25 road trip ideas for the week: Owls, artisans, bingo, big band music, beer and the Harlem Globetrotters!

The ice is cracking! The snow is melting! Time to dance, shop, listen for owls, taste beer, enjoy some comedy, eat dessert, sing along to ABBA, thrill to a pipe band or catch an electronic music festival. And those are just a few of the options within an easy drive this week. Happy road tripping!

Watch for owls in Gatineau Park

Flickr/Creative Commons photo of a barred owl by Larry Smith.

The Friends of Gatineau Park are running an Owl Prowl in the park on Friday, April 7 (in English), and Saturday, April 8 (in French), led by an experienced birdwatcher. Listen for the distinctive hoots of owls in the forest, and learn about the different types of birds and their habits. Advance reservations are necessary.

Indulge in some retail therapy in Montreal

The Big Fashion Sale by Quebec Designers (April 6 to 9) is just what the name implies: a huge event with dozens of fashion and accessories designers gathered all in one place (in this case, the Marché Bonsecours in Old Montreal) to tempt shoppers to buy something new for spring. If you miss the Montreal show, the organizers are holding a similar event closer to home at the Hotel Hilton Lac Leamy in Gatineau (April 13 to 15).

Check out an urban maple fest in Ottawa

Baked beans, maple taffy and a lumberjack competition? Sure sounds like a sugar shack to me. But it’s not out in the country–it’s at Lansdowne Park on Saturday, April 8, when the inaugural Sugar Lumberfest sets up shop in the Horticulture Building. Buy your tickets in advance for one of three all-you-can-eat meal sittings, which include posh twists on traditional sugarbush favourites (think pork rillettes with onion confit and blueberry chutney, or smoked salmon with a soft-cooked egg on a nest of fried leeks).

Laugh out loud in Kingston

The Just for Laughs Roadshow 2017 rolls into Kingston’s Grand Theatre on Saturday, April 8. This year, it features standup comics Michael Kosta, Sabrina Jalees, K. Trevor Wilson and Yannis Pappas.

Enjoy a women’s day out in Ottawa or Vankleek Hill


Two women’s shows roll into the region this weekend. The National Women’s Show at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa (April 8 and 9) features 250 fashion, career, beauty, travel, food and home decor exhibitors. There will be fashion shows, cooking demonstrations, free beauty treatments and more.

Alternatively, you could take a pretty country drive to Vankleek Hill and catch the Yes, Women Can! show on Sunday, April, 9, which includes exhibitors’ booths, live entertainment, a purse exchange and a draw for a Canadian getaway. All attendees will get a cocktail, a snack and a goodie bag, too. The show aims to raise money to fund 10 bursaries ($500 each) for young women graduating from high school in the area.

Eat dessert for charity in Ottawa

Sure, dessert is an indulgence, but it’s for charity—so it’s all good, right? The Carefor Desserts event takes place on Saturday, April 8, at Ottawa’s Sala San Marco. Your ticket gets you brunch and lots of sweets, plus the chance to bid on goodies from more than 40 donors at a silent auction. Funds raised support Carefor’s programs for seniors living with mental health issues.

Catch a rising star in Brockville

The first-year students in St. Lawrence College’s music theatre performance program will be singing and dancing their hearts out for two New Faces shows this weekend (April 8 and 9) at the college’s Brockville Campus Student Lounge.

Thrill to pipers and dancers in Montreal

Black Watch Military Tattoo, 78th Fraser Highlanders, pipe, pipes, bagpipes, band

The 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band is among the many ensembles that will be performing at the Black Watch Military Tattoo. Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Heather.

Pipe and drum bands, brass bands, and dancers from a range of traditions—including Aboriginal, French Canadian, Irish, Scottish and Chinese—will all be participating in the Black Watch Military Tattoo at the Bell Centre in Montreal on the afternoon of Saturday, April 8. Tickets are available through Evenko.

Get home renovation inspiration in Carleton Place

You can find a little of almost everything at the Carleton Place Spring Home and Fashion Show (April 7 to 9). There’s a strong focus on home renovation, maintenance and design, with vendors showcasing everything from paint and landscaping to hot tubs and interior design. Other exhibitors will be selling jewellery, crafts and clothing, and there will also be live music, a pancake breakfast, 50/50 draws and special activities for kids.

