29 road trip ideas: Boats in Montreal, antiques in Kingston, music in Carleton Place and movies in Wakefield!

It seems as though everyone has shaken off their January blues with a vengeance: This week’s schedule is packed with stuff to see and do! If you want to get outside and revel in the snow, there are winter festivals galore, a kilted skate and a polar plunge. If indoor fun is more your speed, it seems as though every theatre company from Perth to Montreal is staging a new production. Antiques hunters can hit a huge show in Kingston, while country music fans can dance at a big fundraiser in Carleton Place. I’ve also found two film festivals, three beer fests, a boat show and a Journey tribute. So switch off Netflix, crawl out from under the duvet and hit the road!

Skate in a kilt in Alexandria

Red, white and blue tartan (or plaid).

Photo by rawpixel on Pixabay.

Did you miss the recent kilt skate at Lansdowne Park? No worries—Alexandria is getting into the tartan sporting act with a Sir John A. Macdonald Kilt Skate on Saturday, February 3. Bring your plaid and your skates and head to Mill Pond from 1pm to 3pm.

See a play in Perth, Kingston or Montreal

On a First-Name Basis is one of Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s more recent plays. In this two-actor tale, a reclusive author realizes he doesn’t even know the first name of the housekeeper who has worked for him for 20 years. He decides to finally engage her in a proper conversation. Then the good Scotch comes out—along with all sorts of secrets, funny dialogue and heartfelt emotions. It’s on stage at the Studio Theatre in Perth from February 1 to 11.

Also over the next two weeks, the King’s Town Players are presenting Superior Donuts at the Kingston Yacht Club (January 31 to February 10). In the Tracy Letts play, the aging owner of a struggling Chicago doughnut shop gets youthful inspiration and energy from his new friend Franco—until Franco’s past catches up with him.

This is the last weekend to catch the Dawson College Professional Theatre Program’s production of Pride and Prejudice (until February 3). This stage version of Jane Austen’s timeless comedy of manners features all the usual suspects, including the indomitable Lizzy Bennet, her hilariously overbearing mother and the brooding Mr. Darcy.

Also in Montreal, Centaur Theatre presents The Baklawa Recipea play about two young Lebanese women who immigrate to Quebec in the 1960s and marry two Lebanese-Canadian brothers (running until February 18).

Enjoy a winter festival in Ontario, Quebec or New York state

Winterlude sculpture Ottawa

Flickr/Creative Commons photo of Winterlude by John Vetterli.

It’s another busy week for winter festivals. Along with a little event you might have heard of called Winterlude (February 2 to 19), carnivals on the calendar include Fête Frissons in Orleans (February 3); Feb Fest in Kingston (February 1 to 28); SnoSpree in Pembroke (January 31 to February 4); the Morewood Winter Carnival, southeast of Ottawa between Russell and Chesterville (February 2 to 4); the Marionville Winter Carnival, not far from Morewood (February 2 to 4); the Carnaval St-Bernardin, east of Ottawa between Casselman and Vankleek Hill (February 3); the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival in the Adirondacks (February 2 to 11); and the Fête des neiges de Magog in Quebec’s Eastern Townships (February 3 to 11). Looking for more ideas? Check out my big winter festivals roundup.

Jump in the lake in Kingston

Okay, Lake Ontario is going to be really, really cold by now. If that doesn’t faze you, then by all means sign up for the 2018 Kingston Polar Plunge on Sunday, February 4. Lots of public-spirited souls will be flinging themselves into the lake to raise money for a great cause: Special Olympics Ontario athletes. Good for them….but BRRRR!

Watch the sun set at Tremblant

Mont Tremblant winter skiing

Flickr/Creative Commons photo of Mont Tremblant by Peter Dutton.

This is the fourth year of the Festival Rando Alpine Tremblant (February 2 to 4), which celebrates winter mountain sports of all sorts. You’ll find activities for everyone from novices to experts, including timed races, a sunset skiing excursion, fat biking, yoga and more.

Browse for boats in Montreal

Dreaming of summer days? Then head down Highway 417 to browse to your heart’s delight at the Montreal Boat and Water Sports Show at Place Bonaventure (February 1 to 4). Ogle sailboats, trawlers, electric boats and more, or try your luck at a treasure hunt (no word whether maps marked with a skull and crossbones are involved).

