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The May long weekend is often referred to as the "unofficial start of summer" and with parts of the country set to reach 25C, there is certainly a reason to celebrate.

Booze to barbecues: your ultimate long weekend guide

Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Saturday, May 21, 2016, 1:28 PM - The May long weekend is often referred to as the "unofficial start of summer" and with parts of the country set to reach 25C, there is certainly a reason to celebrate.

If you are heading to the cottage, a campsite or decide to stay closer to home, here's the ultimate guide to ensure you have the best Victoria Day weekend.

THE BIG REVEAL: Will a developing La Niña affect our summer as much as El Niño affected our winter? Tune in for the Summer Forecast on May 24 at 9pm EST and we'll help you plan your summer | SNEAK PEEK HERE

Fire up the barbecue and follow these tasty tips!

1. Clean and oil the BBQ

You should clean and oil your grill before and after every session. Burn off any crud and by using tongs, go over grill with a kitchen towel dipped in cooking oil. This prevents food from sticking to the bars.

2. Two cooking zones

Have one area over the flames for searing and another to the side of the heat source for indirect grilling. This method of cooking generates a more moderate temperature without burning your food.

3. Take your time

Keep the heat consistent, don't rush and be safe. Keep a spray bottle of water handy to douse flames if need be.

4. Marinating

The acid in a marinade helps to break down the meat. Let the meat marinade for a couple of hours before cooking. Know the difference between a marinade and a barbecue sauce. You finish with a barbecue sauce, because the sugars will burn if you add it too early. Meanwhile, a marinade consists of one part acid (vinegar or citrus juice) and one part oil (canola or olive oil) to infuse some flavour.

5. Invest in a thermometer

Overcooking is just as bad as undercooking when it comes to barbecuing. Cook to perfection and know the exact temperature of the meat by using a thermometer. For instance, pork should be cooked to 140 degrees F and taken off the grill to rest.

Watch the video below as food culturalist Rick Matharu shows you how to get the perfect grill marks.

Cheers to summer with these fancy cocktails

Sunny Sangria

Enjoy a delicious alcohol or zero per cent version of this summer classic.


1 lemon

1 orange

5 raspberries

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup (make by boiling 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water)

3 oz white cranberry juice

Directions (pitcher size)

  1. To a large pitcher, add one lemon and one small orange, both thinly sliced and a cup of raspberries.
  2. Stir to bruise the raspberries slightly and top with 1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3/4 cup simple syrup and 4 cups of white cranberry juice.
  3. Chill thoroughly for at least four hours to allow the flavours to steep and serve in a tall glass or large wine goblet over ice.
Check here for more summery cocktails

Crank up the tunes with this ultimate summer playlist

As part of The Weather Network's countdown to the summer forecast, we thought we would take a look at the top songs that best capture the feeling of summer in our All-Time Greatest Summer Songs list.

Think back to some of the greatest summers of your life. We bet you can name a song associated with that time. Whether it's days spend at the beach, late nights at the cottage with friends, or even a summer romance, when you hear a great summer song you should be able to feel the heat from the sidewalk, the sea breeze in your hair, or the sand between your toes.

Check out our list below and let the countdown begin.

Camping this weekend? Here are some hacks you should follow

Remember to check our cottage-country and campsite forecast locations for your destination.

Test equipment

If you purchase a new tent, practice putting it up at least once in your backyard. This will allow you to spot any problems or pieces missing.

Give yourself plenty of time

There is nothing worse than setting up your campsite in the dark. Research the site beforehand and plan to arrive during the day.

DO NOT store food and toiletries in the tent

Keeping food in the tent is a big no-no, as well as storing toiletries inside your sleeping area entices critters. Belongings like toothpaste and soap should be locked away in your car or a dry bag.

Pack items easily

Consider packing items like pancake mix or cracked eggs in resealable bags or water bottles so they are easy to transport and cook without making a mess.

Starting a campfire

There are three materials that make a great fire: tinder, kindling and fuel wood. Tinder catches fire easily. Materials like dry leaves, dry bark and wood shavings are great to use. You need more subtance to get the fire going and that's when kindling comes into play. Materials like small twigs and branches the width of a pencil are great for kindling. Finally, contrary to popular belief, fuel wood does not have to be big. If you go too big, it's going to take a long time to catch fire. Search for branches that are about as wide as your wrist or forearm. Don't use wet or green wood as this will only result in smoky fires.

Cooking tips

Cooking kebabs or corn on the cob? It's a good idea to soak the skewers first for about 20 minutes so they don't burn in the fire.

Sorting trash

Avoid burning plastic, polystyrene or other items that are likely to produce toxic gases.

RELATED: Here's why you need sunblock this long weekend

Image courtesy: Brenda Widdess -- Port Alberni, British Columbia

Boat safety

Officials will be keeping an eye on waterways as well.

There are approximately 166 boating related deaths in Canadian waters every year, almost all of which were senseless accidents that are easily preventable, the Canadian Red Cross reports. Additionally, alcohol is present or suspected in more than 50 per cent of boating fatalities.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the water is still extremely cold at this time of year. Warmer temperatures doesn't necessarily mean warm water and it doesn't take long for hypothermia to set in.

Hypothermia can set in within minutes and if your body temperature drops by five degrees, you will go unconscious and without a life jacket you're going to sink like a rock, officials warn. Unfortunately, less than 50 per cent of Canadians who own a boat always wear their life jackets, although 82 per cent believe it is a legal requirement, according to the Red Cross.

The Toronto Marine Unit offers these other boat safety tips:

  • Wear a properly fitted life jacket at all times.
  • Make sure everyone on board knows safety protocols.
  • Have a good fire extinguisher.
  • Don't operate the watercraft with alcohol, leave it onshore.
  • Check the weather before you go and continue to monitor while you're on the water. 
  • Always be prepared and pack a first aid kit and extra food in case you get stranded. 

If you operate a powered vessel, you do need a pleasure craft operator card. If you're caught without the card, it's a minimum $250 fine.

Setting off fireworks safely

Weather permitting, this will be a busy weekend for fireworks across Canada.

In addition to paying attention to city by-laws and firebans, people should also pay close attention to the weather conditions.

Mark Fine is with Air Magic in Toronto, and he says the forecast is important when it comes to fireworks.

“[They] can be shot when it's cloudy, or cool, or cold, or if there's even a little bit of drizzle in the air. But if the winds are high it will take the projectiles and take them to places we don't want them to go and possibly take burning material somewhere it shouldn't be,” Fine explains.

You should also ensure that conditions are not too dry in your area, as fireworks could spark wildfires.

Image courtesy: Andris Batraks -- Mississauga, Ontario

Here are some tips offered by the National Council on Fireworks Safety to keep you and your family safe:

  • Purchase your fireworks from a reliable source and keep away from illegal explosives.
  • Choose a clear, open area to light them.
  • Always follow the label directions.
  • Fireworks are meant for outdoor environments only.
  • Always have water handy when lighting fireworks (ie: a garden hose). You can also use sand in a bucket if need be to put them out.
  • Never make your own fireworks.
  • Only light one at a time.
  • Never attempt to re-light fireworks that have misfired (duds).
  • Wait 30 minutes and then place them in a bucket of water.
  • Never throw/point fireworks at other people.
  • Don't carry sparklers in your pocket.
  • The shooter should always wear protective eye glasses or protection for their hands.

Watch more: 5 tips on how to protect your dog from the dangers of summer

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