Come Wander

New Year, new you –that’s what we all say, right? As we turn the page of the calendar to 2020 we are embarking on a fresh, clean page where anything is possible.

Each New Year’s party hats are donned, horns blown, toasts made, and the countdown starts, the resolutions start piling up. A new year means a fresh start, a clean slate, and a chance to improve. These resolutions are of course made with the best of intentions.

Did we know when we resolved to eat healthier last New Year’s Eve that three weeks into 2019, we’d be sitting in our house with a foot of fresh snow out our window and a pan of brownies fresh from the oven, just promising to warm us up? Of course not.

Sometimes, resolutions are difficult to keep, but for 2020, we’ve decided to take them more seriously. We’ve resolved to be more resolved (you won’t break us, brownies), and we want to help you do the same!

Below are our suggestions for festivals and events across Ontario’s Highlands that will help you keep your New Year’s resolutions.

Resolution #1: Be More Active

Winter in Canada is cold. This means it can be tempting to hibernate a bit; to retreat inside and wait for the warm sunny days of summer to entice us to get outside and get moving. But this doesn’t need to be the case! Dress for the weather and get outside to get your blood pumping, fill your lungs with fresh air, and find out just how fun this season can be.

Canadian National Pond Hockey Championships

Location: Pinestone Resort, Haliburton, ON
Date: Open Weekend January 24-25, 2020 & Masters Weekend January 31-February 1, 2020

This “pondomonium” event captures the true essence of growing up in Canada –the sound of skates scraping against the ice, of sticks connecting with pucks, and of joy at each hard-won goal. Taking place in Haliburton Highlands, this is the largest pond hockey event on Earth (wow!). Whether you’re participating or spectating, you can celebrate the Canadian sport of pond hockey, feel your heartbeat race as you cheer on teams from near and far, and be amazed by the 700-1000 players who gather to embrace the chill and battle for victory over these two weekends.

Southern Ontario Ice Festival 

Location: Maynooth, ON
Date: February 7-9, 2020

Celebrate the sport of ice climbing with old and new friends at this weekend festival. Work your muscles as you climb at Diamond Lake, improve your skills during a clinic, and demo some of the latest climbing toys, before heading to the Arlington for more fun and games into the evening. This event is perfect for novice climbers looking to break into the sport, or more experienced climbers wanting to brush up on their skills.

Hike Haliburton – Winter Edition

Location: Haliburton, ON
Date: February 8-9, 2020

This event is about more than just hiking and integrates arts, culture, heritage and food and drink experiences into one fantastic event. Take part in over 20 guided and themed snowshoe hikes, demonstrations and events and work up a sweat this winter.

Resolution #2: Give Back

Sometimes we get so busy thinking about what we need to do and where we need to be that we forget there is always time to give back to our community. In Canada, naturally our giving back often involves the winter months (and sometimes getting wet!). Polar Bear Plunges are a popular way to take the plunge for others, and start your new year’s resolutions off with a splash.

Perth Polar Bear Plunge

Location: Perth Legion, Perth, ON
Date: January 1, 2020
Time: 8 a.m. to noon

You don’t need to take the plunge in an icy river to give to this fun event that raises funds for local charities, you can also come and watch and cheer as others shiver for a good cause. The Perth Polar Bear Plunge has been running since 1994, one of the longest running plunges in Canada! Come for the breakfast beginning at 8 a.m. at the Perth Legion and enjoy the community spirit this event creates.

Petawawa Polar Plunge

Location: Centennial Park, Petawaway, ON
Date: January 19, 2020
Time: 12 p.m.

In 2020, the town of Petawawa will be hosting their second annual Polar Plunge, with funds raised going to the Renfrew County Animal Care Centre. In 2019, $4,500 was raised to help the facility, and this year’s event promises to be just as well attended by both two-legged and four-legged creatures.

Resolution #3: Spend More Time with Family

Time flies; it’s one of the most precious commodities we have. This year, make it your top priority to spend time together, to watch smiles light your kids’ faces, to witness every inch they grow, and to create memories with your family.

Dorset Snowball Winter Carnival

Location: Dorset Recreation Centre, Dorset, ON
Date: February 14-15, 2020

Gather together to watch the Snowball Parade, and learn about birds of prey before belting your hearts out at karaoke. Transform yourself with face painting, and document the day by donning zany outfits and fun props in the photo booth.

