23 road trip ideas: Ski loppets, hockey, ice fishing, lake skating, Celtic music and Winnie-the-Pooh!

If you’re trying to entertain the kids over the Family Day weekend, I have a Winnie-the-Pooh show in Vankleek Hill, a bouncy castle festival in Rockland and a production of Beauty and the Beast in Cornwall for you. Thinking of something a bit more grown up? How about an Emily Carr-related exhibition in Merrickville or an after-hours museum party in Montreal? Sporty types can hit a hockey weekend in Brockville, two ski loppets in West Quebec or a snowmobile race in Eganville. And if you’re just plain thirsty, there’s a craft beer festival at Lansdowne Park! Wherever you go, have fun.

Hit the ski trails in West Quebec

Gatineau Loppet cross country skiing

Flickr/Creative Commons photo of the Gatineau Loppet by ActiveSteve.

Here are some people who are probably delighted by the bountiful snow this winter: the organizers of the Gatineau Loppet (February 16 to 18). Billing itself as “the greatest international cross-country ski event in Canada” (hey, it never hurts to toot your own horn), it features a wide variety of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking races. Races depart from various points, including Chelsea and La Pêche. After skiing, you can check out the ski equipment show and watch adventure movies on the big screen.

Further west in the Outaouais, you can put on your cross-country skis and try Ski Pontiac’s Ski Loppet on Saturday, February 17. The route starts from Pine Lodge in Bristol at 1pm, and you can warm up with hot chocolate afterward.

Dance the night away in Perth

At Fire and Ice at the Crystal Palace in Perth on Saturday, February 17, you can raise a toast with local beer and vodka, and dance to the music of Under the Covers.

Get wedding ideas in Ottawa

Couple hugging with round wedding bouquet. Photo by Orio Nguyen on Unsplash.

Photo by Orio Nguyen on Unsplash.

Tie the Knot: The Urban Wedding Show comes to the Ottawa Convention and Event Centre on Saturday, February 17. Billing itself as a show for the “urban, modern, trendy and hip” couple, it will feature booths from a range of wedding suppliers.

Listen to Winnie-the-Pooh in Vankleek Hill

The Winnie-the-Pooh Live Radio Show is a one-day fundraiser for the Opportunity Knox program at Knox Presbyterian Church in Vankleek Hill on Saturday, February 17. Tickets to this audio adaptation of A.A. Milne’s classic children’s story are available at the door only, so get there early if you want to see the 2pm show. Tickets are $10 for adults and free for kids under 12.

Revel in winter in Algonquin Park

Algonquin Park Winter in the Wild

Snowshoeing in Algonquin Park, Ontario, during Winter in the Wild. Photo courtesy of Ontario Parks.

Algonquin Park celebrates Winter in the Wild on Saturday, February 17, with guided birding and snowshoeing hikes, marshmallow roasts, winter camping demonstrations, skating, chili, a barbecue and more.

Learn about Emily Carr in Merrickville

Merrickville author and photographer Laurie Carter has written several books about the life and travels of British Columbia artist Emily Carr (1871–1945). A selection of Carter’s photographs of sites associated with the popular artist are on display at the Merrickville Public Library until the end of February.

Treat the kids to bouncy castles in Rockland

Do your kids have February cabin fever? The Bouncy Castle Festival (February 18 and 19) at the Jean-Marc Lalonde Arena in Rockland may be just the cure. As well as bouncing inside air-filled structures of all descriptions, they can nosh on popcorn, chips and cotton candy, and get their faces painted.

Enjoy a weekend of hockey in Brockville

Vintage leather hockey skates hanging on a wooden post.

Photo by Terry Matthews on Unsplash.

Hey, hockey fans! The Brockville Winter Classic Weekend (February 16 to 19) has a packed schedule of activities for you, including a match pitting New York Rangers alumni against the local Canadian All-Stars team, amateur games galore, a sledge hockey match, a beer tent, a family skate and more. Since it began in 2015, this fundraising weekend has raised almost $150,000 to build Rotary Park in Brockville.

See groundbreaking art in Syracuse

Jeff Donaldson: Dig is the first-ever museum retrospective of works by the late African-American artist, who was one of the founders of the AfriCOBRA group of artists in Chicago in the late 1960s. It’s running at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse until Sunday, April 29.

Laugh along with the Arrogant Worms in Orleans


After 25 years and 14 albums, the Arrogant Worms—a comedy/musical trio from Kingston, Ontario—may just be ready to stop touring. So this might be their last tour. Or not. They’re being a bit coy. But if you’re a fan, why take a chance? They’ll be at the Shenkman Arts Centre in Orleans as part of their “First Farewell Tour” on Saturday, February 17.

