29 road trip ideas: Theatre in Wakefield, Fibrefest in Almonte, the Snowbirds in Kingston and fairs galore

The kids may be back to school, but that doesn’t mean festivals and fun have ground to a halt—not by a long shot! This weekend, you can enjoy everything from an early Oktoberfest in Avonmore and a harvest celebration in Carleton Place to a food and music festival in Vanier, an art exhibition in Hawkesbury, illuminated gardens in Montreal, and fairs in Russell, Renfrew and beyond.

Revel in creativity in Wakefield

Montreal's Live Action Theatre Project is bringing its production of Wake Up Sleeping Beauty to the Ta Da! Festival. Photo by Alain Dahan Photography.

Montreal’s Live Action Theatre Project is bringing its production of Wake Up Sleeping Beauty to the Ta Da! Festival. Photo courtesy of Live Action Theatre.

Wow, there’s a lot going on at the Ta Da! Festival in Wakefield (September 8 to 10). Plays, dance performances, brunch with the artists, live music, workshops, a silent disco, kids’ activities, a Malaysian satay barbecue, the chance to help an artist create a new piece…really, just go check out the schedule and see what jumps out at you.

See the Snowbirds and Trooper in Kingston

The Garrison Kingston Family Fun Fest (September 9 and 10) will keep things hopping at CFB Kingston this weekend with two airshows by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the Canada 150 CF-18 Demonstration Team. A Great Canadian Rock Show on Saturday night will feature Trooper, Honeymoon Suite, Sass Jordan and Whiskey Overdrive. Admission to the festival is free, but the concert costs $20. The website at first appears to be just a list of sponsors; keep scrolling down for information on the weekend’s schedule.

Say cheers in Avonmore

Why wait until October? The Roxborough Agriculture Society is holding Avonmore Oktoberfest on Saturday, September 9, at the Avonmore Fairgrounds. Enjoy music by the Edelweiss Band, a buffet meal, a best-dressed contest and more.

Knit, spin or weave up a storm in Almonte

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Sheila Sund.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Sheila Sund.

The ever-popular Fibrefest is back in Almonte this weekend (September 9 and 10). It’s such a draw that it is held across two locations: the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum and the Almonte Arena. Come learn about knitting, rug hooking, spinning, weaving, quilting and other fibre arts. There are also workshops on Friday, September 8.

Have breakfast with a side order of planes in Brockville

The Brockville Flying Club is holding a fly-in breakfast at the Brockville–1000 Islands Regional Tackberry Airport on Sunday, September 10. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, ham and more will be on the menu.

Admire Gardens of Light in Montreal

The annual Gardens of Light extravaganza opens at the Montreal Botanical Garden on Friday, September 8, and runs until Tuesday, October 31. If you’ve never seen it before—and even if you have—you are in for a treat. The displays of huge, elaborate lanterns in the Chinese Garden, and the ethereal, atmospheric lighting in the Japanese Garden, are eye-popping. New this year is the First Nations Garden, which sounds as though it will be equally spectacular, with a giant poplar illuminated as the Sacred Tree, a soundtrack of Mother Earth’s heartbeat and projections of fire. This event is very popular, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to buy tickets in advance. (The video is a couple of years old but gives you a sense of what to expect.)

Tap your toes in Hintonburg

Dozens of musical acts will be performing on verandahs and lawns across Hintonburg as part of the free Ottawa Porchfest event on the afternoon and evening of Saturday, September 9.

See classic cars and motorcycles in Alexandria Bay

The Rollin’ Street Thunder Hogs and Rods Show (Sunday, September 10) gives you the chance to see lots of vintage cars and motorbikes in Alexandria Bay. The whole event has a ’50s and ’60s theme, so there will probably be lots of classic tunes, too.

See an art exhibition in Chelsea or Hawkesbury

Multimedia art in red, green, white and black. La Porte Rouge by Genevieve Belzile.

La Porte Rouge by Geneviève Belzile. Photo courtesy of La Fab Arts Centre.