Celebrate the Maple Harvest

Location: Fulton’s Pancake House & Sugar Bush, Pakenham, ON
Date: February 15-April 22, 2020
Time: Weekdays 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Weekends & Holidays 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Indulge in some of the sweetest traditions around and watch the delight that spreads through your group with each slice of pancake, pull of maple taffy, or bite of maple cotton candy. Bundle up and take a trip down the tobogganing hill, pile into the back of a horse drawn sleigh or wagon for a tour of the sugar bush, or visit the Sugar Shack to learn about the tradition of making maple syrup together.

Resolution #4: Learn a New Skill

In a world where an overload of information is available right at our fingertips, there are still some things that are better to learn in person. Enjoy the authentic personalities of artists and artisans during a workshop this winter, set your creative side free, and learn new skills directly from the experts.

Learn the Art of Glassblowing

Location: Carnarvon,  ON
Date: January 18-23, 2020
Time: Full or half day packages

Discover the art of glassblowing and create your own one-of-a-kind works of glass art with this fun workshop coordinated by Yours Outdoors. Not able to make it to one of the above dates? This workshop can be booked on alternative dates, pending the instructor’s availability.

Try Snowga

Location: Abbey Gardens, Haliburton, ON
Date: January 1, 22, and February 1, 7, 14, 21, 28
Time: 11 a.m. to 2 p .m.

Try a new form of outdoor exercise with snowga, a combination of snowshoeing and yoga (who’d have thought?). This fun outdoor event is coordinated by Yours Outdoors and takes place at the beautiful Abbey Gardens retreat. Spend some time snowshoeing and then participate in a one-hour yoga practice.

Resolution #5: Be a Better Partner

Remember what we said earlier about how precious time is? Make time for each other this year to laugh until it hurts, hold hands, and take date night to a new level.

TIFF Movie Nights in North Hastings

Location: The Village Playhouse, Bancroft, ON
Date: January 14 and February 11
Time: 4:15 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.

Embrace a classic ‘movie date’ and spend an evening tucked into cozy theatre seats as you let yourself explore the lives and struggles of others during the TIFF Films Official Secrets on January 14 and The Farewell on February 11.

Live Music at The Crossing Pub

Location: Sharbot Lake Inn & The Crossing Pub, Sharbot Lake, ON
Date: Various dates January to March 2020

Grab tickets for dinner and a show at The Crossing Pub. Be amazed by the musical talent of local (and not so local) performers. Lose yourself in the sounds of the music, the hearty food, and the intimate atmosphere.



Embrace the Norwegian Concept of “Friluftsliv”

Friluftsliv (free-lufts-liv): Free air life If you’re worried about being stuck indoors this winter, the Scandinavians may have the solution with this hard to pronounce and consonant-filled word: friluftsliv. Loosely translated, friluftsliv means “free air life,” a concept that was coined by writer Henrik Ibsen in 1859. Even if we can’t pronounce it easily, this […]

Tales of Wilno: Exploring Canada’s Oldest Polish-Kashub Settlement

Wilno is a land with stories to tell – many stories, in fact. If the hamlet could talk, it would tell you tales of first settlers, church fires, bustling railway lines, and hockey games played on the outdoor rink. Known as Canada’s first Polish/Kashub settlement, Wilno is the place where settlers from Poland/Kashubia first laid […]

Celebrate All Things German this October

Oktoberfest brings to mind a crowded beer hall filled with large Germans shouting ‘Prost!’ and knocking thick beer steins together with gusto. But is this an event or a cultural celebration? We would argue the latter, and not just because we are looking for an excuse to drink beer and eat schnitzel. This year will […]

Finding Good Medicine on Thunderbird Mountain

Having a guide can turn an everyday hike into the most amazing adventure. Although I’d hiked on my own in the past, making the hike with Tim Yearington of Bird Mountain Journeys wove together a story that allowed a deeper connection and different outlook on nature and history. It gave me a greater outlook on […]

Top 7 Comfort Foods and Where to Find Them

When was the last time you bit down into something so warm and rich, cheesy and flavourful that your heart said “thank you!” and your belly said “more please!” The best comfort foods are rich and calorie-laden, and best enjoyed in a warm, cozy restaurant or at home on the couch in your comfies. These […]