Attend a cool after-hours party in a Montreal museum

You know the Nature Nocturne after-hours events at the Canadian Museum of Nature? Well, the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal has its own version, Les Nocturnes du MAC. The next one, on Friday, February 16, will give you the chance to explore the museum (including its current Leonard Cohen exhibition), take an art workshop and enjoy DJ beats while sipping cocktails and nibbling snacks, from 5pm until 2am.

Go ice fishing all over Eastern Ontario

Feathery fishing lures arranged in an open tackle box. Photo by Sarah Labuda on Unsplash.

Photo by Sarah Labuda on Unsplash.

Have you ever wanted to introduce your kids to ice fishing? This weekend (February 17 to 19) will be the perfect time, as the Ontario government has designated it a licence-free fishing weekend—so you can cast your line for free! The Ontario Family Fishing Events website has a comprehensive list of fishing weekend events across the province, including fun in Nepean, Constance Bay, l’Orignal, Arnprior and Perth Road. (Yes, that’s “Perth Road” and not “Perth.” Perth Road is a village between Kingston and Westport. I learn something new every day!) One event not on the list above is the Alexandria Ice Fishing Derby on Saturday, February 17, which offers more than $45,000 in prizes.

Hit the ice in Portland

Skate the Lake Portland takes to Big Rideau Lake this weekend (February 17 and 18) with a series of speed skating events, but that’s just the beginning of the fun. Even if you don’t lace up a skate, you can enjoy kids’ curling, food concessions, a festive dinner and more. (The event has been moved from late January to this weekend for this year only, to accommodate a visiting team of Dutch speed skaters—so look for some Dutch dishes at the food stands!)

Enjoy roots music in Sharbot Lake or Morrisburg


There are no tickets left for this Sunday’s Ottawa concert by the East Pointers, a Juno-winning Celtic/roots group, but you CAN catch them at the Sharbot Lake Country Inn on Tuesday, February 13, or at the Upper Canada Playhouse in Morrisburg on Saturday, February 17. Fiddler/singer Tim Chaisson, banjoist Koady Chaisson and guitarist Jake Charron, just back from a tour of New Zealand, are known for their lyrical storytelling and catchy-yet-authentic tunes.

See Beauty and the Beast in Cornwall and Embrun

The Seaway Valley Theatre Company is presenting Beauty and the Beast at the Aultsville Theatre in Cornwall (February 16 to 24). This always-popular family show about Belle and her prince (trapped in a beastly body) features all the familiar Disney tunes. (Speaking of Beauty and the Beast, that’s the theme of an exhibition of works by young artists at La Maison des Arts in Embrun, running until the end of February.)

Cheer for snowmobilers in Eganville


Snowmobile fans will be heading to Eganville this weekend for the 44th annual Bonnechere Cup (February 16 to 18), three days of high-speed racing on a professional ice oval. The video above gives you a sense of the action!

Celebrate winter in and around Sharbot Lake

In Central Frontenac (the area around Sharbot Lake and Arden, 90 minutes to two hours southwest of Ottawa), the Frontenac Heritage Festival takes place from February 16 to 19, with everything from a variety show and a farm tour to a Harry Manx concert and a polar bear plunge.

Raise a glass in Ottawa


Winter Brewfest gives you the chance to sample craft beers from more than 40 breweries at Lansdowne Park (February 16 and 17). Along with trying beers galore, you can nibble on snacks and enjoy beats from a changing roster of DJs.

Catch a panto-thriller-farce in Perth

Can’t decide whether you want to see a pantomime, a thriller or a farce? Hedge your bets and try Panto Can Be Murder, a brand-new play staged by Barn Door Productions at the Full Circle Theatre in Perth (February 16 to 25). It purports to tell the real story of what happened backstage at the company’s production of Cinderella earlier this season.

Ogle cool cars in Toronto

Closeup of an Audi dashboard.

Photo by Emil Vilsek on Unsplash.

The world’s fastest car! Exotic vehicles! Life-sized Hot Wheels! No matter what revs your engine when it comes to cars, you’ll probably find it at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, which runs February 16 to 25.

Ski for kids at Mont Ste. Marie

Mont Ste. Marie’s annual Ski for Kids event (Friday, February 16) is a fundraiser for CHEO and the Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa. As well as hitting the slopes, participants can bid for great prizes in a live auction.

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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