Know What’s Happening in The Great Waterway.
*Listings last updated 6/26/2017.
*Listings last updated 6/26/2017.
Canada turns 150 in 2017, and to help you celebrate in South Eastern Ontario, here’s a handy list of Canada-themed events happening in the region throughout the year. Check back often because we’ll keep adding to this list.
Parks Canada is throwing down the welcome mat with free admission to all of its properties all year long (with a free Discovery Pass). In Southeastern Ontario that means unfettered access to over 10 national parks and historic sites, including Thousand Islands National Park and the Rideau Canal, where lock fees will be waived.
With Fort Wellington, over 75 historic homes and sites, and the St. Lawrence at its doorstep, Prescott definitely has a few stories to tell about the impact it’s had on Canada. Read, listen to and watch close to 100 of them at the public library, where volunteers have been collecting tales about all aspects of life in the over 200-year-old town.
Take a culinary trip across Canada with The Drake Devonshire as your guide. Every Sunday until Canada Day this gorgeous, award-winning resto on the banks of Lake Ontario will feature a unique heritage dinner inspired by the food and drink of different areas in the country. Each month the $35 menu will be inspired by a different province, territory or region.
The city of Quinte West isn’t settling for just one day of partying. They’re planning a week-long multicultural bash leading up to Canada Day that’ll include daily celebrations. Details are still being set, but events could include a Francophone music festival, an Aboriginal art festival, an Oktoberfest celebration, a Celtic picnic, and an Italian and Greek food fest.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will be in Canada to help celebrate our 150th, and they’ve chosen Prince Edward County as one of their destinations during their three-day visit. Arriving at CFB Trenton, they’ll make their way to the Wellington Farmers’ Market for an event that will be open to the public.
Plans are still in the works for Canada Day festivities across southeastern Ontario, but since a 150th birthday only comes around once, you can count on each community truly bringing it this year. Canada’s first capital, Kingston, will host the biggest bash, but almost every other community in the region will celebrate, too. Stay tuned to our events page, thegreatwaterway.com/events, for details.
This month-and-a-half long celebration of Canada will feature a documentary photography exhibition; four Saturday night shows focussing on the sights, sounds and food of a different region; and regular photography workshops and outings.
Offered on Saturday evenings in July and August, this immersive family-friendly theatre experience will use the historical backdrop of Upper Canada Village to explore the issues and changes about to come with Confederation.
Prices: Not yet set
The curators of the Brockville Public Library’s art gallery have invited artists to submit works that celebrate Canada’s 150th. Submission will be exhibited throughout July and August, and winners will be chosen by people’s choice ballots. Winners announced July 31st.
Voted one of the top 100 festivals in Ontario, and it’s easy to see why: four days of midway, food from all over the world, adventure sports (zip line or parasailing, anyone?), laser tag, family fishing, a vendor exhibition and even a dog-jumping show. This year, special Canada 150 events will include ParticipACTION Sports Expo and Canada 150 Sesqui Celebration, which is a revolutionary 360° cinematic experience touring all over Canada.
From June 30 to August 20, more than 40 tall ships will sail Canadian waters to honour the country’s 150th. Scheduled to stop in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario, the fleet will make its southeastern Ontario port of call in the historic village of Bath. Head to the waterfront and tour these majestic cathedrals of the sea for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see history up close.
This community talking circle, co-designed with community partners and Indigenous leaders, will be an open discussion on the theme of reconciliation. The intent is to increase our overall cultural competence around Indigenous issues, building on what residents know, how residents feel and how well residents put this knowledge into practice. Additional talking circles will happen throughout the year.
Part of the Kemptville Live Music Festival, this special culinary event will celebrate the bounty Eastern Ontario has been bringing to Canada for 150 years. The centrepiece will be a farmers’ market with over 60 vendors, but there will also be food and drink tastings, exhibits from local artisans, and live music to keep you moving.
Canada’s rail system is like its backbone, connecting communities all across this great land, so it’s fitting that Brockville, home to Canada’s first railway tunnel, will honour it at this special four-day fest. The centrepiece will be the grand re-opening of the tunnel underneath downtown, but there will also be a vintage carnival, a sideshow and even a 5K run.
After a 2016 hiatus, the Wolfe Island Music Festival returns this year. And thank goodness. Where else in the country can you take a 20-minute ferry to an intimate island festival featuring some of the biggest names in Canadian indie music? The headliners this year include Born Ruffians, Land of Talk, Hannah Georgas, Said the Whale, Dilly Dally and Donovan Woods.
Price: $95 – $150
Take a ride in an illuminated dragon boat on the Rideau Canal, get enveloped by the Northern Lights and take in 90 other breathtaking scenes in this 20-minute immersive film experience. Featuring scenes shot in every province and territory and over 380 on-screen performers, this visually stunning journey will show you Canada from a whole new perspective.
Travelling to schools and science centres across the country, this Signature Canada 150 event is all about channeling that inner innovator in all of us. Think immersive, hands-on displays about everything from the world’s largest science experiments to changing ideas about our universe to stories of Canada’s past.
Join thousands of spectators for an unforgettable evening of free entertainment outside on the grounds at the Lennox & Addington County Court House in Napanee. On Saturday, August 19th at 7pm, you’ll hear a live performance from headliner The Irish Descendants, as well as from 70’s Revolution featuring Andrew Martin, and Sol & the Switchblades. Circus Orange will also be on hand for an amazing aerial performance. More details at www.County150.ca.
Take a Canada themed road tour through South Frontenac, where locations in each of the four districts will feature special events devoted to a particular province. Locations will include hidden gems, like the train track park in Battersea, Fermoy Hall in Bedford, as well as more well-known venues such as the Point in Sydenham and rally headquarters at Centennial Park in Harrowsmith. Exact date not yet available.
Throughout 2017, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is partnering with orchestras and ensembles across the country for a special pan-Canadian celebration. Over 40 new works — including two-minute pieces called “Sesquies” — will be co-commissioned and presented from coast to coast to coast. Kingston location and concert details not yet available.