Multidisciplinary artist Geneviève Belzile explores atmospheres under tension in her exhibition Contrast and Balance, running at La Fab Arts Centre in Chelsea until September 17. Her works mix etching, engraved wood, lithography and digital engraving with painting, collage and drawing.

A new 20-artist show called The People’s Forest opens with a vernissage from 4pm to 7pm on Saturday, September 9, at Le Chenail Cultural Centre in Hawkesbury. The works all riff on the theme of the role woodlands play in the lives of Eastern Ontario residents. The show runs until October 1.

Catch a film festival in Toronto or Albany

It’s like an all-you-can-eat-and-then-some buffet for movie lovers: the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) pretty much takes over T-Dot from September 7 to 17. My husband and I went last year for the first time, and it was a blast. You really have to experience it to believe it: hundreds of movies in more than a dozen theatres across the core, with enthusiastic fans lining up for hours and discussing their favourite flicks—which might include anything from a short animated Canadian movie to a thriller from Buenos Aires or a romance from Beirut—with fellow film buffs as they wait in line. There’s always the chance of a celebrity spotting, too; we didn’t see any stars “in the wild,” but we did get to hear from Rob Reiner and Woody Harrelson at a premiere.

For something a bit less hectic, you could check out the New York State International Film Festival in Albany (September 8 to 14). It features short films in all genres, from animation to horror.

Visit a Quebec farm—or see the farm in the city in Montreal

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Micolo J.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Micolo J.

Farms across Quebec—including spots in Val-des-Monts, Thurso and Luskville—will be participating in a “doors open” event on Sunday, September 10. As part of the province-wide event, a farm festival at Olympic Park in Montreal will give you the chance to meet farmers, see cows being milked, watch sheep shearers at work and enjoy lots of tasty samples. (Website is in French.)

Savour fine food in Carleton Place or Montebello

The Lanark County Harvest Festival comes to Beckwith Park on the outskirts of Carleton Place on Sunday, September 10. Highlights include cooking demonstrations, live music, a book launch and a harvest church supper.

The Festival Agro-Patrimonal de Papineau (September 8 to 10) is a three-day celebration of all things agricultural in and around Montebello. Concerts, dinners, book signings, and opportunities to taste local chocolate, beer and more will likely draw gourmets galore.

Enjoy a street festival in Vanier

Beechwood East Feast (Saturday, September 9) is a free outdoor celebration along Beechwood Avenue in Vanier. From 5pm to 10pm, the road will be closed to vehicles, giving those on foot the chance to enjoy live music by artists such as guitarist Gareth Pearson (see video above), play ping pong, visit a petting zoo, shop from local vendors, sip local wine and beer, and sample lots of food—everything from tacos and tamales to oysters and Himalayan dumplings.

Delve into many cultures in Kingston

The Kingston Multicultural Arts Festival on Sunday, September 10, will be serving up great foods from around the world in K-Town’s Confederation Park. You can also check out arts workshops, enjoy live music and art performances, and more.


Hear new tunes at an Ottawa CD launch

Ottawa band Jack Pine and The Fire will be releasing their new CD, Left to Our Own Devices, at Irene’s Pub in the Glebe on Friday, September 8. It’s the band’s first show in two years. The Moonfruits are the opening act.

Have some apple-themed fun east of Ottawa

Apples just begging to be made into a tasty crisp. Photo by Laura Byrne Paquet.

Les Vergers Villeneuve and Blueberry Farm in Saint-Pascal-Baylon (not far from Clarence Creek) is hosting Applefest on September 9 and 10. Family-friendly fun will include wagon rides, pony rides, face painting, crafts and apple picking, and you can buy tarts, donuts, jam and other products from local vendors and artisans.

You can both shop for apple goodies and work them off at the first-ever Apple and Pumpkin Festival Race in and around Casselman on Saturday, September 9. Test yourself with 1.5K, 5K or 10K races, then enjoy amusements such as apple picking and pumpkin picking, and chainsaw carving demonstrations. Family fun includes bouncy castles and wagon rides. The pre- and post-race activities are happening at Domaine Cléroux and Ferme Drouin.

