28 road trip ideas: Beach yoga, Aislin, line dancing, perogies, shawarma, rescue dogs and Gordon Lightfoot!

Have you ever been sitting on your couch thinking, “Gee, I wish I could play some cow chip bingo this weekend?” Perhaps not, but there’s always a first time, right? Bovine biomass bingo is just one of your many, many options this week, which also include an alternative theatre festival in Kingston, a country jamboree in the Pontiac, a Lebanese festival in Ottawa, and top-notch tennis in Toronto and Montreal. Happy road tripping!

Groove to the music in Kemptville


Gordon Lightfoot, Burton Cummings, Dwight Yoakam, Liona Boyd and David Wilcox are among the big names at the Kemptville Live Music Festival (July 20 to 23). A shuttle service on the first three days of the festival will bring in festival fans from parking lots across North Grenville. Food vendors will be dishing up barbecue, Asian tacos, fries, kebabs, fruit fondue and other treats.

Take in a fair in Avonmore or Lansdowne

Feel like a fair? The amusements at the Avonmore Fair (July 21 to 23) include trapeze artist performances, a car show, horse shows and a tractor parade. On the same dates, the Lansdowne Fair will be offering a midway, a visit from “Sir John A. Macdonald,” and tractor and ATV pulls, along with activities as diverse as cow chip bingo, toilet bowl races and a rabbit hopping competition (not all at the same time).

Live on the cutting edge in Kingston

On Friday, the third annual Kick and Push Festival opens in Kingston (July 22 to August 13). It will bring another season of innovative, interactive theatre to theatres and more unusual venues (including private living rooms) across the Limestone City. Productions include a family-friendly DJ show called Kid Koala’s Vinyl Vaudeville; a play about two female BFFs who unexpectedly wake up in bed together; a show about a Canadian teen pop idol; and a staging of Othello.

Get musical at Tremblant

Les Rythmes Tremblant (July 21 to 30) is a free slate of musical performances at Mont Tremblant, many of them family oriented. Artists from across Canada will be performing everything from reggae to country. There’s even some magic and comedy in the mix.

Groove to the Eagles in Brockville

Mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice/We are all just prisoners here, of our own device…. Yes, I’m probably dating myself by revealing that I know all the words to Hotel California by heart. If you do, too, a tribute show called Hotel California: An Evening of the Eagles’ Greatest Hits (July 19 and 20) may just draw you to the Brockville Arts Centre. But if you’re driving there, remember that life in the fast lane surely makes you lose your mind. (Okay, I’ll stop now.)

Get artsy in the Madawaska Valley or the Eastern Townships

Life is Good by Linda Sorenson is among the works that will be featured during the Madawaska Studio Tour. Image courtesy of Linda Sorenson.

Life is Good by Linda Sorenson, one of the artists participating in the Madawaska Studio Tour. Image courtesy of Linda Sorenson.

A studio tour is a wonderful excuse for a country drive. This week, the Madawaska Studio Tour (July 22 and 23) takes you to 18 studios scattered across a wide swath of Eastern Ontario, from Barry’s Bay to Quadeville, and from Purdy to Golden Lake. It’s also the second and final week of the Tour des Arts in the Eastern Townships (until July 23) and the opening of the Festival des Arts Georgeville-Fitch Bay, also in the Eastern Townships (July 22 to 30).

Get a little bit country in the Outaouais

Country tunes are the star attraction at the Shawville Lions Country Jamboree (July 20 to 23) in West Quebec’s Pontiac region. Performers will include Neville Wells, the Douglas Connection and the house band, Unwound.

If you happen to wander into the small Outaouais town of Saint-André-Avellin over the next few weeks, you might think you’ve taken a wrong turn and ended up in Calgary. Shrink the Calgary Stampede just a bit, subtract the oil and the Rocky Mountains, and add a generous helping of Québécois joie de vivre, and you’d end up with something pretty close to the Festival Western Saint-André-Avellin (July 21 to 30). This event is huge, with gymkhana and rodeo competitions, line dancing, country music concerts, a parade and much more. Saint-André-Avellin is about 10 minutes north of Papineauville.

Enjoy military spectacles in Ottawa and Kingston

This week, you have the chance to take in not one, but two, grand spectacles involving massed military bands in historic locales. Close to home, Fortissimo returns to Parliament Hill for three nights (July 20 to 22, 7pm each evening). Bands, pipe and drum corps, guest artists and Ceremonial Guard soldiers will present music and routines that combine elements of Beating Retreat (traditionally performed in a fort at sunset) and Tattoo (music once played later in the evening as the last watch was set). Arrive early, as the free show typically draws a big crowd.

Fort Henry Tattoo small

Photo courtesy of Fort Henry.

Meanwhile, in Kingston, the Fort Henry Annual Tattoo (Saturday, July 22) is also known for attracting a large and enthusiastic audience. You need tickets for this one, and the organizers advise buying them in advance to avoid disappointment. This event also features massed military bands (fife, brass, pipes and drums) and adds a fireworks show to the mix. The Regimental Band of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, the HMCS Ontario Band, the Smiths Falls Gordon Pipe Band, and the Rob Roy Pipe Band and Highland Dancers will be among those joining the Drums of the Fort Henry Guard.