Price: Not Yet Available
This Canada-wide portrait competition showcases the work of 30 contemporary artists. Open to any Canadian artist who depicts a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, the juried prize is partially meant to develop an historical record of Canadians by Canadians. The winner receives $20,000, and the exhibition of the 30 finalists will be held at two venues: the Firehall Theatre in Gananoque and the Peel Art Gallery in Brampton.
We’ll keep adding to this list all year, so stay up to date on Canada 150 events in southeastern Ontario by bookmarking this page. In the meantime, head over to our events page for even more things to do.
See More Events In The Great Waterway
Right on the heels of our last food related mini-blog is yet another bite-sized article about the many edible experiences to be had in South Eastern Ontario. From wine and cheese festivals to craft beer fests and beyond, June is shaping up to be one tasty month indeed.
Time to clear my calendar, and perhaps invest in a pair of stretchy pants. It’s about to get real.
Discover a world of flavour!
Explore even more delicious dining experiences
Confession time: I love food. There. It feels better getting that out in the open. Then again, who doesn’t? Here in South Eastern Ontario, there is an incredible selection of places to eat from casual settings to fine dining venues that are fit for royalty. [Read more…]
As the damp rainy days of April give way to the lush emerald hues of May – we find ourselves at the dawn of South Eastern Ontario’s more beautiful (and delicious) time of year. May is a month filled with breathtaking blooms of flowers and blossoms that fill the air with a lively and luscious aroma.
Also upon the air is the scent of bar-b-q’s, smokehouses and an altogether sense of awareness that one is surrounded by a multitude of mouthwatering culinary experiences throughout The Great Waterway. [Read more…]
There’s nothing more cult-classic, and carnivorously comforting than sinking your teeth into the juicy bliss of an epic hamburger. I’m not talking about fast food here, but rather the experience of enjoying a master crafted burger from a wide range of fantastic pubs and unique restaurants, right here in South Eastern Ontario. [Read more…]
As we find ourselves in February, we can finally see that light at the end of that tunnel known as winter. The sun holds fast to the evening horizon as the days grow longer if ever so slightly, and yes, love is in the air.
This year, instead of the typical box of truffles, or Netflix and chill; why not drop the kids at grandma’s and whisk yourselves away for a romantic getaway here in beautiful Southeastern Ontario? Don’t have kids? Then my friend, your planning phase just got way easier.
For your consideration, I present this lovely list of amorous escapes and relevant romantic dinner suggestions that will make this year’s Valentine’s one for the history books.
**Note: the vacancy of these venues was checked as of January 27th, but availability is definitely limited.
Auberge Chesley’s Inn is a beautiful Georgian style house and B&B that has quite an interesting history. First built in 1814, it has been host to many famous guests over the centuries including famed writer Charles Dickens himself!
The decor of the Chesley’s suites are akin to stepping into a long lost and romanticized era, but with all the modern amenities one would expect, including ensuite baths and rainforest showers.
In the morning, be prepared for some epic breakfast choices at Chesley’s Inn, ranging from lighter fare to a full-fledged French Canadian breakfast spread.
Russell Manor is a glorious manse, first built in the early 1870s. The house is a striking tribute to French Second Empire architecture, with a warm and authentic Victorian-inspired decor.
I stayed here with my wife for a weekend in 2011 when we were in town for a Medieval Festival and were blown away.
Today, this elegant bed and breakfast is still going strong and has received nothing but positive reviews over the years. The owners; Michael and Ron are excellent hosts and serve what is, in my opinion, the best omelettes I’ve ever had, using herbs grown in their gardens.
They are planning a special dinner event for guests checking in on Valentine’s Day, so seize your chance to experience this one of a kind b&b in Morrisburg.
Situated in the beautiful riverside town of Prescott, The Colonel’s Inn is a breathtaking example of 19th-century construction. In 1835 it was the home of Colonel Alexander McDonnell and has close military ties. At one point, the basement was a temporary barracks for soldiers stationed at Fort Wellington National Historic Site.
Today, the Colonel’s former residence offers guests an incredible opportunity for a romantic getaway in true Victorian style and decadence. The rooms are classically decorated and feature a fabulous fusion of lavish furnishings and modern conveniences.
The most romantic, and eye-catching of the suites would have to be The Loft, which is located in a separate building that was once the carriage house. This spacious room features an en-suite whirlpool and private entrance.
Although the Inn does not do dinner on a regular basis, romantic dinners at The Colonel’s Inn are available with advanced notice for booked guests. If you are more in the mood for a restaurant, the management can suggest a number of options.
A full hot breakfast is served each morning with free flowing coffee and tea available throughout the day, and on-site parking is free. For more information visit the Inn’s website.
The Sir Isaac Brock B&B is a painstakingly restored 1824 limestone Georgian-style house that today, offers luxurious suites in a unique and heritage styled atmosphere in Brockville’s charming downtown area.
This captivating B&B is only steps away from Brockville’s premiere attractions, shopping and dining venues making it a novel choice for a fun-filled escape for two. The Sir Isaac Brock B&B is also a 2017 Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice winner with rave reviews.
For dinner, I’d recommend a short five-minute stroll down John Street for a decadent meal at The Mill Restaurant. This piece of Canada’s history is a real labour of love that was brought back from the brink when it was purchased and renovated into the charming restaurant it is today.
Just one look at the Noble Suites in Brockville and you can feel a certain romantic tingle in the air. The ornate and ancient inspired ionic pillars which embrace the main entrance is a near mythical sight of which Cupid himself would be smitten.
The extravagant suites within are absolutely arresting in decor, and about as close as one can get to spending the weekend in a Victorian romance novel. This is definitely a destination for a private and personalized stay in a vintage style inn with modern comforts.
Abbott Road Suites is a very private venue comprised of two magnificent suites of a more modern and refined atmosphere. Situated in a taking executive bungalow, the suites are equally luxurious and have private access.
I’d call dibs on The West Suite, however, which sports a fireplace, a heated tile washroom complete with separate walk-in shower, and a Jacuzzi.
For dinner, it’s certainly worth the short drive to experience Kemptville’s iconic and storied fine dining venue: The Brigadoon; for a mouthwatering Filet Mignon. If beef isn’t your thing, I hear that the Chicken Drambuie is to die for. At any rate, the Brigadoon’s menu more than speaks for itself.