Swing to big band tunes in Kemptville or Pembroke

Kemptville and District Home Support is throwing its first annual Big Band Dance on Saturday, April 8, featuring dancing, a cold buffet, a cash bar and a silent auction. Music at the fundraising event will be provided by the Jivewires. The same night, the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra is presenting We Got Rhythm, a night of big band swing tunes, at Festival Hall in Pembroke.

Get wedding ideas or shop for unique crafts in Ottawa

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Chris Photography.

Tying the knot this year? Then you might be interested in checking out the Ottawa Wedding Show (April 8 and 9) at the EY Centre, where you can browse for bridal dresses, caterers, photographers, wedding planners and more.

While you’re at the EY Centre, you could also check out Originals—The Spring Craft Sale (April 6 to 9). The immensely popular annual sale of handmade goods created by artisans from across Canada will include jewellery, shoes, purses, pottery, home decor items, clothing, candles and much more.

Play bingo for a good cause in Perth

With cocktails, dinner and live jazz, the Black Tie Bingo in Perth (Saturday, April 8) isn’t your typical bingo night. Proceeds from the fancy affair go to the Great War Memorial Hospital of Perth District Foundation.

Eat, drink and be merry in Syracuse

TAP into the MOST (Saturday, April 8) is a big fundraiser for the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse. Sample a range of beers and wines, along with the food and live entertainment included in the ticket price. Online ticket sales end at 6pm on Friday, April 7.

Check out digital art and music in Kingston


Do you like your culture on the cutting edge? Then the place to be this weekend is Kingston, where the city’s first Electric Circuits festival of electronic music and digital art will be taking place at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday, April 7, and the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning on Saturday, April 8. Featured artists include Booma Collective (see video above).

Catch a family movie in Toronto

Heading to Toronto with your family? You could check out the TIFF Kids International Film Festival (April 7 to 23) while you’re there. This event, the junior sibling of the Toronto International Film Festival, features both movies made for kids, as well as movies made by kids.

See monster trucks in Montreal

You can get your fix of really, really big trucks racing and crashing into each other at Monster Spectactular XXIII at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal on Saturday, April 8.

Sing along to pop tunes in Kingston

Divas Duets Quartets: Rock the Jukebox (select dates until Saturday, April 8) is a cabaret-style concert at the Grand Theatre in Kingston, featuring covers of Carole King, ABBA, the B52s, Simon and Garfunkel and many others. Audience participation is encouraged!

Cheer on the Harlem Globetrotters in Ottawa, Kingston or Montreal


See what is arguably the world’s most famous basketball team in action. The Harlem Globetrotters are coming to Kingston’s K-Rock Centre (April 5), Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre (April 7) and Montreal’s Bell Centre (April 9). Once you get that theme song in your head, it will haunt you for days.

Learn about art techniques in Carp

The West Carleton Arts Society is holding its spring art conference and luncheon, Spring Into Art V, at the Carp Agricultural Hall at the Carp Fairgrounds on Saturday, April 8. Speakers include Mary Pfaff (working in large formats), Pasi Nuutilainen (wood crafting), Maria Saracino (figurative sculpture), Judith Savic (mixed media) and Kathy McNenly (realist tradition in painting). Advance registration is required; see the website above for registration details.

Enjoy a nostalgic dance in Cumberland, Rankin or Bryson

Depending how far back your musical taste goes, you have your choice of three dances on Saturday, April 8. St. Andrew’s United Church is holding a fundraising Old Tyme Dance for square dance fans at the Maple Hall in Cumberland, featuring live music from the Tiger Island Trio. There’s a ’50s and ’60s Dance at the Rankin Culture and Recreation Centre with live tunes by Eddy and the Stingrays. Costumes are encouraged and you need to buy your tickets in advance from local retailers. And finally, the Bryson Lions are holding an Old Time Dance with music by Nelson Towns.

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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2 Responses to 25 road trip ideas for the week: Owls, artisans, bingo, big band music, beer and the Harlem Globetrotters!

  1. Jane Peddle April 6, 2017 at 7:18 am #

    Newsletter very much appreciated. New to the area and enjoy the ideas and information.

    • Laura Byrne Paquet April 11, 2017 at 10:12 am #

      I’m glad you enjoy it! Welcome to the area. There’s a lot to explore and enjoy.

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