27 road trip ideas: Dance in Smiths Falls, meet artists in Orleans, hike a new trail or watch the Sens!

Whether you’d rather learn about wine in Wakefield, tap your toes to Stompin’ Tom tunes in Pembroke, hike an Ontario trail or see Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, I’ve got a tip for you this week. Happy travels!

Shop locally in Kemptville

Kemptville, canoeing

Photo of Kemptville copyright Laura Byrne Paquet.

More than 60 vendors—everyone from language teachers and beekeepers to jewellers and winemakers—will be on hand for this year’s Shop Local Showcase Kemptville on Saturday, April 22. As well as browsing their wares, you can also fuel up at food trucks, browse goodies at a community garage sale, and get up close and personal with wee critters (rabbits, hedgehogs, birds and more) from the Zoo Crew.

Cheer on the Sens in Ottawa

Couldn’t get tickets to the big game? Can’t make it to Boston? Don’t worry: CBC has a list of some of the best places in Ottawa to watch the Ottawa Senators face off against the Boston Bruins on TV.

Learn about wine in Wakefield and Gatineau

Le Hibou Kitchen and Bar in Wakefield is holding Stobert’s Wine Bar 101, an informal $20 wine tasting class with sommelier Christina Stobert, on Friday, April 21. It starts at 5pm and advance reservations are required.

At Soif Wine Bar in Gatineau, a workshop on natural wines (in French) is taking place on Saturday, April 22, from 4pm to 6pm. Tickets are $75 and include canapés and six wines.

See Cirque du Soleil’s VOLTA in Montreal

Cirque du Soleil’s newest show, VOLTA, is coming to Montreal. The intriguing plot summary? “Waz, a popular game show host, has lost touch with his inner self in the pursuit of fame. But as doubt sets in, Waz is enlightened by childhood memories as he encounters free spirits who open doors to his inner soul he has long kept shut.” But hey, it’s Cirque du Soleil, so you’re not here for the plot, right? You’re here for the incredible acrobatics. The show runs under a big top in Old Montreal from April 20 to July 23.

Greet the dawn in Carleton Place


Flickr/Creative Commons photo by kcxd.

Here’s an unusual way to welcome Earth Day on Saturday, April 22: Take a sunrise walk through the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth at 6am, followed by breakfast. The labyrinth is located at 267 Edmund Street, behind the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.

Hear Canadian authors in Prince Edward County and Kingston

The Prince Edward County Authors Festival (April 20 to 22) focuses on emerging and established Canadian authors, who will be giving readings and selling books. Participating writers include Joy Fielding, Andrew Forbes and Merilyn Simonds.

Zoe Whittall, who is appearing at the Prince Edward County event, will also be reading at Writers and Friends Kingston 2017 on Sunday, April 23, along with David Bergen, Stephen Heighton and Dr. Danielle Martin. The event raises money to help marginalized people in Mexico and Central America.

Buy a new-to-you book in Ottawa

You can browse for used volumes at the Rockcliffe Park Spring Book Sale (April 22 and 23), taking place at the Rockcliffe Park branch of the Ottawa Public Library at 380 Springfield Road. (It’s not to be confused with the local public school’s big book sale, which happens in the fall.)

Hike, run or bike on an Ontario trail

Now that the snow is just about gone, are you itching to discover new trails? Then check out Ontario Trails’ extensive directory of routes suitable for hiking, running or off-road biking. Just make sure to check in advance that your chosen trail is open for the season; some of them are still pretty mushy. But you can still plan ahead, right?

Dance the night away in Smiths Falls

The Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario in Smiths Falls is holding its fundraising Emerald Gala on Saturday, April 22. The Irish-themed event, which will celebrate the twinning of Smiths Falls with the city of Wicklow in Ireland, will feature a cocktail hour, dinner, a silent auction, dancing to a live band and more.

Enjoy guitar and fiddle tunes in Almonte

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Scott Merritt is the featured artist for this year’s final show in the Folkus Concert Series on Saturday, April 22. Opening for him is Shawville fiddler Ursula Schultz.

Rock on in Toronto

Canadian Music Week (April 18 to 23) is a bit of a misnomer: The Toronto event is actually many festivals and conferences in one, with separate streams focusing on music, comedy, radio, film and more. Just in music, the huge range of performers includes the Strumbellas, Tanya Tagaq, Melissa Etheridge and the Dandy Warhols.

Meet artists in Orleans and Manotick

Katharine Fletcher art

Spirit Horse: Feathered War Horse by Katharine Fletcher, one of the featured artists in the Artists With Attitude show in Orleans. Photo courtesy of Katharine Fletcher.