Standing proudly in Merrickville since 1860, the stunning Baldachin Inn features a heritage designated interior with original stained glass windows, stonework, and other brilliant features.
The on-site restaurant & pub offers traditional old world inspired cuisine along with the warm hospitality and atmosphere associated with the timeline.
It’s large stone fireplace, and arched windows are beautiful and certainly help enhance an already unforgettable experience. One night here, and you’ll know why many refer to Merrickville as the Jewel of The Rideau.
Situated in the heart of Westport, the Lockhouse B&B offers guests a pair of spacious and private suites only steps away from town. The suites are well-priced and feature private and comfortable accommodation.
The Lockhouse sports an attractive library and living space for relaxing; and serves a full breakfast with both vegan and gluten free options available. The Lockhouse B&B’s website is currently under construction, so for contact info visit their page on BB Canada.com.
The Tangled Garden Cafe is a short but splendid walk from the B&B and presents a versatile menu of delicious choices ranging from creative omelets to super sandwiches; as well as some great pasta dishes and entrees.
The Cove Restaurant & Resort has been a favourite spot for travelers since 1988. Current chef Joanne Edwards applies her passion and culinary talent, crafting home cooked dishes based on the now legendary menu items made famous by Mary Cowan, the Cove’s owner.
The ambiance and atmosphere of the Cove’s dining room are both memorable and inviting, making this restaurant a treasured element of Westport’s experience. The menu has items suited for every taste, from steaks to pasta; as well as the prized Westport original: The Growley Basket.
On top of the epic food, the inn itself is wonderful and has a luxurious spa conveniently located next door for all your de-stressing desires.
When I last checked there was still weekday availability at the Inn, but be sure to check the Cove’s website to confirm vacancy.
The fabled Gananoque Inn has a special place in my heart, not only for it’s rich and significant local history; but also because my wife and I spent our first anniversary there. This visually striking building that was once a carriage-works became a famous inn prior to the turn of the century.
The suites and interior of the building proper, boast an accurate and welcoming Victorian charm, with one of the most picturesque dining rooms I’ve ever visited: The Watermark. The atmosphere and accommodations are a living example of 19th-century luxury and service.
Speaking of which, it’s worth mentioning the Valentine’s Getaway Package; which features chocolate covered strawberries and sparkling wine, one night’s accommodation, dinner for two and also includes breakfast.
There is only weekend availability during winter, so spots will likely go quickly. For accommodations and bookings, visit the Gananoque Inn & Spa’s website.
This divine utopia of relaxation and luxurious accommodation is an all-in-one destination for couples looking to melt the stress away and unwind in style.
My dinner choice to accompany a night at the Rosemount would have to be Windmills Cafe, where fine dining and amazing local artwork intersect. The dinner menu is full of superb choices and covers a variety of tastes.
After returning to the Rosemount don’t forget to take advantage of their magnificent breakfast menu. I am told that the Welsh Toast is the stuff of legends.
The inn’s mesmerizing interior features a grand parlour with turret window seating, ‘fainting couches’ and furnishings made popular in the 1830’s set around an ornate fireplace. The lovingly decorated suites are evocative of an era when comfort and luxury were more of an artform.
For dinner, consider Stone City Ales, which is just a short walk from the inn. Not only is this one of Kingston’s famed craft breweries, but it’s also a favoured taproom and dinner venue serving up some amazing dishes. I’d recommend sharing a more intimate and interactive dish like their popular charcuterie boards, paired with a flight (or two) of Stone City’s excellent brews.
Among Kingston’s most recognizable overnight options is the famous Hochelaga Inn. This arresting French Victorian Mansion features 21 rooms each different in their own way but sharing in the Hochelaga’s vexing Victorian theme.
The most famous suite is the Tower Room for obvious reasons. It’s almost mystical in a way with its tiny staircase that leads to a stain glass illuminated turret room that also has a ladder that leads to the tower proper, and a meditative room.
For dinner, I suggest the low-light ambiance of Megalos Restaurant. The menu is robust but not complicated and features a selection of really sexy sounding pasta dishes. For dessert, ask about the “Show Stoppers” and thank me later.
The Frontenac Club Inn is an acclaimed bed and breakfast located in the heart of Kingston’s historic downtown area. Originally built in 1845 as a bank, this charming limestone building later became a gentlemen’s club in 1903.
Their suites are bright, lively in decor, and perfect for weekend retreats and exemplary comfort. Breakfast the next day will be an experience in itself comprising of locally sourced ingredients.
Not far from the Frontenac Club is the Brock Street Common and one of Kingston’s most popular dining choices: the Chien Noir Bistro.
This bistro has an ambiance that screams romance and comes with an equally fanciful menu. I highly recommend the poutine, which features Quebec brie, shredded duck confit, and a brilliant “green peppercorn cognac jus”.
Hidden in plain sight on Kingston’s West end is the Green Acres Inn. Positioned a short drive from downtown, and surrounded by prime shopping and dining options, this quaint but luxurious Inn has plenty in store.
One look at the suites is all you need. The Tulip Suite has a jacuzzi, and not one but two fireplaces; one of which is in the bathroom along with a television.
Now you can watch When Harry Met Sally while soaking in the hot tub and relaxing by the fire simultaneously. What a time to be alive!
When hunger strikes, Ramekins is a quick six-minute drive or cab ride away. For 20 years this local family owned establishment has been well known for casual fine dining at it’s best. The quiet and relaxed atmosphere is perfect for an intimate dinner for two. The menu is full of tantalizing choices and has the best price for a pound of mussels I’ve seen on this side of Halifax.
Belleville’s St. John’s Inn and B&B is in a prime location that places this lovely stone house in proximity to several local attractions including the Empire Theatre, Spa 237 and the Pinnacle Playhouse.
Paulo’s Italian Trattoria is a mere nine-minute walk from St. John’s; and nothing quite says “amore” like a romantic Italian dinner. Paulo’s website is a bit old school, but their menu features a bounty of Mediterranean finery including pasta, pizza, steaks and more.
For more information and booking options, please visit St. John’s Inn’s BB Canada page.
