30 road trip ideas: Hockey, film fests, shopping, pets, Elton John and Leonard Cohen

It’s a wonderful weekend to be a movie or music fan. For cinema buffs, there are eight—yes, eight!—film festivals large and small to choose from, in Ottawa, the Outaouais, Montreal and beyond. Speaking of Montreal, the city is marking the one-year anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s passing with a museum exhibition and a light show on a silo. Kingston is hosting both Elton John and a pair of Elvis tribute artists. You can also check out pet and wellness fairs in Ottawa, enjoy Fiddler on the Roof in Perth, browse for books and baking in Arnprior, or make a sleigh in Cornwall. Happy road tripping!

Celebrate Leonard Cohen in Montreal

A year ago this week, Montreal’s favourite gravel-voiced poet/balladeer passed away, and the Musée d’art contemporaine de Montréal is marking the anniversary with a multidisciplinary exhibition called Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything (November 9, 2017, to April 9, 2018). The show will include installations, visual art, music and more, including a unique attraction this week: words penned by Cohen will be projected on Silo Number 5 on the city’s waterfront from November 7 to 11, in an installation created by artist Jenny Holzer (see video above).

See diverse movies in Ottawa, Gatineau, Wakefield, Montreal, the Bay of Quinte, Toronto or Cooperstown

For movie lovers, the next week or so is like Christmas come early, with movies screening in just about every imaginable genre and language.

At Inside Out: The Ottawa LGBT Film Festival (November 10 to 12) you can see a wide range of movies with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender themes. They include documentaries such as Chavela, about singer Chavela Vargas, and feature films such as God’s Own Country, about a young Yorkshireman’s relationship with a migrant worker on his family’s farm.

The shortest film fest in this weekend’s list is the Trails in Motion festival in Wakefield on Saturday, November 11. It features two hours of movies about running, filmed in scenic locales ranging from Alaska and Vermont to Iceland and Switzerland.

Not to be confused with the shortest film fest is the Festival international du court métrage en Outaouais (November 10 and 11), which is a festival of short films in Gatineau.

The Hollywood North Film Festival (November 10 to 12) is a celebration of movies in the Bay of Quinte region. Theatres in Belleville, Trenton and Picton will be playing a wide range of Canadian and international movies, including Kuleana (a U.S. film about a Vietnam vet in Hawaii), The Meaning of Life (a Canadian drama about a therapeutic clown at a children’s hospital), and shorts from Canada, Ireland, Germany, Japan and elsewhere.

This is also your last weekend to check out Cinemania, a francophone film festival running at the Imperial Cinema in Montreal until Sunday, November 12. Movies come from a diverse range of francophone countries, including France, Belgium, Tunisia—and Canada, of course. There’s something for just about every taste, whether you like romantic comedies (Nobody’s Perfect, with Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu), historical dramas (The Confession) or thrillers (This Is Our Land). And if you’re not bilingual, don’t worry—the movies are subtitled in English.

Montreal is also home to the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), which runs from November 9 to 19 this year. In its 20th anniversary year, the festival is presenting 142 movies from 47 countries, including 18 word premieres.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, the Reel Asian International Film Festival (November 9 to 18) showcases movies made by filmmakers across Asia, as well as Asians working in other countries around the world. Movies include Stand Up Man (a comedy about a Toronto comic who has to go back to Windsor to run his family’s sushi restaurant) and Masala Chai, a documentary about Indian tea vendors.

South of the border, Glimmerglass Film Days in Cooperstown, New York (November 9 to 13) shows movies focusing on the connection between humans and the natural world. Visitors can also take part in discussions, guided hikes and more.

(P.S.: If you like film festivals, check out my list of 35+ movie festivals in and around Ottawa, which includes events throughout the year.)

Get your hockey fix in Kingston

The Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour comes to the Royal Military College in Kingston for a free weekend (November 11 and 12) of live entertainment and hockey-themed fun, including the chance to watch Ron MacLean and Tara Slone remotely host an NHL broadcast.

Pause to remember in Ottawa

Remembrance Day wreath with poppies and purple bow from the Girl Guides of Canada.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by the Girl Guides of Canada.

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we pause to remember the sacrifices of those who have fought and died in wars. There are many Remembrance Day commemorations happening in Ottawa this weekend, including events on Parliament Hill, at the National War Museum, at the Canadian War Museum and elsewhere.

Hear Britpop and chamber music in Brockville

Two very different concerts will be lighting up the Brockville Arts Centre this week. On Thursday, November 9, British Legends is a tribute show featuring the music of a wide range of U.K. superstars: Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Rod Stewart and Adele. The following night (Friday, November 10), three members of the Toronto Symphony Chamber Soloists—violinist Jonathan Crow, viola player Teng Li and cellist Joseph Johnson—take to the stage.

Get healthy living inspiration in Ottawa

It’s never too early to start on those New Year’s resolutions, right? You can get some tips in that direction at the Live the Smart Way Expo at the Shaw Centre (November 11 and 12), where exhibitors will be selling products and services to help you make healthy meals, exercise and generally take better care of yourself.

Dine for a good cause in Kemptville

Cocktails at 6, dinner at 7 and a silent auction throughout the night—it all sounds like a very pleasant way to raise money for the Beth Donovan Hospice. The Winter Wonderland event takes place at the Equinelle Golf Course clubhouse in Kemptville on Saturday, November 11.

