productions Inc., is presenting its production of the Tony Award-winning play Peter and the Starcatcher at the Grand Theatre in Kingston (January 11 to 28). This family-friendly show tells the tale of an unhappy orphan who becomes famous…as Peter Pan.

Less family-oriented, I suspect, is One Last Night with Mata Hari, a two-person cabaret show focusing on the famous femme fatale’s last night before her execution. It’s at the Studio theatre at The Isabel from January 11 to January 22.

And most definitely for mature audiences is Avenue Q, a musical puppet show that’s about as far from The Muppet Show as you can imagine. It’s at the Rotunda Theatre at Queen’s University from January 12 to January 21.

Nosh your way around upstate New York

The Seneca Lake Wine Trail is running two events this weekend: Halftime Pairings Weekend (January 13 to 15), a sports-themed tasting weekend pairing finger foods with local vintages at 25 participating wineries; and Bargain Bash (January 7 to 16), where wineries are selling everything from clothing to wine at discounted prices (just make sure to check the rules for how much you can bring back across the border before you go crazy).

A bit further afield, the Albany Chefs’ Food and Wine Festival (January 9 to 15) features 70 restaurants and chefs, and gives you the chance to sample some 250 craft beers, wines and spirits (not all at once, please).

Dance till you drop in Montreal


This Thursday sees the launch of Igloofest, a six-weekend electronic music festival in the Old Port of Montreal (January 12 to February 19). It’s longer than usual this year as part of the celebrations of Montreal’s 375th anniversary. With electronic artists from multiple countries—Canada, the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany and Poland, to name a few—you’ll be able to dance yourself warm no matter how far the mercury falls.

Learn about Ukrainian traditions in Ottawa

Act quickly if you want to enjoy this one: You can learn about Ukrainian holiday traditions at the Ukrainian embassy in Ottawa on Friday, January 13, starting at 6pm, but you need to RSVP to the embassy by Wednesday, January 11. Malanka is the Ukrainian version of New Year’s, so expect lots of traditional dishes and songs.

Cry “Mush!” or ski by moonlight in the Pontiac

OK, I know sled dog racers don’t really yell “Mush!” But I watched too many Saturday morning cartoons as a kid to shake the image entirely. Mush or no, the place for sled dog fans to be this weekend is Bristol, Quebec, where the Pontiac International Sled Dog and Skijoring Race (January 14 and 15) has attracted some of the world’s fastest dog-powered racers to make the most of all this snow.

While you’re in the area, you can go skiing or snowshoeing under the full moon along torch-lit trails at Coronation Hall Cider Mills in Bristol on Saturday, January 14, beginning at 5pm. Local fiddler Ursula Schultz will be on hand to provide musical entertainment, and you can have dinner, too.

Be a little bit country in Kingston

On Friday, January 13, you can hear country star Lee Ann Womack during her first-ever Kingston show, at the Grand Theatre. Expect to hear lots from her most recent album, 2014’s The Way I’m Livin’.

Get wedding ideas in Ottawa

engagement wedding ring

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Tela Chhe.

With all those engagement rings under Christmas trees, January is definitely high Wedding Planning Season in Ottawa. This weekend, you can gather ideas for dresses, catering, honeymoons and more at the Wedding Palace Bridal Show at the Shaw Centre (January 14 and 15).

Rock on in Manotick

There’s lots of music on tap at the Mill Tavern in Manotick this weekend, with classic rock by The Bedrockers on Friday, January 13, and local singer-guitarist Jarek Anderson on Saturday, January 14.

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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