Reminiscent of the grand plantations of the American South, the Montrose Inn & Tea Room is an enchanting example of antebellum architecture, right here in The Great Waterway. The mansion was built in 1916 and still has several original features; over a century later.
The elegance of the suites only serve to enhance the overall experience with their authentic furnishings and extravagant decor. The room that caught my eye is the Adelina which boasts an en-suite ‘two-person thermal masseuse tub’, gas fireplace, spa robes and splendid furniture.
To add to the romantic energy, consider the eastern delights of the nearby Royal Haveli for a spicy and exotic meal of fine Indian cuisine. There’s something about Indian food that invokes a certain romance. Perhaps this is because it originates from the very same culture that produced the Kama Sutra.
Prince Edward County is regarded as one of Southeastern Ontario’s most famous destinations for romantic escapes, fantastic food, and arresting scenery. The Waring House is no exception to those claims, as you will soon discover.
This astonishing Inn is a memorable choice for couples seeking an unforgettable retreat. Among their splendid choice of suites, I have my heart set on the Vineyard View Cottage, because, that’s how I roll.
You won’t have to go far to find a delicious dinner at Amelia’s Garden which is located in-house. One glimpse at one of their sample dinner menus will have you scrambling to make a reservation.
Nestled away in Picton, at the heart of the County is the elegant and historic: Merrill Inn.
Host to 13 wonderfully appointed suites, the Merrill’s accommodations feature original local art, pillow-top bedding and (depending on which room) jacuzzi’s and cozy fireplaces.
Stays include a complimentary hot breakfast and afternoon refreshments. Enjoy a sumptuous meal consisting of County bistro cuisine; created by the very talented: Chef Michael Sullivan, in the Merrill’s intimate on-site restaurant.
Angeline’s Inn is a grand Victorian edification to the history and mesmerizing charm of Prince Edward County. The building dates back to the prosperous Barley Days era between 1860 and 1890 and has a rather extensive story of its own.
The management was kind enough to inform me that the in-house eatery is closed for January and February but suggested the nearby Saylor House Cafe for breakfast and lunch, and Agrarian Bistro for lunch and dinner.
Last but certainly not least is the Drake Devonshire. This epic destination takes ownership of its own unique blend of culture, community, and enriched hospitality.
The rooms feature a stunningly modernized design that clearly differentiates from more vintage themed inns throughout the region.
Dining at the Devonshire is always a treat, with a mouthwatering menu catering to brunch, lunch, or dinner. The only difficult aspect of staying at the Drake Devonshire is leaving.
While we’re still a couple of weeks away from Valentine’s, there are still plenty of opportunities to plan for and arrange a much-needed escape. With our proximity to Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto, The Great Waterway offers a bounty of options here in Southeastern Ontario that are only a short drive away.
I hope that this collection of ideas inspires you and that special someone to treat yourselves to a truly memorable and refreshing retreat. This year, do something spontaneous and enjoy a romantic experience you won’t soon forget.
Your Romantic Escape Awaits!
It’s time to bid adieu to the year that brought us the Rio Olympics and too much Trump, and toast 2017. The only problem: where to cheers on New Year’s Eve? A nice restaurant? A rock show? Both? If you’ll be in southeastern Ontario when the clock strikes 12, read on. I’ve scoured the listings from across the region and crafted a foolproof list of New Year’s Eve events that’s sure to include a party for you.
Think top-40 50s and 60s rock n’ roll with the backdrop of vintage air craft at this one. Freddy Vette & The Flames is the entertainment, but that World War II Halifax Bomber (the only one of its kind in the world) is pretty compelling, too. Held in the main exhibition area of Canada’s only air force museum, the night starts with a roast beef dinner and ends with Freddy Vette’s dance party. In between: a cash bar and a chance to check out some of the hundreds of artifacts and aircraft on display. $70. freddyvette.com | airforcemuseum.ca
Rock out in a gorgeous 700-seat theatre like it’s 1969, arguably the greatest year in rock music. Belleville’s All You Need is Love will play songs from some of that year’s best records, including The Beatles’ “Abbey Road,” The Who’s “Tommy,” and Led Zeppelin “I” and “II.” They’ll also blast classics by Neil Young, MC5, The Rolling Stones and others from the time. And don’t worry, this isn’t your dad’s basement tribute band. Each of the six bandmates is an accomplished musician, and together they’ve played venues from Liverpool to San Francisco. $50 (late-night munchies included). theempiretheatre.com
The hippest — and most recognized boutique hotel and restaurant in southeastern Ontario will ring in the New Year with a multi-course seated dinner, a couple of circus acts and a Motown dance party. Choose from a four- or five-course dinner with options like oyster carpaccio, head cheese terrine and braised beef cheek ravioli while enjoying a little tableside magic. Take a break with a fire spinning performance outside by the lake, and then head back in to get down with a DJ spinning everything from Stevie Wonder to The Supremes to The Jackson 5 to Marvin Gaye. $35 – $125. thedrake.ca
Three parties, one place, you pick. That’s been the New Year’s Eve pitch for years at this County-loved resto and inn. This year, one party happens in The Barley Room Pub and includes a three-course dinner, live music by The Reasons and bubbly at midnight ($49). Another, in Amelia’s Garden restaurant, features five courses, bubbly and, if you want, music by The Reasons in The Barley Room Pub ($65). And the third, in Waring Hall, is a dinner buffet with a dance starring former Guess Who frontman Carl Dixon and his band ($65). Accommodation packages available. waringhouse.com
Though fine on their own, Fort Henry’s two New Year’s Eve options are best paired together. One is a three-course, Cajun-style dinner served in the decorated heritage mess rooms ($40). The other, called “Lumina Borealis,” is an illuminated outdoor night walk through the grounds of the UNESCO World Heritage Site (kids under 6: free; 6-12: $10; adults: $12). I’d recommend dinner first — you might need the heat of the gumbo, stuffed pork, warm pudding or seven other options to keep you going on the 1-kilometre walk. foodandheritage.com | luminaborealis.com
A great option for families and a non-alcohol event, the annual K-Town Countdown happens inside and outside the 6,700-seat Rogers K-Rock Centre arena. Inside there will be skating, of course, but there will also be live music and a drum circle to groove with, along with face painting, arts and crafts, and even a magician. Brant “FireGuy” Matthews will be outside performing a busker-style fire and light show, and there will be wagon rides out there, too. Then, at 9 pm, the big finale: a fireworks display at Confederation Park. Free. cityofkingston.ca