Buy goodies for your pets in Ottawa

Small beige puppy on green grass.

Flickr/Creative Commons file by Lisa L Wiedmeier.

Are you the type of pet owner who just can’t resist buying toys, leashes and other gifts for your furry friends? Or are you looking for a groomer, a trainer or a kennel? Either way, the Ottawa Pet Expo at the EY Centre (November 11 and 12) will likely provide you with hours of endless amusement.

Hum along to a Broadway musical in Perth

Tevye is a poor Jewish milkman in Tsarist Russia with five unmarried daughters. They want to marry for love. He wants them to marry for money. The ever-popular Fiddler on the Roof features catchy tunes such as “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” and it’s coming to the stage of Perth and District Collegiate Institute from November 9 to 12, courtesy of the Perth Community Choir.

Get a deal on a restaurant meal in PEC, Montreal or Cooperstown

The eight restaurants participating in Coop Eats (November 8 to 14) in Cooperstown, New York, will be offering special prix fixe menus throughout the week. As I mentioned in last week’s roundup, there are also similar promotions in Montreal (MTLàTABLE, running until November 16) and Prince Edward County (Countylicious, running until November 26).

See horse-themed art in Ottawa

Horse sculpture by Colette Beardall.

Photo courtesy of Colette Beardall.

The Art of the Horse features works by by sculptor Colette Beardall, painter Crystal Beshara and photographer Sandy Sharkey, all with an equine focus. The artists will be on site at 131 Loretta Avenue North for all three days of the show’s run (November 10 to 12). The vernissage on Friday, November 10, is reserved for guests aged 21 and over, while the other two days are open to all ages.

Take the kids to a pantomime in Ottawa

Holiday pantomimes are a cherished tradition in Britain, where young audiences are encouraged to sing along with, cheer and boo the over-the-top performances. Introduce your kids to this fun Christmas spectacle at the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre in Britannia Park, where the Lakeside Players are presenting Beauty and the Beast this weekend (November 9 to 12).

Shop, shop, shop in Arnprior

The ninth annual Ladies’ Night in Arnprior (scroll down on linked page for info) comes to St. John Chrysostom church in Arnprior on Friday, November 10. More than 50 vendors will be on hand, and there will also be a bar, a canteen and door prizes. Funds raised will support a range of charities, including CHEO and the Arnprior Food Bank. (Admission is free, but you’re encouraged to bring a donation for the food bank, including baby food and diapers.)

Later in the weekend, the Arnprior & District Humane Society’s Christmas in the Prior event (Sunday, November 12) is a book and bake sale at the Nick Smith Centre. Proceeds support the society’s work.

Hear some classic rock in Smiths Falls and Kingston

The Continentals first came together as a band in high school in 1964, so it’s not surprising that they play the hits of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and other classic rock stars. They’re playing a benefit concert for the Smiths Falls Food Bank at the Station Theatre in Smiths Falls in the afternoon of Sunday, November 12.

At the Grand Theatre in Kingston, you can see not one but two Elvis tribute artists in Elvis Anthology (Saturday, November 11). Matt Cage channels the King in his 1950s swivel-hips years, while Tim ‘E’ Hendry evokes Elvis in his white jumpsuit and spangles phase. The show illuminates Presley’s roots in country and gospel, as well as his pop and rock legacy. The show is a fundraiser for the Providence Care Hospital Patient Comfort Fund.

Elton John in a sparkly blue suit at his piano on a dark stage.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo of Elton John by Rosana Prada.

And this is actually next week, but I suspect you’ll have to move quickly if you want a ticket to see Elton John at the K-Rock Centre in Kingston on Tuesday, November 14. As I type this, there are still a few resale tickets left…but they start at $215 a person, and they go up from there. Way up.

Enjoy Chinese food and live music in Spencerville

The Spencerville Agricultural Society is holding its annual Chinese Dinner on Saturday, November 11. As well as noshing on Asian dishes, you can bid on auction items and enjoy music by Eddie and the Stingrays.

See a Québécois play in Ottawa

Prodigal Son, by Canadian playwright Shawn Macdonald, is a drama about a gay man who returns to his Quebec family to mend fences with his dying father. It’s on at the Shenkman Arts Centre in Orleans from November 7 to 9, then at La Nouvelle Scène on King Edward Avenue on November 11 and 12.

Catch a country concert in Perth


Canadian country music artist Tara Shannon is performing at Perth Studio Theatre on Saturday, November 11, with Wade Foster and special guests Jeff Callery and Arlene Quinn.

Thrill to Swan Lake in Ottawa

Fans of classical ballet, take note: In its only Canadian stop on this tour, Semperoper Ballett Dresden is presenting Swan Lake at the National Arts Centre from November 9 to 11.

Make a festive sleigh in Cornwall

Marlin Orchards and Garden Centre in Cornwall is holding a make-your-own Christmas sleigh workshop on Sunday, November 12. Hurry if you want to try this one; when I last checked, there were 25 tickets left.

Start your holiday shopping at a craft show

Finally, don’t forget my continuously expanding list of holiday craft shows, which features 15 sales this weekend, including events in Smiths Falls, Moose Creek, Chute-à-Blondeau and Manotick.

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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