Haunted Walks and Hair-Raising Ghost Tours

Have you ever wandered through an older building and felt the hair raise on the back of your neck, and not been sure why? It may be you are sensing something that others aren’t, some spooky aftereffect from a historical wrongdoing or the ghostly pinings of a disgruntled spirit. Many small communities in Ontario’s Highlands […]

5 Fall Drives to Enjoy with the Windows Down

When the forest has transformed from shades of green to vivid reds, fiery oranges and brilliant yellows, the road will begin calling, sending a gentle reminder that the days where you can head out on the road with the windows down are numbered. In fall you aren’t looking for a highway experience, you want to […]

Big Attractions in Ontario

Are you the type to pull over when you see a comically large roadside attraction, or a picture-perfect spot to snap a few shots? Amateur photographers and Instagrammers alike can agree that a giant ice cream cone, a massive mural adorning the side of a building, or a full-size replica of a jet plane are […]

With Love, to Frontenac County

Now more than ever we are drawn to our community, and the places that help us to unwind and get outdoors. To get away from the crowds and reconnect with our roots. Frontenac County tempts us to sit back, unwind and check into vacation mode, to rediscover a world of countless lakes and a region […]

With Love, to Haliburton Highlands

We are so lucky to come from a place that has it all: phenomenal views, rugged landscapes, abundance of trails, and infinite opportunities for recreation, all enticing you to leave your comfort zone and step into the wild. Here, endless forests meet cool, clear lakes and rivers to create incredible vistas that reach out to […]

With Love, to Lanark County

Lanark County is a land of sweet contrasts, where dense forests of sugar maple border lush, green fields and you’re as likely to come across a cyclist as a farmer on one of the region’s winding roads. Urban and rural unite here to create a region that’s as colourful and varied as the patchwork quilt […]

With Love, to the Ottawa Valley

From the rushing waters of the Petawawa, Madawaska and Ottawa rivers to the unspoiled woodlands of Algonquin Park, the Ottawa Valley is a sultry enchantress, enticing us with adventure. Renowned as a world-class whitewater destination and for the challenges found in its rugged hills and lush dales, the Valley pushes us to do more, live […]

With Love, to Lennox & Addington

Known for its pristine wilderness, incredible views and rugged natural spaces, the majestic beauty of Lennox & Addington speaks to the wanderer inside us all. From the craggy peak of Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo Provincial Park to the starry skies overhead, there is wonder waiting to be discovered here, a vivid reminder of how our […]

With Love, to Hastings County

The deep lakes and meandering rivers here are ripe with life, both on land and in the water. This land is known as a region rich with minerals, and we haven’t forgotten how our communities were settled by the gold rush, where miners flocked, eager to delve into the earth to unearth its riches. Thick […]

Feel Like a Kid Again

Remember when your whole summer was devoted to swimming, playing, catching frogs, and finding adventures? At one time, this was an entire season fueled by ice cream, Freezies, and hot dogs. August always felt so short, and by the time it rolled around you’d scramble to finish your summer bucket list, savouring each shortened day […]

Roots of Revival in Smiths Falls

Ribbons of water and steel sear the land through Smiths Falls. The railroads and rushing Rideau River provide a physical reminder of the industrial heritage that helped shape this small, bold town in the heart of the Rideau Canal, a celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Smiths Falls is a place of contrasts and character, where […]

Bancroft Rocks!

For one of the best views of Bancroft, turn off Highway 62 onto Eagles Nest Crescent; turn right onto Eagles Nest Park Road and go up, up and then up some more. From the parking lot, take the Hawkwatch Trail; it won’t take long. You’ll find the lookout deck where you can see for yourself […]

Best Ontario #RoadTrips

Did someone say road trip? The mere thought of a road trip brings to mind the excitement of heading out on an adventure where you may not know where you will end up but you’re pretty sure the getting there will be half the fun. When you head out for the day the options are […]

Your Guide to COVID-19 Safe Travel in Ontario’s Highlands

We are happy to see that fall is in full swing here in Ontario’s Highlands, and even happier now that we have seen the lifting of many restrictions here in Ontario. After months of staying home we are eager to get out and stretch out legs and imaginations in a region made for discovery. This […]

