23 road trip ideas: Bee Gees in Gatineau, Aladdin in Smiths Falls, The Once in Dacre and lights on the Hill!

If Christmas is your thing, you have opportunities galore to sing carols and hang with Santa this weekend—but holiday fun isn’t the only thing on the menu. You can also cheer on top curlers at the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Ottawa, catch a show by indie folk trio The Once in Dacre, see a famous 1950s play in Brockville, get a new perspective on African art in Kingston or rock on to Bee Gees tunes in Gatineau. Happy road tripping!

Catch The Once in Dacre

The Once, an indie folk trio from Newfoundland.

Photo of The Once courtesy of the Festival of Small Halls.

The Once, an award-winning indie folk trio from Newfoundland, is playing the DACA Centre in Dacre as part of the Festival of Small Halls’ Deck the Halls series on Friday, December 8.

Enjoy festive trees and entertainment in Sharbot Lake

There’s more than trees to the Festival of Trees in Sharbot Lake (December 7 to 9). As well as a tree lighting at 6pm on Thursday, there’s live entertainment in the Soldiers Memorial (Oso) Hall all weekend. Funds raised go toward public gardens and beautification projects in Central Frontenac.

Take the kids to Aladdin in Smiths Falls

The Smiths Falls Community Theatre is presenting a traditional British-style pantomime, Aladdin, at the Station Theatre in Smiths Falls (December 8 to 17). Audiences can cheer on the hero, boo the villain and enjoy some good old-fashioned slapstick.

Catch a museum show in Ottawa, Montreal, Kingston or Toronto

Museums are the perfect place to catch your breath in the midst of the holiday whirl. This week, you could take in the exhibition Once Upon a Time…The Western at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which focuses on paintings, films and other artworks with a Wild West theme (until February 4, 2018). You could ogle beautiful dresses from the 1940s and 1950s at Christian Dior, an exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto (until March 18, 2018). You could see Frost, featuring photographs of Sami reindeer herders by photographer Fred Ivar Utsi Klemetsen, at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa (until January 7, 2018). Or you could visit a thought-provoking exhibition at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston called Stories to Tell: Africans and the Diaspora Respond to the Lang Collection, which showcases personal, heartfelt reactions to the way African art is displayed in Western museums.

Watch the lights come on in Ottawa


The ever-popular Christmas Lights Across Canada festival will be launched on Parliament Hill on Thursday, December 7, at 7pm. The opening ceremonies will feature carolling, fireworks and more, and the hundreds of thousands of holiday lights festooning trees and buildings throughout the downtown cores of Ottawa and Gatineau will be switched on that night (as will festive lights in other provincial capitals). The lights will be glowing nightly until January 7, 2018, and a free, 13-minute sound-and-light show will be projected on the Parliament Buildings nightly between 5:30pm and 11pm.

Relive the disco years in Gatineau

Hey, ’70s music fans! The Casino du Lac-Leamy is presenting Stayin’ Alive—A Celebration of the Music of the Bee Gees for four shows, on December 8, 9, 15 and 16. Get out your white suit and strut like you own the town—I know you want to.

Explore a Christmas village in Edwards

Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm in Edwards has been transformed into a Christmas village. On weekends until December 23, families can stroll through the cookie kitchen, visit “reindeer” in the stables, visit the gift shop, buy a Christmas tree, write a letter to Santa and more.

Take a candelit tour in Pembroke

The Champlain Trail Museum in Pembroke is holding a Christmas Lamplight Tour on Saturday, December 9, when the museum’s pioneer buildings will be lit with oil lamps. Kids can do crafts, write letters to Santa or get their photos taken with him. Food and hot drinks will be available, too.

Light up the night in Montreal


Luminothérapie, a one-of-a-kind outdoor interactive light show, has returned to Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles this year (November 30, 2017, to January 28, 2017) with a new installation called Impulse. Visitors to the free show activate 30 interactive see-saws to create a sound and light wave. Really, it’s easier to see than explain—the website provides a lot more detail.

