21 road trip ideas: Gardening in Almonte, Habs in Hawkesbury, makers in Merrickville and Napoleon in Montreal!

Whether you want to ski, buy seeds, see a play, laugh your head off, eat stew, meet hockey stars, take the kids to a show or hear some great jazz, I have a road trip idea for you this week. I’ve even found a chainsaw carving demonstration! Wherever your travels take you this week, have a great time.

Get gardening inspiration in Almonte or Montreal

Hands planting seedling in a clay pot.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash.

Swap your extra seeds for new seeds, or buy new seeds, and chat with gardeners of all sorts at Almonte Seedy Saturday, taking place on February 10 at the Almonte Civitan Hall. Further afield, the Montreal Botanical Garden is holding an entire Seedy Weekend (February 9 to 11).

See Beauty and the Beast in Pembroke

The Starlight Theatre Company’s Youth Wing is presenting its live production of the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast this weekend at Festival Hall in Pembroke (February 8 to 10). It really is a tale as old as time (especially if you have a pint-sized princess in the family).

Laugh at a comedy festival in Ottawa

The semi-finals of the Alterna Savings Crackup comedy festival (February 5 to 13) are a series of competitions between local stand-up comics at Yuk Yuk’s and Absolute Comedy, as they vie for $500 and a spot in the grand finale show next month. With all this snow and ice, this is the perfect time of year for some laughs—am I right?

See a new Napoleon exhibition in Montreal

Napoleon crop
Everyone’s favourite 19th-century French general/emperor is back! This time, he’s at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The museum’s exhibition, Napoleon: Art and Court Life in the Imperial Palace, runs until May 6 and features more than 400 artworks and artifacts reflecting Napoleon’s opulent court, which lasted from 1804 until a rather ignominious end in 1815. Items for the show, most of which have never been exhibited in North America, come from a wide range of lenders, including the Louvre and the Château de Fontainebleau.

See Habs greats in action in Hawkesbury

Sports fans will want to hit the highway and head east of the city this weekend for Scotiabank Hockey Night in Hawkesbury on Saturday, February 10. The local Hawkesbury General Hospital/Scotiabank team will be facing off against a team of Montreal Canadiens alumni. Want to mingle with the Habs greats? There’s also a pre-game cocktail party.

Take in a cutting-edge play in Ottawa

The always intriguing Undercurrents theatre festival, produced by Ottawa Fringe, returns to for its eighth season (February 7 to 17). Most shows take place at Arts Court. The schedule this year includes How to Disappear Completely, a multimedia show about a man whose ill mother asks him to help her die, to Little Boxes, an award-winning play about a moral dilemma in suburbia.

Appreciate art in Manotick

Painting of trees in winter.

Artwork copyright Russ Paquettte. All rights reserved. Provided courtesy of Applecross Galleries.

Applecrate Galleries is holding a vernissage for a new exhibition, Poems of Our Land, by Ottawa painter Russ Paquette on Saturday, February 10 (6pm to 9pm). Guests are invited to meet the artists and check out the show. His artworks are inspired by nature, people and all living things, and admission to the event is free.

Enjoy classic movie tunes in Kingston

Movie soundtracks are designed to be in the background, but the Kingston Symphony Orchestra will bring some of the most beloved cinematic tunes front and centre this weekend during John Williams and the Movies (February 10 and 11). From Superman and Star Wars to Indiana Jones and E.T., Williams has written some of the most famous movie music of the last 40 years.

Shop for items by local makers in Merrickville

Delicate stems with green leaves in a glass vase. Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash.

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash.

Merrickville’s Winter Makers Market is taking place in the village’s community centre at 106 Read Street on Saturday, February 10. Some 40 vendors from Merrickville and beyond will be selling hand-crafted items of all descriptions. If shopping makes you hungry, there will be Middle Eastern-style tapas to nibble on, too, and there will be music by DJ Tones.

Immerse yourself in jazz in Ottawa

The Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival (February 8 to 10) is offering a diverse roster of shows at La Nouvelle Scène—everything from a Latin jazz big band to jazzy tributes to the music of Michael Jackson and Belá Bartók.

Race your snowmobile in Greely

Want to get your snowmobile motor running? The Osgoode Carleton Snowmobile Trail Club is holding a drag race on the grounds of the Greely Legion on Saturday, February 10.

Warm up with stew in the ByWard Market

Henry Burris Redblacks ByWard Market Stew Cook-Off

Celebrity judge Henry Burris of the Ottawa Redblacks with the chefs of Tucker’s Marketplace, winners of the Judges’ Choice Award at the 2016 ByWard Market Stew Cook-Off. Photo courtesy of the ByWard Market Business Improvement Area.

Almost two dozen ByWard Market restaurants will be dishing up warming stews during the Winterlude Stew Cook-Off on Friday, February 9 (11:30am to 2pm). For $10, you can sample as many stews as you like and vote for your favourite (with a deal like that, no wonder this is the event’s 27th year). Proceeds support the Lowertown Community Resource Centre.

Hear an award-winning pianist in Kingston

Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin, winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition and the Seoul International Music Competition, will be playing an afternoon concert of music by Mozart, Chopin, Babadjanian and Schumann at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Kingston on Sunday, February 11.

Ski from Mont Tremblant to Lachute…

Okay, you don’t have to ski the entire 164.7 kilometres! You can pick one or more shorter sections of the Canadian Ski Marathon (February 9 to 11), put on your cross-country skis and hit the trail to join others in what the organizers bill as the “longest and oldest classic ski tour in North America.” They also note that it’s not a race; it’s designed to get people of all ages out on the trails.

…or ski in Murphy’s Point Provincial Park

Hurry if you want to try this one; registration for the Tay Valley Loppet 2018 closes on Friday, February 9. The event itself takes place on Sunday, February 11, at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park near Perth. It features 2.5K and 5K events for kids, as well as 5K, 10K and 20K events for adults, and you get a reward of hot food after your exertions.

Take the kids to a puppet show in Orleans


Charly in the Desert is a puppet show aimed at kids aged 5 to 8. It tells the story of Charly and Inna, two new step-siblings (one from Canada, one from Mali) who learn to get along. It’s on at the Shenkman Centre for the Arts in Orleans on Saturday, February 10, with a show in English at 10am and a show in French (Charly dans le désert) at 3pm. After each 55-minute show, the audience is invited to stay for a Q&A with the puppeteers from Créations in Vivo.

Celebrate winter in Chesterville, Clarence Creek, Pembroke or Rockport

Haven’t had your fill of winter carnivals yet? Then check out the fun this weekend at the Chesterville Winter Carnival (February 9 to 11), including dances, a firemen’s breakfast, a silent auction and a hockey tournament.

East of Ottawa, the Clarence Creek Winter Carnival (February 9 to 18) features card tournaments, bouncy castles, a casino night and more.

This is the second weekend of the Rankin Culture and Recreation Centre’s Winter Carnival in Pembroke (February 8 to 11), where you can enjoy a spaghetti supper, pancake breakfast, snowshoe obstacle course, chainsaw carving demonstrations and lots more.

In the 1000 Islands, Rockport is also hosting five days (February 7 to 11) of frosty fun during the Rockport Winter Carnival.

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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2 Responses to 21 road trip ideas: Gardening in Almonte, Habs in Hawkesbury, makers in Merrickville and Napoleon in Montreal!

  1. J Schmidt February 6, 2018 at 5:18 pm #

    I didn’t see the winter hiking trail southwest of Ottawa mentioned in the newsletter intro.

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