Looking for getaway inspiration—for this weekend or months down the road? Check out these festivals, tournaments, studio tours and other special events within a reasonable drive of Ottawa. (All distances are measured from Parliament Hill unless noted otherwise.)

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February 2017

Butterflies Go Free

February 23 - April 30
Montreal Botanical Garden, 4101 Sherbrooke Street East
Montreal, Quebec H1X 2B2 Canada
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The name of this popular event at the Montreal Botanical Garden is pretty self-explanatory: You wander through the garden's main greenhouse as hundreds of butterflies flit about. Nature interpreters are on hand to tell you anything you want to know about caterpillars, cocoons and more. It's a lovely break from winter. Closed on Mondays except March 6 and April 17. Hours vary.

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May 2017

1000 Islands Writers Festival

May 5 - May 7
Gananoque, Gananoque, Ontario Canada + Google Map

This year, the 1000 Islands Writers Festival in Gananoque will feature 15 Canadian writers—including Terry Fallis, Marni Jackson, Maggie Wheeler and Susan Smith—in 27 sessions and six writers’ workshops. Participants include novelists, a spoken word artist, children's authors/illustrators and local writers. Tickets are available at Gananoque Public Library and Beggars' Banquet Books, or online, and events take place at venues throughout Gananoque.

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Spring Craft Market

May 19 - May 20
Watson’s Mill, 5525 Dickinson Street
Ottawa, Ontario K4M 1A2 Canada
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Watson's Mill, Manotick

Watson's Mill in Manotick kicks off the long weekend with a Spring Craft Market. Hours are from noon to 8pm on Friday, and 10am to 5pm on Saturday. Photo copyright Laura Byrne Paquet.

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Colonel By Classic

May 20 @ 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6 Canada
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Looking for a low-stress run to kick off the warm weather running season? The Colonel By Classic might just be the ticket. Choose from 3K and 8K runs for adults, or a 1K run for kids. Start times are 11:30am for the kids' race and 11:45 for the others, and the starting line is at Carleton University. Online registration closes on Sunday, May 14, but late entries are accepted the day before and the day of the race; see event…

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La Poutine Week

May 23 - May 27
Cornwall, Cornwall, Ontario Canada + Google Map
poutine near Ottawa

Chefs in and around Cornwall vie for awards from customers and judges for their concoctions of fries, cheese curds and gravy during La Poutine Week. Each eatery devises its own special variation, and poutine lovers roam from restaurant to restaurant to sample the results. Last year's recipes included gravy made with Scotch and poutine topped with bacon, pulled pork, lobster or foie gras. In 2016, restaurants sold more than 1,500 dishes of poutine over the five-day event. Flickr/Creative Commons image…

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June 2017

The 416 Art Kruze

June 10 @ 11:00 am - June 11 @ 4:00 pm

Looking for a good reason for a country drive? Check out this self-drive tour along Highway 416 between Kemptville and Cardinal (see map on the event's website). Stops include galleries, farms and gardens, many of which will be running special events and offering deals that day. Shop for jewellery, paintings, yarn and more, and stop for lunch at one of the participating venues: the Brigadoon Restaurant in Oxford Mills, or the Village Pantry, Spencerville Mill or Aubin Farm in Spencerville.…

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Luminato

June 14 - June 25
Toronto, Toronto, Ontario Canada + Google Map
Matthew Pidgeon and Malin Crépin in James III: The True Mirror at a previous Luminato festival. Photo by Tommy Ga-Ken.

This 10-day festival of creativity presents theatre, film, dance, music, visual arts and more. The full lineup is usually released in May. 450km from Ottawa  Save

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Free

Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

June 22 - June 25
Mooney’s Bay Park, 2960 Riverside Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1V 8W6 Canada
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One of North America's largest dragon boat festivals, this event regularly welcomes 75,000 attendees to watch 5,000 paddlers on 200 teams. Dragon boating is a Chinese tradition—originally carried out in the hopes of ensuring a good harvest—that dates back over two millennia. The festival also includes an all-Canadian roster of concerts; this year's musical acts include The Sheepdogs, Dear Rouge, The Zolas, Half Moon Run, Twin Flames and Kalle Mattson. Admission is free, and there's free parking nearby at Canada…

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