Heads Up

The Weekender: Sword swallowers, speed demons, and five more intriguing weekend possibilities

MORRISBURG TUBIE FESTIVAL (FREE!)
In need of a good laugh? Get a bunch of friends together and build a raft, then head out to Morrisburg for the annual Tubie Festival. It’s a weekend of fun, but the real excitement starts at noon on Sunday, when participants meet at the Morrisburg Dock for a 1.5 mile sprint to the beach. Depending on the number of participants, there will be up to three heats; see the schedule at the Beer Garden. Yes, there’s a Beer Garden, which means if you get lazy or pop your raft en route to the event, you can always sit back and enjoy the spectacle from dry land, with beer in hand. July 31 and August 1, Morrisburg, www.morrisburglionsclub.ca

Photograph of Hélène Lefebvre performing "Mère Courage" in Gatineau, QC, by Jackson Couse, 2009.

BODIES IN TROUBLE (FREE!)
Photography that will make you pause. Big-time local and international photographers explore “the human flight to survive and the fight for freedom.” From photojournalism to performance art stills, the exhibit features work by Jana Sterbak, Yves Klein, and Ottawa’s own Jackson Couse. Poetic and subversive, many of these photos are showing in Canada for the first time. Best not to say too much more; go see for yourself the gut-wrenching, and at times hopeful effect of this collection. Runs to October 3. Pay what you can. SAW Gallery, 67 Nicholas St., www.galeriesawgallery.com

BLACKSMITH WORKSHOP
Ever wish you were born in another era? Love watching reruns Little House on the Prairie? Well, if you’re ready to get your hands dirty and sweat a bit over hot coal, then head to the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum for a hands on workshop in the art of blacksmithing. Stoke a fire, use traditional tools, and learn how they made horseshoes in the good old days. At the end of the day you’ll have your own ironwork creation. Ages 14 and up. July 31, 1 – 3 p.m. $5 (registration required). Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, 2940 Old Montreal Rd., Cumberland. 613-833-3059, www.ottawa.ca/museums

HOT WHEELS
Love the sound of gunning engines, the adrenalin of a tight race, and the crispy taste of concession stand fries? Then the Luskville Dragway is the place for you. Pretty impressive prize money — attracts dragsters and street racers from as far away as New Jersey. They come to test their wheels, they come to check out the competition, and they come to party. For the best bash this side of Charlotte, North Carolina, bring your tent or camper to the strip this long weekend for Bracket Bonanza, a weekend of races and revelry that sees $10,000 awarded each day. July 30 to August 1. $50 (includes camping and admission) or $15 (Friday), $30 (Saturday), $25 (Sunday) for the day. 819-455-9614. www.luskvilledragway.com

INTERNATIONAL BUSKERS FESTIVAL
Watch a sword-swallower in action without heading to Vegas as top performers descend on Sparks Street for this annual celebration of the wild and weird. Other acts on the bill include the 2008 World Yo-Yo Champion and a cabaret duo performing a blend of circus stunts, violin, and fire. Don’t try this at home kids. July 29 to Aug. 2. Pass-the-hat. Sparks Street, 613-230-0984. www.sparksstreetmall.com

THEY ALL DO IT
Odyssey Theatre returns for its 24th season of Theatre Under the Stars with a contemporary comedy inspired by a Mozart opera — a tale of young love made even more dramatic by the company’s signature masks, costumes, and extravagant set design. Just don’t forget the bug spray! July 29 to Aug. 29. Tuesday to Sunday evening $19-$24, Wednesday youth matinee $5, Sunday matinee pay-what-you-can. Strathcona Park, 613-232-8407. www.odysseytheatre.ca

RIDEAU CANAL FESTIVAL
You’ve run along it, skated on it, and canoed in it, so now it’s time to throw this manmade waterway a party. Grab the kids and head down to Dows Lake, Confederation Park, the Ottawa locks, or the canal to join in the festivities. The weekend is jam-packed with activities at each location, including a boat floatilla, a musical bike parade, and heritage tours, plus plenty of live entertainment. July 30 to Aug. 2. 613-288-0970. www.rideaucanalfestival.ca