Hidden Gems Along Letterkenny Road

If you never thought that a simple road could spark your curiosity, initiate historical debates AND bring out your inner geologist, then you have obviously never been introduced to Letterkenny Road. Connecting the hamlets of Brudenell and Quadeville, this fully paved settlement road winds around pristine lakes, and leads you to a prized rose-quartz quarry. […]

Meet Me at the Drive-in

“Stranded at the drive-in, branded a fool What will they say Monday at school?” – Danny Zuko, Grease We could think of worse things than being stranded at the drive-in with Danny Zuko this summer! Maybe it’s because of the 1950s movie Grease, or maybe it’s just because it’s an awesome experience, but there’s something […]

Live the Yacht Life

Live the lifestyle of the rich and famous – for a week, anyway – with a Le Boat cruising staycation.

Date Night In

You don’t need to leave the house for a romantic and locally inspired experience. Bring date night home with these four romantic experiences.

Dear Dads, We Love You

Tell Dad how much awesome he is this Father’s Day with a little local love from these places in Ontario’s Highlands.

An Ode to Summer

A throwback to summers gone past, with inspiration for this year’s adventure.

This Fry’s for You

Challenge accepted: Take on the Great Potato Abundance of 2020 and put a dent in the local potato population.

An Ode to Poutine

Discover these chip trucks and their classic dishes, located throughout Ontario’s Highlands.

High Tea Fit for a Queen

Make a high tea that’s fit for a queen using Tea & Cake’s secret scone recipe and how-to.

Treat Mom at Home

A mother’s hands do a lot for us throughout our lives, from washing dishes to drying tears, and deserve a little break. Treat mom with this DIY home spa experience or purchase a take-home kit with everything you need in it.

Chocoholic Fudgy Cake (Yes, Please!)

Rich, velvety chocolate, whipped ganache, creamy frosting…chocolate cake is the ultimate in old-time comfort foods. Ignite a passion for chocolate with this recipe from Hummingbird Chocolate Maker.

Cooking with Cider

A frosty glass of crisp cider may be the perfect accompaniment for patio sipping, television watching, dock sitting, or just hanging out in the warm, lemony spring sunshine, but did you know it also happens to be a fantastic and versatile ingredient for cooking? For Margaret Van Helvoort and Kees Morsink there is no bad […]

Chocolate Marshkebabs DIY

Easter is just a bunny hop around the corner and dreams of chocolate are filling the minds of children – and adults, too. A chocolate treat is the perfect way to sweeten your spring, and when it comes to this dark delicacy, the folks at Perth Chocolate Works are the experts. Since opening their doors […]

Just Breathe

Discover the beauty of mindfulness and allowing yourself to Just Breathe.

The Great Pizza-Off

Chow down on artisan wood-fired pizza at any of these gems across Ontario’s Highlands.

Perfect Picnic Spots Near Ottawa

Discover these perfect picnic spots throughout the Ottawa Valley and Lanark County on your next road trip just outside of Ottawa.

Coming Home

Discover the story of Sarain Fox and her journey home to the Ontario’s Highlands, relieving memories of ice fishing and snowmobiling along the way.

Spring is Calling

Hanging around the city when the scents of spring are tantalizingly tickling your nose is tough. This is when you yearn to get away from the slush, pack the car and head out for an almost-spring getaway to the countryside, where baby animals, maple syrup, G-rated fun, and fresh air are calling. Get out of […]

Spring Break

The sun is warm, the air smells like spring, and the birds are singing their special warm weather songs. It’s official; spring has sprung. After a long Canadian winter, spring getaways are a time-honoured tradition for families here in the great white north, and haven’t we earned a little fun in the sun? This is […]

Pause for Pi Day

Celebrate Pi Day with the best pie at these bakeries in Ontario’s Highlands.

Best Pancake Breakfasts

Escape the city for a hearty meal with pure maple syrup at these top places for pancake breakfasts in Ontario’s Highlands.

Sweet Maple Escapes

Discover sweet places to stay for maple adventures in Ontario this spring.

Go Cross-Country

Glide over fresh snow on four cross-country ski trails near Ottawa.