Get your country music fix in Carleton Place

The inaugural Ron and Jeff McMunn Country Music Heart Jam (replacing the very popular Ron McMunn Country Music Heart Jam, which ran for 26 years) is taking place at the Carleton Place Arena on Sunday, February 4. The name has changed, but the roster is still rich with more than a dozen acts, several of them Ottawa Country Music Hall of Fame members. The event raises money for the Ottawa Heart Institute, and don’t plan on sitting in your chair; dancing is encouraged. Note that tickets are not available at the door. You can buy them in advance at several businesses in Carleton Place, Kemptville, Almonte, Perth and Pakenham.

Browse for antiques in Kingston

silver pocket watch

Pixabay photo by FelixMittermeier.

The Kingston Winter Antique Show (AKA the Cabin Fever Show) is happening this weekend at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour Centre (February 3 and 4). Dealers from across Ontario and Quebec will be selling jewellery, vintage advertising materials, mid-century modern furniture, folk art and much more. Many dealers come back every year to this hit show, which has been running for almost four decades.

Enjoy a family day in Chelsea

The Heart of Chelsea (Saturday, February 3) is a day of family fun in support of heart and stroke research. Come enjoy face painting, figure skating demonstrations, fire truck visits, food trucks, live music and more.

Sip some beers in Gatineau, Vankleek Hill or Montreal

Beau's Brewing Company is a popular stop in Vankleek Hill.

There’s lots of sudsy fun on the calendar this weekend. Take transit or pick a designated driver!

Feeling thirsty? Beau’s Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill has declared the coming month to be FeBREWary, with special events every weekend between February 3 and March 4. The brewery will release a new beer every week of the celebration, and there will be tours, samples, games, prizes, a DJ and other fun. Round-trip bus transportation between Ottawa and Beau’s is available, too.

You can also check out the Festibière d’Hiver at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau (February 2 and 3). As well as sampling some of the 100 beers (as well as wine and spirits), you can take in a concert, nosh on beer-friendly munchies, or learn more about your brews at a workshop. Bonus: The STO is offering free transit to the event with proof of ticket purchase.

Meanwhile, in Montreal, you can rock on during the third annual Taverne Tour in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood (January 31 to February 3). Fifteen bars have booked live music ranging from blues and country to grunge and post-punk to entertain you as you drink.

Catch a movie in Wakefield or Kingston


On weekends from February 3 until March 4, the Wakefield Doc Fest will be showing an intriguing range of documentary films from around the world. Choices include Jane, focusing on the life and work of chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall; Off the Rails, about a man so fascinated by New York City’s transit system that he has frequently impersonated drivers and train conductors; and Snack Bar Rhapsody, about Quebec’s beloved casse-croûtes.

In Kingston, the Reelout Queer Film Festival (February 1 to 10) will screen 65 films from 15 countries, including comedies, dramas and documentaries, all with LGBTQ themes. Most showings are happening at the Screening Room at 120 Princess Street. The stories on film hinge on plots as diverse as a road trip through the American South and a chance encounter between an actress and an activist in Pakistan.

See a Journey tribute in Gatineau

Don’t stop believin’…you can hear some of Journey’s most popular songs live on Friday, February 2, at the Casino Lac-Leamy in Gatineau. The show by Absolute Journey, a Toronto-based tribute band, promises to revive the whole vibe of Steve Perry’s arena rock band. Make sure you have a lighter app on your smartphone.

Hit the snowmobile trails in Kemptville and Morrisburg

Snowarama Kemptville Easter Seals

Photo of the 2015 Snowarama event in Kemptville courtesy of Snowarama.

The Snowarama snowmobile rally is taking place in two nearby locations this weekend: in Morrisburg on Saturday, February 3, and in Kemptville on Sunday, February 4. Even if you wouldn’t know a snowmobile from a snowman, you can still come out and enjoy a fundraising breakfast. Proceeds go to the Easter Seals Society.

Learn about the Red Baron in Gatineau

Remember Snoopy’s nemesis, the Red Baron? Did you know that the Red Baron’s nemesis was Canadian, and that he came from Carleton Place? Roy Brown shot down the famous German pilot, and you can learn more about him during a presentation by the Roy Brown Society at Vintage Wings of Canada in Gatineau on Friday, February 2.

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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