12 road trip ideas: Critters in Kingston, music in Maberly and snowshoeing in Gatineau Park

The first week of the year is always a bit quiet, as far as festivals and events go. I suspect everyone is holed up at home, recovering from all the holiday cheer. Nonetheless, I do have a few suggestions for you this week. For outdoors lovers, there are moonlit snowshoeing hikes and cross-country ski lessons. For the newly engaged, there’s a bridal show. Families can see sloths in Kingston or art (for free!) in Montreal. Speaking of Montreal, it’s also hosting a fringe-type theatre festival. Closer to home, there’s still time to catch Alight at Night in Morrisburg or Christmas Lights Across Canada here in Ottawa. Wherever you go, stay warm!

(P.S.: I’m in the midst of greatly expanding the Ottawa Road Trips calendar of events, to help you plan your outings further in advance. It’s still in its early stages, but keep checking in January as I fill it up with ideas of things to see and do throughout the region. And if you know about something I should add, please let me know via my contact page. Thanks!)

Meet a sloth in Kingston

Sloth in a tree in Costa Rica.

Photo by Javier Mazzeo on Unsplash.

Little Ray’s Reptiles (which handles much more than reptiles) is bringing its Diversity of Living Things show to the Frontenac Mall in Kingston this weekend (January 6 and 7). In the 10,000-square-foot exhibit, you can get up close and personal with critters ranging from a sloth and a barn owl to a kangaroo and an alligator. There will be 30-minute educational presentations, too. There is a period on Saturday morning reserved for kids with special needs, and the organization also works to help families with financial constraints attend; see the link above for details.

Visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for free

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of its Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is offering free admission for all visitors until (and including) Sunday, January 7. There will also be free activities and movies for families.

Sing your heart out in McDonald’s Corners

The Twelfth Night Wassail Evening at the MERA Schoolhouse in McDonald’s Corners (Saturday, January 6, starting at 7pm) is a chance to sing in the New Year, raise a glass of wassail punch, sip coffee and tea, and nibble on desserts, all for free (but please bring some nibbles to share).

Do some wedding shopping in Kingston

Bride photographed from the back, in a grove of lilacs.

Photo by Anne Edgar on Unsplash.

Did you discover an engagement ring under the Christmas tree this year? Was it yours? (When it comes to weddings, it’s important to get the details right—right?) Then you might be interested in the Timeless Memories Bridal Show at the Kingston campus of St. Lawrence College on Sunday, January 7, where there will be lots of free stuff to enjoy, including free admission, parking, swag bags and mocktails.

See the lights in Ottawa and at Upper Canada Village

Afraid that you missed Alight at Night, the spectacular illuminated festival at Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg? Don’t worry—you can still see it until Saturday, January 6. In Ottawa, Confederation Boulevard will still be glowing with lights as part of Christmas Lights Across Canada until January 7, as well. And out at Wesley Clover Parks in Nepean, you can enjoy the Magic of Lights display until January 6.

Tap your toes in Maberly

The Blue Skies Community Fiddle Orchestra, a unique ensemble of more than 40 fiddlers and other musicians, will be performing holiday tunes, Celtic music and other selections in a concert at the Maberly Hall on Sunday, January 7, from 2pm to 5pm.

Enjoy a guided snowshoeing hike in Gatineau Park

Friends of Gatineau Park’s popular Snowshoe Under the Stars program launches for another season this Friday, January 5. On Friday evenings from now until March 9, you can take a two-hour (3K) snowshoeing hike with a naturalist. Prices vary, and you can bring your own snowshoes or rent a pair for $5. Reservations required.

snowshoeing snowshoe Gatineau Park Ottawa Outaouais

The gorgeously snowy hills were alive with the sound of squeaking when I took a guided hike through Gatineau Park. Photo by Laura Byrne Paquet.

If you’d rather see the park by day, the NCC offers free guided hikes on Saturdays and Sundays, focusing on recognizing animal tracks (January 13 to March 11). Snowshoes are provided free of charge. Reservations are recommended, as space is limited.

Take a walk on the (theatrical) wild side in Montreal

In Montreal, the Wildside Theatre Festival (January 4 to 13) features cutting-edge shows from companies across North America—sort of like a  cold-weather fringe festival. Productions this year include Confabulation, “an evening of curated true stories”; Idiot, a combination of dance, music and more inspired by Iggy Pop; and The Morning After the Life Before, which hinges on life in Ireland before and after the vote for marriage equality.

Learn to cross-country ski in Kingston

On Saturdays from January 6 to February 24, you can rent cross-country skis and take a group lesson at the Little Cataraqui Creek Outdoor Centre in Kingston (ski rentals are available at other times, 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.

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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