Artists With Attitude, a show featuring works by members of Ottawa Mixed Media Artists, runs at the Shenkman Arts Centre in Orleans from April 20 to May 16. This Sunday, April 23, you can meet some of the artists during a vernissage from 1pm to 3pm.

Also this weekend, the Manotick Art Association presents Inspirations 2017, its spring show and sale (April 21 to 23), at the Manotick Curling Centre. You can meet the artists at the vernissage, on Friday, April 21, from 6:30 to 9:30pm. Vernissage tickets include two glasses of wine, finger foods and live music.

Hear stories of Stompin’ Tom in Pembroke

Stompin’ Tom Connors’ backup band, Whiskey Jack, plays Festival Hall in Pembroke on Saturday, April 22. Along with Stompin’ Tom’s famous songs, expect to hear lots of stories about Canada’s beloved singer in this show.

Take the kids to an Ottawa festival

The Ottawa Grassroots Festival (April 20 to 23) is a family-friendly event featuring music, dance and spoken-word performances at Southminster United Church in Old Ottawa South. Performers this year include folk/roots singer-songwriter Ken Whiteley and the Beulah Band; Ottawa-based Egyptian-Canadian singer Malak; acoustic duo Geneviève RB and Alain Barbeau; and the One World Choir of new Canadians. Workshops will focus on everything from songwriting to building a cigar-box guitar.

See funny “male strippers” in Ottawa, Brockville or Kingston

Comic Strippers

Photo courtesy of the Comic Strippers.

The Comic Strippers is a one-of-a-kind blend of improv comedy and male stripper parody. It’s for adults only, but the slogan is “No extreme nudity, just extreme hilarity.” They’re in Brockville on Friday, April 21; Ottawa on Saturday, April 22; and Kingston on Sunday, April 23.

Expand your wardrobe in Carleton Place and Maberly

Looking for something involving tulle, crinolines, sequins or psychedelic fabrics? Then check out the Vintage Clothing Sale at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum (April 21 to 23).

Meanwhile, a fashion show at the Fall River restaurant in Maberly on Friday, April 21, will feature new items by Perth-based Strévé Design. The fundraiser for the Perth and District Community Foundation also includes a three-course dinner.

Enjoy classic Canadian rock in Gananoque

If you love timeless Cancon tunes by Neil Young, the Stampeders, Buffy Sainte-Marie, the Band, Joni Mitchell and Chilliwack, check out a cabaret-style tribute concert called The Canadian Songbook: The Early Years. It’s on at the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque on April 22 and 23.

Taste Prince Edward County—without leaving Ottawa

barn quilt Prince Edward County Ontario

Photo of a barn quilt in Prince Edward County by Laura Byrne Paquet.

For the sixth year, Savvy Company is hosting County in the Capital, a one-night event to sample wines, craft beers, ciders and cheeses from Prince Edward County. The event takes place at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park on Thursday, April 20. (Hey, if you’re interested in the County, you can also check out my 2016 daytripping article about PEC in the Ottawa Citizen.)

See a comedy-drama in Perth

BarnDoor Productions is staging The Tin Woman, a new comedy-drama by emerging author Sean Grennan, at the Full Circle Theatre in Perth (April 21 to 30). It tells the tale of a woman who receives a heart transplant and goes in search of the donor’s family.

Hop aboard the Beer and Wine Train in Utica

This year, there will be nine Beer and Wine Trains on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad route between Utica and Remsen, New York. The first one leaves Utica  (about 310 kilometres south of Ottawa) on Friday, April 21. Along the 32-kilometre route (64 kilometres for the whole round trip), passengers can sip beer and wine, and enjoy light snacks (including Cabot Cheese from Vermont), while listening to live music from the Hazbins.

Suss out products for boomers in Ottawa

The Fifty-Five Plus Lifestyle Show comes to the EY Centre on April 21 and 22. Chat with exhibitors representing everything from travel companies to retirement residences, enjoy music by Wayne Rostad, get gardening tips from Mark Cullen, and pick up some new recipes from Food Network Canada’s Anna Olson (above).

Dig into a pancake breakfast in Renfrew

Valley Heritage Radio is holding a fundraising breakfast for its annual radiothon at the Renfrew Legion on Saturday, April 22, from 8am to noon. Bring the kids for free painting and colouring, and chow down on pancakes, sausages and maple syrup while enjoying live music by the Kyle Felhaver Band.

Catch a rising playwright in Ottawa

At the Ottawa Little Theatre this weekend, you can attend a public reading of the winning entries in the 76th National One-Act Playwriting Competition on Saturday, April 22. Hear feedback from an adjudicator and provide your own during an audience Q&A.

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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