27 road trip ideas: Comedy, whisky, art, country fairs and music, music, music!

If you love music—just about any kind of music, from classical or bluegrass to indie rock or country—I have a road trip for you this weekend. Concerts not your thing? No worries; I’ve also found studio tours and art shows, an ice cream festival, a whisky tasting, a film festival, a tennis tournament, two country fairs, and productions of Same Time Next Year and Man of La Mancha. Happy road tripping!

Be festive in Perth


This weekend marks the 26th anniversary of Perth’s popular Stewart Park Festival (July 14 to 16). The free music festival presents a huge range of artists—from Sue Foley and Lindi Ortega to Valdy (see video above) and River City Junction—on three stages. You can even canoe to a stage on a floating golf green, hosted by Perth Outfitters. Between shows, you can browse in artisan and food markets, or enjoy workshops or family activities. Shuttle buses will be circling the town to ferry visitors from parking lots to the festival site. While the festival is free, you can donate at the gate if you like.

Head to a fair in Almonte or Odessa

Two communities get a jump on the busy fall fair season by holding their festivities in the summer! The Almonte Fair (July 14 to 16) features livestock shows, a demolition derby, live music, a chili cookoff, a midway, sheep herding demonstrations and more. Also this weekend, the Odessa Fair (July 13 to 16) offers a midway, a horse show, a tractor pull, concerts, livestock shows, a beer garden, bingo and other fun.

Celebrate Bonnechere’s 50th anniversary

beach at Bonnechere Provincial Park

Photo of a beach at Bonnechere Provincial Park courtesy of Ontario Parks.

Bonnechere Provincial Park is marking its 50th anniversary this week with all sorts of special events, including storytelling, guided canoe tours and hikes, live music, and more. It all wraps up with a closing ceremony and the burial of a time capsule on Saturday, July 15. Use the Ontario Parks events link and type “Bonnechere” in the search box to see the whole list of events. You can read more about the park’s history in this entertaining Ontario Parks blog post.

Enjoy top-level tennis in Gatineau

High-ranking male and female tennis players from across Canada will be competing in the Gatineau National Bank Challenger tournament from July 15 to 23. There’s a family day on Saturday, July 15 (rain date Sunday, July 16), and admission will be free to all events that weekend.

Hum along to Man of La Mancha in Kingston

A brave knight, a trusty squire, a beautiful lady love, a few windmills and some unforgettable songs—that’s the recipe that has made Man of La Mancha an enduring musical hit for more than 50 years. Blue Canoe brings its production of the popular show to the Domino Theatre in Kingston from July 12 to 22.

Enjoy a sound and light show on Parliament Hill

Mosaika sound and light show on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo of Mosaika sound and light show on Parliament Hill in Ottawa by Tony Webster.

Northern Lights, the multimedia show projected onto the Centre Block on Parliament Hill, returns this week for its 2017 season (July 11 to September 16). In July, the show starts at 10pm. Admission is free. (The photo above comes from a previous sound and light show, but it gives you an idea of what you can expect.)

Be a little bit country in Wendover

With line dancing, a comedy show, an arts and crafts market, kids’ activities and more, the Wendover Western Festival (July 11 to 16) offers lots to do even if you wouldn’t know Toby Keith from Toby Maguire. But if you do know your country music, there are all sorts of shows to enjoy.

Enjoy classical music in Dunvegan or Luskville


The Glengarry Pioneer Museum is presenting an outdoor concert by Nü Trio, a classical string trio from Montreal (see video above), on Thursday, July 13.

On Saturday, July 15, Venturing Hills equestrian centre in Luskville will be hosting a gala evening in its Pontiac Enchanté music series. The evening will feature pianists Karim Said and Carson Becke, and violinist Boson Mo, and includes a catered dinner that will be held outdoors if weather permits.

See antique machines in Athens

The 38th annual Farmersville Exhibition in Athens (July 14 to 16) will have a wide range of vintage machinery, antique vehicles and steam-powered engines on display. You can also enjoy live country music, a craft fair, pancake breakfasts and a tractor pull, and there are kids’ activities, too.

Put on your dancing boots in Renfrew

This week, music fans can check out the Valley Bluegrass Festival in Renfrew (July 13 to 16), which brings bands from the Ottawa Valley, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and elsewhere to Johnston’s Farm for four days of family-friendly fun and tunes.