If you’re up for a cozy New Year’s Eve with an east coast twist, this is your ticket. The night starts with Chef Joanne Edwards’ buffet dinner and ends with Kingston-based Turpin’s Trail, a quartet that draws from Celtic, folk, bluegrass and pop persuasions. Both will give you a good taste of the legendary Cove, whose grand old house has been standing beside Upper Rideau Lake since 1876. Today The Cove is best known for quality comfort food, quaint accommodations and some of the best live music you’ll find up and down the Rideau. $50. Accommodation specials available. coveinn.com
This classy New Year’s Eve party in the Thousand Islands is all about good food and classic tunes inside a historic inn on the banks of the St. Lawrence (and champagne at midnight, of course). The buffet will feature prime rib, baked salmon and roasted turkey, while the three-piece tribute band, Trilogy, will play everything from The Beatles to Abba to Amy Winehouse to Adele. Accommodation packages (with a New Year’s Day brunch) are also available. $89 – $429. glenhouseresort.com
Need more music options on New Year’s Eve than what the usual tribute band or DJ can offer? Then head to a few of the 16 concerts happening in six historic churches all over downtown Brockville. Local bands, choirs, ensembles and soloists will play everything from classical to bluegrass to show tunes to jazz, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding something you’re into. And since the concerts are happening in churches with great acoustics, the sound should be impeccable. At midnight, join Brian Porter at Wall Street United Church as he channels the ghost of Sir John A. MacDonald and kicks off Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. Free. brockvilletourism.com
This annual light festival stays open an hour later on New Year’s Eve, meaning you’ll have more time to explore the 19th-century replica village all lit up by almost one million lights. You’ll also be able to linger over dinner, maybe take an extra ride on the Ferris wheel or toy train, or get lost in the Mistletoe Maze. And hey, maybe this year you’ll finally book that horse-drawn carriage ride. With so much going on — and an extra hour to see it all — you might need this list of 10 tips for making the most of Alight at Night. $12 – $14. Kids under 6: free. uppercanadavillage.com
This is the only New Year’s Eve party in the region where you can don a costume and not feel out of place. Hosted by the same folks behind the Comic-Con-like festival held every spring in Cornwall, this third annual NYE party welcomes everyone, whether you’re in jeans, a tuxedo or Iron Man getup. Over 300 people are expected, and two tribute bands — Lost Boyz and Spare Partz — will keep you moving all night long. There will also be a hot and cold buffet, party favours, silent auction and door prizes. $30. cornwallpopevent.com
As you can see, southeastern Ontario isn’t lacking for a wide range of things to do on New Year’s Eve. But even if you don’t see a party for you on the list, don’t worry — stay tuned to The Great Waterway’s events page for even more ways to ring in 2017!
That magical time is just around the corner. Everywhere you look colourful lights are being strung from houses, and beautiful emerald trees are being decorated. The familiar tune of festive songs fill the air, and before you know it, the holiday season is upon us.
Here in the Great Waterway, the celebration is a pretty big deal. From the Bay of Quinte to Cornwall and the Counties this entire region offers an assortment of prime destinations for those looking to get into the holiday spirit.
Without further delay, here is a collection of merry festivals, events, and other fun-filled activities that are sure to help get even the grouchiest of Scrooge into the spirit of the season.
Wassail is a tribute to an ancient tradition that commemorates the harvest and winter’s approach. It stems from the ancient phrases: “wæs hæil” (Middle English) and “ves heill” (Old Norse) both meaning: “Be in (good) health!”
The celebration involved “merrymakers” who would travel from house to house singing songs of joy, sharing in feasts, and raising a glass of delicious mulled cider or wine. Today, Wassail is wonderfully observed throughout The County by similar traditions including the ceremonial burying of grapevines to protect them from the approaching winter.
Visitors can take the self-guided route or join bus tours and experience a culmination of the cultural and agricultural elements that make The County’s Wassail celebrations so fantastic.
More information about tickets and participating locations can be found on the Prince Edward County Wine Growers Association’s website.
November 19 & 20, 26 & 27, December 3 & 4 2016.
Join in the celebration the harvest as the vines are buried in preparation for winter. Enjoy late harvest mulled wine with delicious treats.
Guided tours are available as well as interactive wreath making workshops using harvested grapevines. Details are available on the Prince Edward County website.
November 19, 20 and 26, 27 December 3, 4, 2016
Wreath making: 11AM-3PM
Vineyard tour walk about: 10:30 a.m. & 2:00 p.m. Saturdays.
The halls of Picton’s Macaulay House are decked in the fashion of an 1850’s Christmas. Sample savoury heritage recipes, entertainment in the parlour and more!
You can also get your hands on some delicious plum pudding and other items in the gift shop. This heritage twist on the holidays is not one to miss!
Full details are available at the Prince Edward County Website.
November 19, 26, and December 3, 2016
Candlelight Tours from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Bundle up and prepare for an afternoon of holiday cheer throughout the beautiful village of Ameliasburgh.
Take horse-drawn wagon rides that stop at various locations including the Town Hall, Library, a Masonic Lodge, the schoolhouse, and more!
Enjoy refreshments, crafting workshops for the kids, irresistible bake sales, and other festive themed events.
For details visit the Ameliasburgh Event Calendar.
December 4, 2016, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
In addition to the seasonal festivities of The County; there is, of course, the annual Picton Santa Claus Parade. Enjoy the music of the marching bands and enjoy the shops restaurants and cafes of Main Street with family and friends alike.
Details of the event are available right here on The Great Waterway.
November 27, 2016
The parade begins at 2:00 p.m. ending with the arrival of Santa.
As the holiday season approaches, the Bay of Quinte transforms into a brightly lit winter wonderland. Several public parks and spaces are lovingly decorated with gorgeous lighting displays.
These vivid and vibrant displays of lights stem from a legendary local history and offer visitors some of the region’s most breathtaking evening walks alongside fantastic options for holiday shopping and dining.