Learn about wilderness cooking and gadgets at Frontenac Provincial Park

Barry Irish of Paddle Away Adventures in Kingston is holding two intriguing-sounding workshops at Frontenac Provincial Park on Saturday, September 9: one on using electronics such as GPS systems and satellite phones in the wilderness, and another on cooking with a Dutch oven while camping. Times and fees are available on the Ontario Parks website (type “Frontenac” in the search box to get to the event listing quickly).

Toast the grape harvest in Niagara

This is a long-distance road trip, but you’ve got until September 24 to get there, so I thought I’d include it! The Niagara Grape and Wine Festival (September 8 to 24) includes more than 100 special events, including parades, concerts, cellar door experiences and more, all with a wine and grape theme.

Have fun at a fair in Renfrew, Russell, Spencerville or Picton

Fall fair season is in full swing, giving farmers the chance to showcase the best of their livestock and produce.

Entertainment at the Renfrew Fair (September 6 to 10) includes Whiskey Jack presenting the songs and stories of Stompin’ Tom, a concert by 1970s CanCon stalwarts Lighthouse, a midway, a demolition derby, horse shows and more.

There’s also a midway at the Russell Fair (September 7 to 10), along with a craft beer festival, live pro wrestling, an aerial show, and Tragically Hip and Bryan Adams tribute bands. The fair is also hosting a free special needs afternoon from 12:30 to 3:30pm on Thursday, September 7, with activities, rides and a petting zoo for children with special needs and a chaperone; advance registration is required for that event.

At the Spencerville Fair (September 7 to 10), entertainment includes AC/DC tribute band 21-Gun Salute, as well as an evening featuring the music of Jordan McIntosh, Brea Lawrenson, Adam Hamelin and The Country Junk Band. You can also check out a parade, a midway, kids’ activities and more. If you want to stay for the weekend, you can bring your camper trailer or tent, but you must register by Wednesday, September 6.

Down in Prince Edward County, the Picton Fair (September 8 to 10) features both a dog show and a cat show, as well as a lawn tractor pull, a bake-off, wrestling, a fun fair and more.

See bugs and dancers at the Central Experimental Farm

Flickr/Creative Commons photo of a walking stick by Bob Webster.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo of a walking stick by Bob Webster.

Come to the Ottawa Research and Development Centre at the Central Experimental Farm—home to the Canadian National Collection of Insects—for your chance to touch a giant walking stick, cheer on competitors in a cockroach race (I’m not making this up), learn how to draw pollinators to your garden, see tiny bugs under a microscope and even taste some crunchy critters during Bug Day! Ottawa 2017 (Saturday, September 9).

If you’re at the farm on Saturday, September 9 (rain date Sunday, September 10), why not swing by the Beyond the Edge: Artists’ Gardens exhibition site to see a pay-what-you-can performance by Propeller Dance called The Wild Life? The piece will incorporate the site’s large-scale sculptures. You can park at the Red Barn on the east side of Prince of Wales Drive, just south of the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. The show is at 2pm.

Experience a pioneer-style harvest festival in Dunvegan

The Harvest Fall Festival at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in Dunvegan (Sunday, September 10) usually draws big crowds, who come to enjoy pioneer harvest and craft demonstrations, a horse-drawn carriage parade, live music, a petting zoo, and the chance to shop for local baking and preserves. It’s a great chance to visit the museum’s heritage buildings, too.

Walk your dog for the Ottawa Humane Society

The Wiggle Waggle Walk and Run on Saturday, September 9, is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Ottawa Humane Society. Amusements for four-legged friends (and their human companions) include a K9 fun zone, a “puppy Picasso booth,” and a pavilion where you can get information on pet-related products and services. The event is in a new location this year—Lansdowne Park.

Nosh on ribs and beer in Kingston

The Kingston Ribfest and Craft Beer Show (September 8 to 10) in Memorial Centre Park features chicken and ribs barbecued by six top ribbers, along with cold beer from 15 craft breweries. This charity event includes a kids’ fun zone and lots of live music, too.

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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