36 road trip ideas: Lumberjacks, yoga, curd festival, ribs, Shakespeare and Greek Fest!

Food and drink seems to be a big theme in this week’s roundup, with festivals celebrating ribs, corn, beer, cheese curds, honey and more. That’s far from the whole story, though; you can also hear classical music in Williamstown, cheer on lumberjacks in upstate New York, see cartoons from around the world in Montreal, do yoga in the Pontiac, learn about textiles in Saint-André-Avellin or catch a music festival in North Gower. Make time to hit the road before summer ends!

Enjoy music and ribs in Calabogie


Enjoy great music with a heaping side dish of barbecue at the Calabogie Blues and Ribfest (August 18 to 20). Featured acts include Big Sugar, and Tom Lavin and the Legendary Powder Blues.

Get a taste of Manotick

The shops and restaurants of Manotick will be offering samples, demonstrations, sales and other enticements to visitors during A Taste of Manotick on Saturday, August 19. Live music is also on the menu during this four-hour street celebration (4pm to 8pm).

Cultivate inner peace in Ladysmith


Bhakti in the Woods (August 18 to 20) will draw seekers of all sorts to Ladysmith, Quebec, with yoga and meditation workshops, devotional chanting, world music, craft and food vendors, and more. Free camping available (bring your own gear).

Join the Irish in Killaloe

The village of Killaloe (named for a community in Ireland) is hosting four days of Celtic fun this week. Killaloe: An Irish Gathering (August 17 to 20) features everything from a red-hair-and-freckles contest and a trivia night to bouncy castles for the kids. Live music and dancing abounds, including a concert by The Irish Descendants on Friday night.

Catch a thriller in Perth

The Classic Theatre Festival’s production of I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, one of Canada’s most popular plays, opens on Friday, August 18, and runs until September 10. The Hitchcock-flavoured thriller spins the yarn of a Toronto couple who buys a country house, only to encounter all sorts of spookiness.

Celebrate cheese in St. Albert

St. Albert Cheese Co-op laid out tasty plates of their cheeses during the Popsilos launch.

St. Albert Cheese Co-op makes much more than curds!

Get your fill of cheese and cheese curds at the Festival de la Curd in St. Albert (August 16 to 20). I suspect that there will be more than a few servings of poutine consumed, but that’s just the beginning of the family-friendly fun. There will also be a “curds and country” day of live music with Melissa Ouimet, Gabrielle Goulet, Daniel Boucher and more. Other amusements include a chainsaw sculptor, wine and cheese tastings, bingo games, and an ATV stunt show.

See all of Shakespeare and an American Revolution re-enactment in Prescott

Do you like your Elizabethan theatre with a heavy dose of levity? Then you’re in luck this week, as the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott presents a popular parody called The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (August 15 to 20). Three actors do their utmost to race through all of the Bard’s plays in a couple of hours, in a sort of “greatest hits” rendition that boils down Julius Caesar to the leader’s death scene and summarizes Macbeth in one fight scene. (You can read more about the play on Wikipedia.)

While you’re in town, you could catch an American Revolution re-enactment during Prescott Loyalist Days at Fort Wellington (August 17 to 20).

Listen to classical music at a gorgeous ruin in Williamstown


The bad news: Tickets are sold out if you want to enjoy first-ever Classiqu-Arts SD&G festival (Saturday, August 19) from inside St. Raphael’s Ruins in Williamstown. The good news: Due to popular demand, the organizers are going to set up a big screen on the grounds outside the ruins, so that those who didn’t get tickets can still enjoy the show. Most of the participating performers have roots in Eastern Ontario.

Shop for local foods in Barry’s Bay

Love local food? Then check out Taste of the Valley at the Railway Station visitor centre in Barry’s Bay on Friday, August 18, from 10am to 5pm. Shop for farm products and packaged foods from the Ottawa Valley, and enjoy spinning demonstrations and live music.

See animated films from around the world in Montreal

Animation fans: The Animaze festival in Montreal (August 17 to 20) features screenings, talks, a conference and more, with activities focusing on topics such as women in animation, experimental shorts and animated Turkish films.