Bask in Romance

Add a little romance at one of these nine intimate Ontario retreats.

Jigging Through Ice

You slip and slide your way across the ice, your arms laden with fishing gear, excitement building at the thought of the unscripted day ahead. Tucked amidst your gear is a warm blanket, a thermos of something rich and delicious, and a carefully packed cooler with goodies to keep you cozy all day. Ice fishing […]

New Year, New You!

Winter events across Ontario’s Highlands that will help you keep your New Year’s Resolutions.

Make a Toast (in Hastings County)

Tour craft drink producers for a chance to meet the makers, and get the inside story on what inspires them to make and sell their product. Oh, and sample delicious brews, too!

Ultimate Après-Ski Experiences

Meet up with friends after a day well spent on the slopes or on the trails. Discover these top places in Ontario’s Highlands to celebrate the Apres Ski!

Cheers to the Holidays

Get into the holiday spirit this month with these mixologists and craft drink producers in Ontario’s Highlands.

The Best Baked Goods

Discover some of the best bakeries in Ontario’s Highlands and their tasty treats.

Embrace the Dog Days of Winter

If you can’t beat winter, join it with an epic dog sledding excursion through some of the most beautiful forests in Ontario.

Shine at Giving this Holiday Season

Today’s craft markets are full of fresh, hip products made by creative and talented makers. This holiday season, go above and beyond by picking up handmade items with a story to tell at one of these Ontario holiday markets.

Discover Historic Accommodations in Ontario

Spend the night in historic accommodations to take yourself to way-back-when, and get into the spirit of the community you’re visiting. These inns have stories to tell of the people who lived and breathed inside their walls.

Expert Tips to Catching Fish

As an angler who is passionate about exploring new waters, I’m grateful to live in a region that has endless options! Whether you’re shore fishing, venturing out by boat, kayak, or canoe, there are bass fishing opportunities for everyone here in the Ontario’s Highlands region. I’ve put together a list of my five favourite bass […]

The Perfect Scoop

Discover these top ice cream stops across Ontario’s Highlands to keep cool this summer on your road trip.

Buffalo Thrills

Discover good food and great memories at the Ontario Water Buffalo Company.

Summer Music Festivals

From rock to folk, these Ontario’s Highlands summer music festivals will keep you coming back year after year.

Art in the Summer

Celebrate creativity at art festivals across Ontario’s Highlands this summer.

3 Cheers for Mom

Discover ways to give a mom a Mother’s Day to remember, with gift ideas that go above and beyond.

An Escape into Nature

Find your connection with nature and each other during a cabin getaway at Deacon Escarpment in Renfrew County.

A Winter’s Break

Sometimes what we need is a little technology detox to spend a little less time with the screens in our lives and a little more time with the people who matter most.

Valentine’s Day Treats

Treat that special someone this Valentine’s Day to a gift of sweets at one of these top places.

Winter? Bring it!

Discover your love for the season with a classic Ottawa Valley winter.

Where Am I?

Visit Winterdance in Ontario’s Highlands and discover a love of winter from some of its biggest fans.

Where Am I?

Discover Calabogie Peaks Resort, a well-known gem, through new eyes.

Concerts with a Community

In September each year, the spirit of community comes alive all across Ontario’s Highlands when the Festival of Small Halls rolls in.

Where Am I?

Stand tall and marvel at the views from the top of historical attraction, the Dorset Lookout Tower.

Where Am I?

Step back into nature at the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve to celebrate sustainability in this unique place.

The Memory Maker

I’m a Memory Maker. I wander to celebrate traditions with loved ones and create lasting memories. I enjoy visiting the same place, annual festival, or seasonal tradition year after year.

Where Am I

Explore the sweet moments and ageless beauty of Perth, Ontario.

Where Am I?

Mazinaw Rock, a hidden gem in Ontario that’s ironically, hard to miss.

Parks Worth the Admission

Visit these 8 Ontario Parks’ campgrounds in Ontario’s Highlands and discover why they are worth the admission.

Finding Imperfect Moments

Sometimes it is the imperfect moments that matter the most. Become inspired to roam without the burden of worrying about everything going according to plan.

A Different Kind of Detour

Take the road less traveled through Ontario’s Highlands to these unique festivals that are sure to leave a lasting impression.