Laugh till it hurts in Montreal


Need a good giggle? The Just for Laughs Festival (July 12 to July 31) may be just the ticket. Comics on stage this year include Jerry Seinfeld, Trevor Noah (above), Ali Wong, Craig Ferguson and Rick Mercer.

Enjoy two studio tours in Quebec

Two wide-ranging studio tours are happening this week and next (July 15 to 23) in Quebec. The Route des Arts winds through the southern Laurentians and features close to 30 artists and artisans, while the similarly named Tour des Arts focuses on the Eastern Townships and showcases 44 creators. (If you love studio tours but can’t make it to these, check out my roundup of 25+ studio tours within easy reach of Ottawa.)

Catch a comedy classic in Perth

This weekend is your last chance to catch the Classic Theatre Festival’s production of Same Time Next Year by Bernard Slade (running until July 16). Later in the season, the festival will present Candida by George Bernard Shaw and I’ll Be Back Before Midnight by Peter Colley. Throughout the summer, the Perth professional theatre company also offers daytime and nighttime walking tours/theatre performances hinging on Lanark County history.

Check out vintage and modern British cars in Ottawa


Attention fans of British cars: The Ottawa All British Car Day is taking place at Britannia Park on Saturday, July 15. This year, the event will shine a special spotlight on Land Rovers, but I’ll bet you’ll see more than a few Rolls-Royces, Jags and MGs there, too.

Raise a glass in Kingston

On Thursday, July 13, whisky expert Sylvain Bouffard will be guiding a group of sippers through a session of whisky tastings and food pairings at Bellevue House, Sir John A. Macdonald’s one-time home in Kingston. The cost is $59.95 and reservations are required. If you can’t make it this week but are interested, Bouffard will be offering similar sessions on August 3 and August 17.

Thrill to pipers in Brockville

Brockville Pipes and Drums is holding its second summer concert on Blockhouse Island in Brockville on Wednesday, July 12. There will also be concerts on August 2 and September 6. All shows start at 7pm.

Catch volleyball and the Strumbellas at Mooney’s Bay


The world’s largest one-day volleyball tournament rolls into Mooney’s Bay on Saturday, July 15. The H.O.P.E. Volleyball SummerFest features volleyball games galore (natch), concerts by the Strumbellas (see video above), USS and Lowest of the Low, and lots of other fun under the sun. Proceeds will support six charities.

Browse for art in Perth or Renfrew

The Rideau Lakes Artists Association, a group of more than 100 artists from small towns and rural spots along the Rideau River system, is holding its annual art show and sale this weekend. Paint the Summer, a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity, is taking place at the Perth campus of Algonquin College at 7 Craig Street on July 15 and 16. Parking and admission are free, and you can also catch a shuttle bus from the campus to the Stewart Park Festival.

Meanwhile, in Renfrew, Art in the Park (July 15 and 16) will bring artists and art lovers together under tents at Haramis Park. The family-friendly event showcases pieces made in a wide range of media.

Dance in the streets in Maniwaki

The Festival d’été de Maniwaki (July 14 and 15) will bring two days of free musical performances to the rue des Oblats in this Outaouais community. Musical guests include Gars d’Bois, Les Soeurs Boulay and Annie Villeneuve. On Saturday, the whole shebang will end with fireworks at 10:30pm.

Take the kids out for ice cream at the Central Experimental Farm

ice cream

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Marco Verch.

It’s just a hunch, but I think the Ice Cream Festival at the Central Experimental Farm (Sunday, July 16) will be a big hit with families. Kids can learn to make ice cream, meet a beekeeper, try their hand at “milking” a wooden cow and—of course—eat lots of ice cream.

Catch a horror, SF or fantasy movie in Montreal

The Fantasia International Film Festival (July 13 to August 2) is a wide-ranging Montreal event that screens genre films from around the world, including science fiction, fantasy and horror movies. You might see a Hollywood blockbuster or you could discover an indie gem you’d never find at your local multiplex.

Celebrate Pride in Brockville

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Benson Kua.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Benson Kua.

Brockville Pride Week (July 10 to 15) features a wide range of fun for members and allies of the LGBTQ community, from a potluck dinner and a pub night to a parade.

Shop through the past in Barry’s Bay

Shop as you might have a century ago on a one-hour historical “merchants’ tour” of Barry’s Bay on Friday, July 14. Local historian Theresa Prince will bring the town’s history—retail and otherwise—to life. To register, go to the visitor centre in the old railway station.

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