The annual displays of Jane Forrester Park draw thousands of people each year as the park is brought to life by way of brilliant lights and festive ambiance.
There are free coach buses on hand courtesy of Franklin Tours. They will pick up visitors and residents from locations throughout Belleville and shuttle them to and from the event.
This magical lighting ceremony is Belleville’s official Christmas kick-off and can be enjoyed from the first Friday after Remembrance Day until January.
More information is available on Belleville’s website.
This event offers visitors a double feature which combines the 27th annual Frankford Santa Claus parade and the Fantasy of Lights.
Enjoy a classic parade featuring Santa himself. Find elaborate floats and fun for the whole family starting at 2 p.m. Later on the Fantasy of Lights kicks off with entertainment by local musician Dave Charron. Follow that up with fireworks and more!
The Fantasy of Lights display will continue until January 2nd, 2017. More info is available on the Bay of Quinte website.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Frankford Santa Claus Parade at 2:00 p.m.
Lighting Celebration at 5:00 p.m.
Doug Whitney was a dedicated Trenton City Councillor who served five terms and was well known and loved throughout the community.
To commemorate his service to the community and those whose lives were touched by Mr. Whitney, the Fantasy of Lights event at Fraser Park has been dedicated to his memory.
Tour magical waterfront light displays while listening to classic holiday tunes, enjoy hot chocolate and other tasty treats. Event details are available on the Quinte West website.
November 26, 2016, to January 2, 2017
Hot dogs and hot chocolate starting at 3:30 p.m.
The Land O Lakes region is well known for its summer activities. As winter approaches, however, it transforms into a snowy landscape filled with a variety fun activities. The holiday celebrations and the welcoming of the coming New Year are felt throughout the area – and everyone’s invited.
Napanee’s Big Bright Light Show is most certainly something to see. Once the lighting ceremony and block party kick off, this historic downtown strip transforms into Holiday Central.
Browse the shops under the glow of elegant lighting and window displays, and enjoy some scrumptious holiday munchables.
Lighting Ceremony and Block Party
November 25, 2016, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Lights are on each and every night,
from November 25, 2016, to January 31, 2017
9th Annual Downtown Napanee Annual Shopping Party
December 16, 2016 from 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Santa is coming to Greater Napanee on Saturday, December 3rd for the Greater Napanee Parade of Lights!!
Join in the fun as hundreds line the streets and celebrate the holidays with over 70 decorative floats, music, and good old-fashioned fun!
Details are available at the Greater Napanee website.
December 3, 2016, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Enjoy an evening of holiday cheer, music and goodies as the L&A County Archives hosts the third annual “A Christmas Tree” event.
Bring the kids, and watch their reactions when they get to meet “Father Christmas” himself and some of his reindeer in the courtyard. Full details are available over at GreaterNapanee.com.
I would like to add at this point, that Santa has to got to be the best multi-tasker in the known universe.
December 13, 2016, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Together, the Tamworth Library and Tamworth Hotel host the Village Craft Show. These fantastic events are perfect for finding unique handmade gifts and stocking stuffers made by local makers.
Remember to bring some non-perishable food items for the Lion’s Club food hamper! Details available at Tamworth.ca.
December 4, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Continuing with his planet-wide travels, Santa always swings by Tamworth for a party with his friends at the Royal Canadian Legion.
Check out some locally made crafts, enjoy some refreshments after the parade, and have your kids bring their letters for the big man himself.
This is also another opportunity to contribute non-perishable food items to Lions Club Christmas Hamper. Full details can be found at Tamworth.ca.
Santa Claus Parade starts at 1:00 p.m. December 4, 2016.
This may sound biased since I am a certified and unapologetic Kingstonian, but the Limestone City and surrounding area(s) have everything required to get you amped up for Advent.
In addition to historically themed window shopping, ice-skating in Springer Market Square or the variety of delicious dining options; there are several holiday-themed events that I’m sure Yule fall in love with.
This is a relatively new addition to Downtown Kingston’s series of holiday/winter events. However, it offers a host of fun (FREE) activities for the whole family.
Take a spin on the Holiday Tour Trolley, shop the Holiday Market, Enjoy free ice skating, and epic live entertainment. Visitors can also donate to the Kingston Toy Drive, chill with Santa and participate in fun holiday themed games. Event details are available on the City of Kingston website.
Pro-tip: Make sure you score some of the maple taffy on snow. If “omg” were a flavour, this would be it.
December 9, 2016, from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Skating in Springer Market Square begins December 9, 2016 (weather permitting) until spring melt.
More information on skating and rentals are also on CityofKingston.ca.
Winter is by far the most popular time of year at Little Cataraqui Creek. For as long as I can remember people have gathered here each year for cross-country skiing, skating, snowshoeing and scenic hikes.
Equipment is available for rent at the Outdoor Centre. And for complete newbies like myself – they offer cross-country ski lessons as well
The CRCA hosts a series of events each year leading up to and after the holidays making Little Cat Creek a prime destination for near limitless winter fun.
Below is a convenient round-up of events fit for the whole family.
December 3, 2016, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Cost is $2 per person plus the regular gate fee.
Registration is required and available online at www.crca.ca/online-services.
Outdoor Christmas Party For the Animals
There’s nothing more relaxing and grounding than getting in-tune with nature and hand feeding some chickadees.
The best part is, the kids will be blown away as they watch the little birds eat directly from their outstretched palm (if they can hold still long enough)!
December 18, 2016, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Open Year Round, 7:30 a.m. to dusk, daily.
For more information on all CRCA events visit: CRCA.ca.
Starting December 1st, Fort Henry National Historic Site will undergo a transformation of mystical proportions.
“In the magical land of Lumina Borealis, winter’s secrets are kept safe. Visitors will journey across a frozen landscape and into another world, to reignite their winter spirit. They will be guided from ice to fire, and from darkness to light, finding their way through a mysterious land of enchantment, to the very source; where Winter’s secrets are yearning to be discovered and unlocked.”
