25 road trip ideas: Vankleek Hill Porchfest, Delta Fair, Herbfest in White Lake and La Machine!

It’s not every week I can say, “Monsters are going to be rampaging through the streets of downtown Ottawa!” This week it’s true, though—and the really bizarre thing is that they’re not the only mythical creatures on the move this week. Up at Tremblant, you can immerse yourself in the tale of a newly awakened sleeping giant.

If more down-to-earth amusements are more your speed, I also have the details on country fairs in Beachburg and Delta, porch concerts in Vankleek Hill, ribfests in Cornwall and Perth, a fishing derby in the Adirondacks, art exhibitions in the Outaouais and a Victorian high tea at the Central Experimental Farm—plus the chance to see Trooper! Happy travels.

Hear free music in Vankleek Hill


So, I hear you wondering: What’s a porchfest? It’s an event where local musicians perform on residential porches, for free. The first one took place in Ithaca, New York, in 2007, and the concept has since spread across North America. The Vankleek Hill Porchfest on Saturday, July 29, will feature musicians of all sorts, in a town full of gingerbread-trimmed Victorian houses. The video above gives you a taste of the 2015 event.

Nosh your way around a downtown park in Kingston

The 19th annual Taste of Kingston event comes to Confederation Basin Park in downtown Kingston on Sunday, July 30, from 9:30am to 3pm. Local restaurants will be providing “Taste Bites” of some of their favourite dishes and proceeds will go to the Canadian Diabetes Association (so, yes, there will be diabetes-friendly food choices).

Get your country fix in Gatineau

The 25th annual Festival Country Gatineau swings onto the Casino Lac-Leamy property this weekend for 10 days of boot-stomping music with Québécois flair (July 28 to August 6). Sixteen acts will be taking to the stage, including Cayouche, Louis Bérubé, Irvin Blais and Coco Country Band.

See giant machines in Ottawa

You’ve likely heard about La Machine by now, but just in case you haven’t, here’s the scoop. A street theatre company from France called La Machine is bringing two of its enormous mechanical creatures to the streets of Ottawa from July 27 to July 30. The theatre piece hangs on a story about a giant spider, Kumo, injuring a half-horse, half-dragon called Long Ma and stealing his temple. However, I imagine the vast majority of spectators will ignore the story and just focus on the spectacle of a fire-breathing dragon-horse battling a spider that can walk over bus shelters. More details and the schedule of appearances are available on the Ottawa 2017 website.

La Machine giant mechanical spider in Yokohama, Japan.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo of La Machine in Yokohama, Japan, by Yusuke D.

P.S.: If you’re not interested in the machines but plan on driving downtown any time in those four days, check that same page for details on related road closures in the central core. The road closures are understandable. After all, I’m sure no one wants to deal with an insurance adjuster looking into their claim that their “car was crushed by a giant spider during a battle with a dragon-horse.”

Meet Outaouais artists in Old Chelsea and Montebello

Two Outaouais artists—Katharine Fletcher from Quyon and Heather Lamorie from Chelsea—are featured in a new show at La Fab Arts Centre in Old Chelsea. Both artists celebrate and try to capture in art the spirits they believe exist in every animal. Animal Spirits runs from July 27 to August 20, and you can meet both artists at the vernissage on Thursday, July 27, from 5pm to 7pm. (As a bonus, you can check out the local farmers’ market in the centre’s front yard at the same time!)

Later in the week, the Les Couleurs du manoir symposium at the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site in Montebello (July 29 and 30) will feature some 40 painters, sculptors and other artists.

Thrill to a multimedia show in Gatineau or Tremblant

Agwàtà—a multimedia show projected on a water screen—focuses on the history of the Outaouais, from the area’s first inhabitants to the Great Fire of 1900. It’s showing nightly behind La Filature arts centre in central Hull until Sunday, July 30.

A new multimedia show opened at Mont Tremblant on July 20 and is running until October 9. Tonga Lumina was created by Moment Factory, the same folks behind the Kontinuum show in Ottawa’s Lyon LRT station and the Lumina Borealis show that ran at Fort Henry last winter. Moment Factory is a bit of a juggernaut, actually; it has created productions ranging from the illumination of the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal to Red Hot Chili Peppers concerts. Visitors to the Tremblant show will be invited to wander a 1.5-kilometre trail through a dark forest to meet a giant who has supposedly recently awoken in the forest after a long sleep.

Enjoy a fair in Beachburg or Delta

The Beachburg Fair (July 28 to 30) features everything from livestock competitions to a pet show, a demolition derby and a midway. Also this weekend, the fun at the Delta Fair (July 27 to 30) includes puppet shows, stand-up comedy, step dancing, magic, lawn mower races and lots of other amusements.

Delight in a Victorian tea in Ottawa

teacup with pink flowers

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Anne Swoboda.

Get ready to curl that pinky finger! It’s time for Victorian tea on the lawn at the Central Experimental Farm (Sunday, July 30, 2pm to 4pm). Participants are encouraged to don their best 19th-century apparel, including their most flamboyant hats, but neither costumes nor reservations are required. Nibble on scones and finger sandwiches while listening to live music. Note that the event will be cancelled if it rains.