Rock on in Brockville

The DIFA Summer Festival in Brockville (July 21 and 22) offers a little something for everyone. Almost a dozen musical acts will be on stage over the two days, including AC/DC and U2 tribute bands, and food, beer and craft vendors will be on hand. The event is a fundraiser for local school music programs.

See innovative theatre in Gatineau Park


Yukon’s Ramshackle Theatre brings its signature production, Theatre in the Bush, to the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park for three nights (July 20 to 22), as part of the Canada Scene festival. Interact with the performers and the setting while noshing on northern-inspired food.

Giggle at Aislin cartoons in Montreal

Arguably Canada’s most famous editorial cartoonist, Aislin is the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the McCord Museum of Canadian History in Montreal. The show has been running for a few months and you have until Sunday, August 13, to see it.

Catch a music festival in Kingston or Palmer Rapids

The Canadian Guitar Festival in Kingston (July 28 to 30) features some of the world’s leading fingerstyle guitar players. And the Palmer Rapids Twin Music Festival (July 27 to 30) bills itself as two festivals—country and bluegrass—in one, on the banks of the Madawaska River south of Barry’s Bay.

Celebrate Ukrainian and Lebanese culture in Ottawa

Photo courtesy of the Capital Ukrainian Festival.

Photo courtesy of the Capital Ukrainian Festival.

Nosh on perogies and garlic sausage. Shop for traditional embroidery and ceramics. Tap your toes to music and dancers, bring the kids to a petting zoo, or take a workshop focusing on skills such as beadwork and egg paintining. All this and more is on the schedule at the Capital Ukrainian Festival (July 21 to 23), taking place on the grounds of the St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Shrine on Green Valley Crescent (near Baseline and Prince of Wales).

A stone’s throw from the Ukrainian festivities, Ottawa’s Lebanese community is celebrating its heritage during the Ottawa Lebanese Festival (July 19 to 23) at the St. Elias Cathedral near Mooney’s Bay. Visitors can enjoy a midway, eat falafel and shawarma, and see dancers, musicians, cultural displays and more. There’s a free shuttle service from the Canada Post headquarters parking lot.

Get active in Ontario parks

Friday, July 21, is Healthy Parks Healthy People Day, and parks across Eastern Ontario are offering special activities to encourage people to get some fresh air and exercise. Both Bonnechere and Bon Echo parks are offering yoga on the beach, while Algonquin has a slate of deals ranging from free kayak rentals to free guided bike tours. That’s just a taste of what’s available in a wide range of parks; check the full events calendar for details. And did I mention that admissions to all Ontario provincial parks are free that day? (You’ll still need to pay if you want to stay overnight.)

Punk out in Ottawa

This year’s Sitting on the Outside (SOTO) Fest is expanding from last year’s initial one-day event to a four-day all-things-punk bash (July 20 to 23). Venues include House of Targ, the Dominion Tavern and, weirdly, the Kent Street Legion.

Enjoy big band music in Trenton


The sixth annual Trenton Big Band Festival swings into the Bay of Quinte-area city this weekend (July 22 to 23). Performers include the Toronto All-Star Big Band (see video), Freddy Vette and the Commodores Orchestra, and the Rhythm and Truth Brass Band.

Catch two plays in Gananoque

This week at the Springer Theatre, you can catch the premiere of Leading Ladies (July 21 to August 19), a screwball comedy about two actors who decide to pose as a rich woman’s nieces so they can inherit her fortune. In addition, Maggie and Pierre is on at the Firehall Theatre until July 30. Both venues are part of the Thousand Islands Playhouse.

See Montcalm’s victory re-enacted at Fort Ticonderoga

Many Canadians are more familiar with Montcalm’s defeat on the Plains of Abraham, but the year before that battle, he scored a stunning victory over British forces in the 1758 Battle of Carillon at what is now Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York. You can see a re-enactment of that clash at the fort this weekend (July 22 and 23), complete with uniformed soldiers and the smoke of battle.

Cheer on tennis champs in Montreal or Toronto

Montreal will be hosting the men’s tournament of the Rogers Cup from August 4 to August 13 at Uniprix Stadium, while the women’s tournament will take place in Toronto from August 5 to August 13 at the Aviva Centre. Seventy of the top 75 players in the world—including Andy Murray, Angelique Kerber and Rafael Nadal—will be competing.

Take your dog to Gananoque

What dog doesn’t love a road trip? Here’s an outing just for them: the Thousand Islands Bark Bash (Saturday, July 22), which brings canines and their human companions together to browse for doggie goodies from a range of vendors, see demonstrations and meet rescue dogs looking for new homes.

Enjoy chamber music in Ottawa

Chamberfest, the world’s largest chamber music festival, brings ensembles to theatres, churches, galleries and other venues around the city—even Beechwood Cemetery—from July 22 to August 4. Artists include the Miró Quartet, Angela Hewitt and Stephen Hough. Among many other concerts, there’s a 50th anniversary performance of songs from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on Friday, August 4.

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