Take in a street party in Brockville

Hula hooper at Brockville Downtown Fun Fest.

Photo courtesy of the Downtown Brockville BIA.

With a sidewalk sale, bouncy castles, laser tag, Segway demos, live entertainment and an electric cars display, there’s something for the whole family at Brockville Downtown Fun Fest on Saturday, August 19.

Hear the music of Motown in Spencerville

Get your Motown fix at the Spencerville Mill on Thursday, August 17, when Soul Cracker will be performing hits by Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Ray Charles and many others as part of the Music at the Mill series.

Thrill to a good ghost story at Bonnechere Provincial Park

On Saturday, August 19, relive the early days of Eastern Ontario during the Spirits Night Hike at Bonnechere Provincial Park. For one night only, hikers will encounter lumberjacks, voyageurs and pioneers of days gone by.

Discover fabulous fibres in Saint-André-Avellin

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Sheila Sund.

Knitters and other crafters, take note: the huge Twist Fibre Festival (August 17 to 20) is coming to Saint-André-Avellin, Quebec, this weekend. With more than 140 vendors, a food fair, and more than 50 workshops on everything from embroidery and hemp spinning to felting and yarnbombing, this is like Disneyland for textile fans.

Catch a concert (or two, or 10) in North Gower

A word to the wise: The Arboretum Music Festival (August 18 and 19) doesn’t take place at the Arborteum. Instead, you’ll find its three stages at Rideau Pines Farm in North Gower. Prepaid day and weekend tickets include free shuttle bus transportation from Beyond the Pale Brewery at City Centre in Ottawa. The lineup includes Le1f, Boyhood and Open Air Social Club, along with a few secret acts yet to be announced.

Get your antiques assessed in Dunvegan

Do you have an interesting antique in your attic or basement that you suspect might be a gem? Bring it to the ever-popular What’s It Worth? event at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in Dunvegan on Saturday, August 19 to find out. Even if you don’t have something to be appraised, you could still drop by to check out the classic car show, antiques displays and children’s activities.

Be Greek for a day in Ottawa


With a Zorba show featuring bouzouki players and Greek dancers, as well as a café serving up dolmades, tzatziki and baklava, family-friendly Ottawa Greek Fest (August 10 to 20) is about as close as you can get to the Parthenon or Santorini without jumping on a plane. It takes place at 1315 Prince of Wales Drive, between Baseline Road and Meadowlands Drive; check the website for details on shuttles and offsite parking.

Eat your way around the world in Cornwall

If you can never quite decide what to eat, head to the Cornwall Food Fest on Saturday, August 19, and you can sample everything from poutine and churros to Jamaican jerk chicken and five-spiced tofu. There will also be live music, a family fun zone, a sidewalk sale and more.

Check out a corn festival in Athens

corn on the cob with a pat of butter

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Tim Sackton.

The small town of Athens will be hopping on Saturday, August 19, when steel band and country music concerts, a children’s parade, Zorb soccer, paintball, a petting zoo, a rock climbing wall, fire department displays, and much more (including lots of corn, naturally) are on the menu during Athens Cornfest.

Browse for art in Carp, Pembroke or Kingston

On Saturday, August 19, the West Carleton Art Society is presenting Art on the Grass at the Carp Fairgrounds, featuring fine art, handmade crafts, books and music. You can also join other artists to capture your impressions of Carp on canvas during a “plein air” painting event.

Also on Saturday, at the Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village in Pembroke, you can buy artwork and other goods from local creators while enjoying live music during Art in the Park.

The next day, the Kingston Women’s Art Festival rolls into City Park in K’town with almost 200 visual artists, performances by female musicians, lots of food, a kids’ play area and more. Net proceeds support women’s organizations around Kingston.

Have fun at a fair in Ottawa, Pakenham, South Mountain or Vankleek Hill


Four fairs are on the calendar this weekend. The Pakenham Fair (August 19) features broomball, a sidewalk sale, frog races and more; the South Mountain Fair (August 17 to 20) is celebrating its 125th anniversary with truck and tractor pulls, a Tanya Tucker concert (see video above) and a pizza eating contest; the Vankleek Hill Fair (August 17 to 20) has a parade, a combine demolition derby, a midway and a volleyball tournament; and the Capital Fair (August 18 to 27) at the Rideau-Carleton Raceway boasts a big midway, stunt dogs, pony rides, monster trucks and live music.