Rock on in Mattawa

Mattawa Voyageur Days (July 28 to 30) will serve up a little something for everyone, whether you want to take a helicopter ride, watch some Thai boxing, shop for crafts, take the little ones to the kids’ zone or raise a little hell at a Trooper concert. Mattawa is on the Ottawa River, about 3.5 hours northwest of Ottawa.

Revel in world cultures in Montreal

Flickr/Creative Commons photo of Cuban sandwiches by Tammy Gordon.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo of Cuban sandwiches by Tammy Gordon.

This weekend, Montreal is home to two festivals celebrating international cultures: Haiti en folie (July 26 to 30) and Festival Cubaneando, celebrating all things Cuban (July 29).

Enjoy a concert inside a heritage mill in Spencerville

The PepTides are a nine-member group whose music blends everything from disco to funk. They’re playing the cozy, 135-seat space inside the Spencerville Mill on Thursday, July 27, as part of the Music at the Mill series.

Play by the lake in Plattsburgh


Do you like fishing? Or are personal watercraft (aka Jet Skis) more your style? Either way, Summer Fest ’17 on the New York shore of Lake Champlain (July 29 and 30) has you covered. The Plattsburgh event features both a bass fishing tournament and watercraft races, as well as kids’ activities, food trucks, beach volleyball and other fun on shore.

Raise a glass in Stowe or Toronto

Cheers! The Stowe Brewers Festival (July 28 and 29) will have fans of craft beer, cider and spirits heading to Vermont this weekend. The event takes place at Mayo Events Field and features food trucks, live music, and more than 40 brewers and cider makers. New to the festival this year are Collective Arts Brewing from Hamilton, Ontario; Halyard Brewing from South Burlington, Vermont; and Moonlight Meadery from Londonderry, New Hampshire.

If you like your brews in a big-city setting, there’s also Toronto’s Festival of Beer at Exhibition Place (July 28 to 30). Friday tickets are sold out, but some tickets for Saturday and Sunday are still available.

Learn about herbs in White Lake

chopping herbs

Photo copyright Laura Byrne Paquet, Ottawa Road Trips.

The Ottawa Valley Midsummer Herbfest comes to the Waba Cottage Museum in White Lake on Sunday, July 30. Billing itself as “a celebration of healthy living,” it offers everything from a chef cook-off and kids’ activities to pontoon boat rides and yoga. You can join an herb walk, learn about herbal teas and explore 11 themed gardens by the lake. There will be live music and a vendors’ market, too.

Enjoy art in three provincial parks in Ontario

The Friends of Bon Echo Provincial Park are running their 22nd annual exhibition and sale of original Canadian art this weekend (July 28 to 30). Participating artists work in a wide range of media. Visitors can also enjoy children’s activities, live entertainment, a barbecue and more.

At Bonnechere Provincial Park, artist Kim Hanewich will be leading free charcoal and pencil drawing sessions on Sunday, July 30, beginning at 10am.

Quite a bit further afield, the Friends of Killarney Park are holding their annual art show and sale on July 29 and 30, featuring works by 12 artists, many of whom have hiked and paddled through the park’s landscapes.

Eat and drink your way around Asia…in Ottawa


The Ottawa Asian Festival Night Market (July 28 to 30) switches from Lansdowne Park to Chinatown this year, but it looks like the popular combination of food vendors and live entertainment will remain the same. Sip bubble tea or beer, cheer on China Doll (billed as “Ottawa’s Drag Impresario Karaoke Queen”), and try squid on a stick. The action happens on Somerset Street West, between Bronson Avenue and Arthur Street. (Note the video above is from 2016, so the dates are different.)

Chow down on barbecue in Cornwall or Perth

Sharpen those teeth and get ready for a jaw workout: Two ribfests are vying for your attention (and appetite) this weekend. At the Cornwall Ribfest (July 27 to 30), six different “ribbers” will be tempting visitors with juicy barbecue. There will also be live entertainment, including tribute bands dedicated to Garth Brooks, ZZ Top and Nickelback.

Meanwhile, the third annual edition of the Perth Ribfest (July 28 to 30) will feature food vendors, kids’ activities, a car show, music and more. It takes place at the Perth Fairgrounds.

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.

Are you promoting an upcoming event you’d like to see in a future weekly road trip roundup? Please email me the details at least two weeks in advance of the event, and I’ll add them to my files. If you have a horizontal photo or two I could use, even better. Thanks!

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2 Responses to 25 road trip ideas: Vankleek Hill Porchfest, Delta Fair, Herbfest in White Lake and La Machine!

  1. Brenda Ambrose July 31, 2017 at 7:36 pm #

    Loved the video ! It was great & hope more people check out your wonderful site! I look forward to every week to enter contests, see what’s up & coming in the next week…I am ALWAYS planning away trips with family & girlfriends so all your tips are wonderful! Are you tired? 🙂

    • Laura Byrne Paquet August 10, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

      Hi Brenda–A very belated reply; for some reason, I didn’t see your comment when it first came in. I’m glad you liked the video–thanks! And thanks so much for letting me know you enjoy the newsletter and posts. I AM a bit tired at the minute, as I’ve been on the road in Ontario and Quebec for most of the past week. But now I have lots of new ideas for posts! 🙂

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