In Gananoque, the upcoming Holiday Season is marked with a host of favourite events that draw many visitors each year. To top it off, Gananoque’s historic downtown area presents visitors with an opportunity enjoy a nostalgic window-shopping wonderland that’s sure to inspire and enrich the overall experience.
If you are looking for some unique ideas for gifts this year, then look no further than the Gananoque Holiday Show. Here you will find a combination of local artisans, creative one of a kind gifts and a welcoming atmosphere. Check Gananoque.ca for details.
Also, be sure to check out “Before the Rush” which is another gift show happening on the same weekend. This show features more in the way of home furnishings, and art. (They also have food & wine!)
Admission to either show is free.
November 25, 2016, from 4PM to 8PM
November 26, 2016, from 10AM to 4PM
November 25, 2016, from 6PM to 9PM
November 26, 2016, from 10AM to 5PM
November 27, 2016, from 10AM to 4PM
Celebrate the Season is a hands-on workshop where participants will create a unique holiday decoration, and enjoy refreshments with excellent company.
More information can be found at Gananoque.ca.
December 14, 2016, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
On December 4th, Gananoque will echo with the sound of the season carried upon the collective voices of the Gananoque & area Choral Society. If you haven’t witnessed a live Christmas Choir, then this is your chance to experience something you won’t soon forget!
Admission to the event is a good will offering (likely a non-perishable food item) check Gananoque.ca for details.
December 4, 2016, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
This historically rich area of the Great Waterway possesses a uniquely evocative atmosphere for scenic drives, beautiful hikes and a bevy of activities for all ages. From Westport to Merrickville and beyond, the Rideau Heritage Route is a genuinely captivating destination for those seeking the holiday spirit.
After the year’s first blanketing of snow Westport’s Foley Mountain becomes an ideal place to take a romantic winter hike with that special someone.
There are trails suited for multiple skill levels, offering hikers a nice choice of options for exploring this 800-acre conservation area and spotting wildlife.
For more information, check out this post right here on the Great Waterway.
I’ve written about this majestic mill previously, but during the Christmas season this awe-inspiring example of history hosts a holiday event for the ages.
The building is lit up with candlelight as part of Delta’s Celebrating the Season event – and has a unique gift shop open for guests.
For more information see DeltaMill.org.
Mill open from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
November 19, 26 and December 3, 10, 17, 2016.
The “Celebrating the Season” event involves over 80 THOUSAND lights and a series of seasonal displays that is sure to amaze. Along with this vivid visual display, there are wagon rides which are sure to add a particular element of joy to what is already a grand event.
Open from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
November 19 & 26, December 3, 10, 17, 2016.
For more information see BeverlyLakePark.com.
The aptly named “Merry Christmas Shoppe” is the biggest Christmas store between here and Ottawa – and to top it all off, it’s open all year long.
Explore two floors bursting with everything ‘Christmas’ and enjoy a one stop shop for all your decorations and other Yuletide supplies.
When it comes to finding epic holiday shopping environments, all you have to do draw a big red circle around Merrickville.
This event is a superb place to bring the kids. They can have breakfast with Santa (the big man needs to stop for meals from time to time), go nuts at a petting zoo, and squeal with glee and sing songs on horse-drawn wagon rides.
There is also live music and performances from entertainers, fire barrels for warming up, glass blowing demonstrations, a parade – and my favourite part of all: holiday snacks.
December 3rd, all-day
A detailed list of events and times are available at ChristmasinMerrickville.ca.
This popular event is held at the Brockville Farmers’ Market and kicks off December 3rd. This market features local crafts and other items of seasonal interest.
Check BrockvilleFarmersMarket.ca for news and updates.
December 3, 10, 17 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Still making his way across the region, Jolly ol’ St. Nick always makes a stop in Brockville for the Rotary Santa Claus Parade.
This year, volunteers will be collecting non-perishable food items to support the Brockville Food Bank so make sure you bring lots of items to contribute.
Also, don’t let your kids forget to bring their letters to Santa to hand to the volunteers who will also be collecting them along the route. Translation: You’ll be able to get your wishlists to Mr. Claus nice and early.
November 26, 2016, at 2:00 p.m.
For more information visit RotaryBrockville.com.
Get Outdoors at Mac Johnson Wildlife Area
Hike, snowshoe or cross country ski over 11 kilometers of trails woodland, wetlands, and sprawling fields. While weather conditions cooperate – there is also a maintained skating pond on-site complete with a bonfire pit.
Who says it has to be summertime to roast marshmallows and hotdogs? I won’t judge.
Conservation Areas open daily at 7:30 a.m. until dusk
More information is available on the CRCA website.
At the Eastern edge of the Great Waterway lies Cornwall and the Counties – home to two particular holiday light festivals that are so epic they can likely be seen from space. This huge list of festive happenings throughout the region may be coming to a close – but don’t worry, we saved the best for last.
You may have seen the movie. However, nothing compares to a live production of this essential Christmas story. This December, join the Upper Canada Playhouse cast & crew for their dedicated production of Miracle on 34th Street.
Treat your family and friends to the timeless magic of live theatre and let the Miracle on 34th Street fill you with the wonder and spirit of Christmas!
The phrase “Bah-Humbug!” won’t even exist in your vocabulary after this. I guarantee it.
Running from December 2 to December 18, 2016.
For tickets & showtimes, visit UpperCanadaPlayhouse.com.
The 11th Annual Alexandria Festival of Lights brings together the entire community from businesses to schools and other organizations as they hoist over 200,000 lights and create a spectacular event.
There’s also free hot chocolate up for grabs and a fireworks display on New Year’s Eve. Visitors can also vote on their favourite displays throughout this month-long event.
More information can be found at AlexandriaFestivalofLights.com.
FREE Nightly, 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.
November 26, 2016, to December 31, 2016
Opening Night Celebrations November 28
Christmas Eve – Open all night
Closing Night Fireworks December 31
Bundle up and get ready for a festive and fun-filled evening stroll through a completely transformed holiday version of Upper Canada Village.
Close to one million lights are lovingly strung from the heritage buildings, trees, and fences of this historic village frozen in time. The end result is a truly unique and utterly captivating backdrop for this famous holiday festival. If that’s not enough – Santa will be visiting the festival from December 2nd to 23rd. Is there anywhere he can’t be?