Ring in the holidays in Bristol

Deck the Hall, billed as an old-fashioned Christmas event, is set to light up the Coronation Hall Cider Mill in Bristol, Quebec (December 8 to 17). Highlights include a 45-foot Christmas tree, hot soup and cider, a gift sale, and baked treats.

See a 1950s-era drama in Brockville

The St. Lawrence College Music Theatre Performance Program presents the drama 12 Angry Jurors (the basis for the movie 12 Angry Men) for four performances only at 1000 Islands Village in Brockville (Friday, December 8, to Sunday, December 10).

Have pancakes with Santa in Vankleek Hill

Pancakes and sausage! Presents for the kids! And a visit with the jolly old elf himself! What’s not to like about breakfast with Santa at the Vankleek Hill Community Centre (Sunday, December 10)?

Toast the season in Richmond

Photo courtesy of Jabulani Vineyards and Winery.

Photo courtesy of Jabulani Vineyard and Winery.

Jabulani Vineyard and Winery in Richmond is holding a Christmas celebration on December 9, 10, 16 and 17 from 11am to 4pm. To enjoy live music, snacks, mulled wine and wine tastings, just bring a donation of food or money for the food bank.

Dance like the Peanuts kids in Ottawa

Well, I don’t know if the Ottawa Jazz Festival will encourage people to dance in the aisles during Tales of a Charlie Brown Christmas on Tuesday, December 12. But I know that as soon as I heard the opening notes of “Linus and Lucy,” played by the Jerry Granelli Trio, I’d be itching to get up and bob my head from side to side like one of those kids gathered around Schroeder’s piano.

Get festive at Chutes Coulonge in Fort Coulonge

The Festival of Lights opens on Saturday, December 2, at Parc des Chutes Coulonge in the Pontiac and runs every Saturday in December from 4pm to 10pm, as well as daily from December 26 to 30. Enjoy live music and fries, wander along a lighted trail, and thrill to the thunder of the water. Each night features something a little different; check the park’s website for full details.

Hear The Nightmare Before Christmas in Kingston

Do you love Tim Burton’s movie The Nightmare Before Christmas? Then you might be the target audience for a staged concert at the Grand Theatre in Kingston (December 6 to 10), featuring music from the 1993 film. There will also be munchies and a cash bar.

Cheer on curlers in Ottawa

curling rocks stones house

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Adam Harvey.

It’s down to the wire—or the button, I suppose—for the teams from across Canada competing in the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings curling tournament at the Canadian Tire Centre (until Sunday, December 10). As I type, tickets are still available even for the finals of these Canadian Olympic curling trials on the weekend. But you’d better…hurry! (Couldn’t resist a little curling humour there.)

Spy with the Grinch at the Diefenbunker in Carp

It’s the How the Grinch Spied on Christmas! Enjoy spy-themed crafting and other activities, along with hot chocolate, as well as a showing of How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Diefenbunker in Carp (December 9, 10, 16 and 17).

Have some holiday fun in Almonte

The Mill of Kintail Conservation Area in Almonte is hosting the 11th annual Kintail Country Christmas on Saturday, December 9. Activities include a wilderness workshop with local expert Chad Clifford, wagon rides and stories around the campfire.

Indulge your love of model trains in Kingston

Is there a little one in your family obsessed with all things railroad related? Then don’t miss All Aboard for the Holidays at the Pump House Steam Museum in Kingston (December 9 and 10), where you can see model train layouts and decorated trains, warm up at the marshmallow hot chocolate bar, visit with Santa and more.

Celebrate Christmas in the Adirondacks

The Holiday Village Stroll (December 8 to 10) is the big event of the month in Lake Placid, New York. Highlights include a skating party, an ugly Christmas sweater party, live music, free sleigh rides, breakfasts with Santa, and a soup, chili and chowder tasting.

And still more holiday fun!

Still looking for ideas? Check my big lists of Christmas craft shows and Santa Claus parades throughout the region.

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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