Hear Chicago songs in Brockville

Do you like Saturdays in the park? Do you find it hard to say you’re sorry? Do you recognize these as allusions to Chicago lyrics? If so, Brass Transit: The Musical Legacy of Chicago—a tribute show to the band that sold zillions of records in the 1970s, 1980s and beyond—may be just your thing. It comes to the Brockville Arts Centre on August 16 and 17.

Watch a boating poker run in Kingston

The 1000 Islands Poker Run (August 18 and 19) will see more than 50 power boats set off from Kingston to collect the best poker hand as they travel a route through the 1000 Islands. Back on shore at Kingston’s Confederation Park, there will be live musical entertainment on Friday and Saturday.

Kick back with beers and tunes in Bath, Quebec City or Rochester

In Bath, just west of Kingston, Back to the Farm: MacKinnon Brothers Beer & Music Festival will welcome music fans, foodies and families on Sunday, August 20. Food trucks, breweries and wineries will be serving up treats from Prince Edward County and beyond. Kids (and grown-ups) can enjoy a giant Jenga game, foosball, Frisbees and more. Live music starts at 12:30pm and the party lasts until about 10pm.

In Quebec City, the Festibière de Québec (August 17 to 20) in the Old Port is slated to host some 60 beverage makers and close to 20 food vendors, along with lots of live musical entertainment.

You can sample wine, beer, spirits and cider from more than 70 companies—while noshing on food truck grub and listening to live music—at the Flour City Brewers Fest in Rochester, New York (Friday, August 18).

Cheer on woodsmen (and woodswomen) in upstate New York

Are you a lumberjack? Are you okay? (And are you old enough to get my ancient Monty Python references?) Then you might get a kick out of the New York State Woodsmen’s Field Days in Boonville, New York (August 18 to 20). Watch people carve ice with chainsaws! Take in a parade, a greased pole competition and a best beard contest! And, of course, see people demonstrating woodsy skills of all descriptions. Boonville is about three hours south of Ottawa. Timber!

See heritage buildings in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, or Rideau Lakes

The former Aultsville Station, now at Upper Canada Village, is one of the Doors Open sites. It is currently hosting an exhibition about British Home Children in Canada. Photo courtesy of the Ontario East British Home Child Family association.

The popular Doors Open event comes to both Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and Rideau Lakes this weekend (August 19 and 20). Historically interesting buildings across the region—including sites in Cornwall, Iroquois, Martintown, Alexandria, Chaffeys Lock, Westport and Delta—will be welcoming visitors and hosting special activities.

Take the kids to a festival in Mirabel

Les Serres Bertrand, a tomato grower in Mirabel that I visited for the first time a few weeks ago, makes a great day trip from Ottawa. This weekend (August 19 and 20), it’s hosting a Grande Fête Familiale, a family festival featuring a corn roast, entertainment, inflatable structures and more. Don’t miss the great food in the bistro or the tasty packaged goods (such as house-made relishes) in the gift shop.

Indulge your sweet tooth in Ottawa

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Colin J.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Colin J.

Have you ever wanted to rent a beehive? Well, you’re in luck: that’s one of many things you can do at the Queen Bee Party at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum on Saturday, August 19. Even if beekeeping isn’t on your bucket list, the family festival may still entice you with hand-made honey ice cream, cooking demonstrations, a bee costume contest and other bee-themed fun.

Enjoy Shakespeare in the park in Ottawa

This week is your last chance to catch A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presented by A Company of Fools in parks across the region. Their rousing take on Shakespeare’s tale of lovesick lovers and an enchanted forest is suitable for the whole family. The remaining shows take place in Strathcona Park in Sandy Hill (Monday), Lions Park in Westboro (Tuesday), the Herb Garden in Almonte (Wednesday), Claudette Cain Park in Riverside South (Thursday), Kin Vineyards in Carp (Friday) and Windsor Park in Old Ottawa South (Saturday).

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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