Special Warning: Exposure to Alight at Night may result in exuberant outbursts of joy, spontaneous caroling and a persistent craving for eggnog and shortbread. Speak to your doctor to find out if Alight at Night is right for you.
Alight at Night is not a daily event. For detailed information on dates and times for Alight at Night visit: Alight at Night – Upper Canada Village.
As the saying goes: It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And frankly, I couldn’t agree more. The cider is mulling, the fires are crackling and I can already smell the aroma of festive feasts and hear the songs of unanimous cheer.
Regardless of how you celebrate the changing of the season, and the arrival of a New Year; whether it’s Hanukkah, Eid al-Fitr, Christmas or Festivus let it be merry, safe and filled with friends, family and those you love.
Plan Your Holiday Trip
Sure, the crisp air and bright foliage may be enough to entice us off the couch in the fall, but for local or long-distance travellers looking for great places to visit in Ontario, autumn has way more perks to keep us happy: no summer crowds, better deals and some of the best local experiences of the year. From harvest-inspired food fests, to voyageur canoe tours, to 1000 Islands helicopter trips, there’s plenty of things to do in southeastern Ontario this season. Here are a few ideas in 8 areas across the region.
Home to more than 200,000 people between Quinte West and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, the Bay of Quinte region is known for its fishing and love for the cheese, veggies and other bounty its farmers produce. But insiders also know that Bay of Quinte is a hotspot for golfers, gourmands and theatregoers. Throw in an 85-kilometre waterway, 30 conservation areas, 12 crafter breweries and cideries, and you’ve got the makings for a fall trip for the ages.
2 hours from Toronto
3 hours from Ottawa
3.5 hours from Montreal
Though recently dubbed the “gastronomic capital of Ontario” for its 30-plus wineries and gourmet eateries, the County has always been a hidden gem of Ontario travel. Why? Because of gems like Sandbanks Provincial Park and its three sandy beaches or The Regent Theatre and its ever-improving lineup of movies, music and festivals. Whatever your reason for going, expect tasty eats and drinks sourced from stunning local farms, a thriving arts community, and laidback rural island vibes.
2 hours from Toronto
3 hours from Ottawa
4 hours from Montreal
Fall Countylicious (October 28 – November 20)
Creepfest Film Festival (October 28 – 30)
From the Farm Cooking School Class
Wassail (November 19 – 20, November 26 – 27, December 3 – 4)
With over 5,000 lakes, almost 600 trails and a population scattered across small towns like Napanee and Tamworth, Land O’Lakes allows you to experience the best of the Canadian outdoors. And when you do, you’ll discover a few of the 356 native bird species, rolling farmlands and beautiful provincial parks that includes the 5,000-hectare Frontenac Provincial Park. Not the outdoors type? Hit up MacKinnon Brothers Brewing, the Lennox & Addington County Museum and Archives or the United Empire Loyalist Heritage Centre and Park.
2.5 hours from Toronto
2 hours from Ottawa
3.5 hours from Montreal
Maybe you know Kingston as the home of The Hip or as Canada’s first capital or as the place to find Kingston Pen. The point is, this vibrant city on Lake Ontario, home to over 100,000 people, has been famous since before Confederation. Today, its world-class restaurants, bustling downtown and renowned arts hubs like The Grand Theatre, The Tett Centre and Isabel Bader Centre keeps it on the map.
2.5 hours from Toronto
2 hours from Ottawa
3 hours from Montreal
Stretching over 200 kilometres between Kingston and Ottawa and incorporating 47 locks, 16 rivers and 2 lakes, the Rideau Canal is a gorgeous marvel of engineering might. And up and down its banks you’ll find quaint villages and welcoming locals wanting to show and tell its story. At Fort Henry, for example, it’s the story of Canada’s beginnings up close. At Rock Dunder, near Morton, a snippet of the Canadian Shield’s four-billion-year-old tale. While Jones Falls Locks is a testament to the ingenuity that went into building this waterway.
3.5 hours from Toronto
1 hour from Ottawa
2.5 hours from Montreal
Called “The Gateway to the 1000 Islands” because it sits close to where the 1,864 islands begin, Gananoque is an ideal jumping off point for a cruise, hike, scuba diving trip, round of golf or even helicopter tour. And though it has a population of just 5,000, Gananoque boasts a surprising range of fantastic dining options, not to mention acclaimed theatre and musical productions at the Thousand Islands Playhouse on the banks of the Saint Lawrence.
3 hours from Toronto
1.5 hours from Ottawa
2.5 hours from Montreal
With attractions like Canada’s oldest railway tunnel, Fulford Place and the Brockville Museum, you might think Brockville’s population of 22,000 is all about its history. But you’d be wrong — there’s far more. The “City of the 1000 Islands” also celebrates its present and future at places like the Brockville Arts Centre, which is one of the finest medium-sized theatres in Canada, and the new Aquatarium, a state-of-the-art, 27,000-square-foot learning centre all about the waters and wildlife of the region.
3.5 hours from Toronto
1 hour from Ottawa
2 hours from Montreal
Mac Johnson Wildlife Area Fall Festival (October 22)
Hike The Brock Trail
Escape Room (October 18 – 30)
Brockville Farmers’ Market
Brockville Country Club (Golf and Curling)
Brockville Tasting Tours
Haunted Walk on Temperance Lake
Anchored by the City of Cornwall, population 46,000 and one of Canada’s oldest permanent settlements, this region includes six other townships: North Stormont, South Stormont, North Dundas, South Dundas, North Glengarry and South Glengarry. When taken together, they all show off the history of Upper Canada, the beauty of the Saint Lawrence and the vibrancy of small town Ontario. Highlights here include Upper Canada Village, a 19th-century replica village; Cornwall’s Waterfront Trail, a multi-use trail that spans the city’s entire waterfront; and the Glengarry Highland Games, the largest highland games celebration outside of Scotland.
4 hours from Toronto
1 hour from Ottawa
1.5 hours from Montreal
McMaze Family Fun Farm
Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Seaway Food Festival Restaurant Week (October 13 – 22)
Martintown Haunted Mill (October 31)
Hike Glengarry Trails
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