Come Wander
Festival of Small Halls

It’s that time of the year again: the time when I start thinking about getting my tickets to a Festival of Small Halls performance, followed by panic when I realize they are almost sold out, and then finally relief when I find a show I’m dying to see and see there are still a few tickets left.

I think I’m justified in a little panic at the thought of missing out on the Small Hall fun. The Festival of Small Halls is turning the music scene on its ear, and accomplishing big things in the bargain. Things like fostering community. Supporting social networking. Encouraging an appreciation of the arts. Getting people out and dancing and engaging and talking and…well, you get the picture.

Let’s put it this way: I love music, but the thought of getting dressed up and schlepping to some overcrowded stadium where I’m surrounded by thousands of people, doesn’t really appeal to me. But the Festival of Small Halls does.

And it’s not just me. Since its introduction four years ago, the Festival of Small Halls Ontario has grown and grown and grown, adding new halls, new activities, and selling out for almost every performance in its 2017 season, with expectations for a repeat in 2018 (Click here to see which shows still have tickets left!).

This year will be my second year attending a Small Halls event, and I’m pumped for a repeat of the fantastic experience I had last year, when I was lucky enough to attend a Small Halls performance in Mcdonald’s Corners. In a word, the show was phenomenal.

My husband and I were a little late arriving to the McDonald’s Corners show, and when we finally pulled up in front of the hall just past dusk, the parking lot was full, and the lights were blazing from the inside, where the sounds of music, laughter and clapping came spilling out to greet us.

And when we stepped inside, it was like stepping into a warm, community hug. Picture a community hall filled with people sitting shoulder to shoulder, clapping and tapping and singing along with the musicians on stage, almost close enough to touch. The dance floor was shaking, the musicians were playing their hearts out, and people who may not have known each other before entering the hall were chatting away and laughing like old friends. It was magical.

It was an unbelievably awesome experience, and as soon as I stepped into the room I had my a-ha! moment, where I knew exactly what all the hype was about with this rapidly growing festival.

So here’s my advice for maximizing your experience this year:

  1. Expect to get sweaty – dance your heart out, clap your hands, stamp your feet and get into the action, there’s nothing that will enhance your experience more than launching yourself into it with both feet.
  2. Embrace the opportunity to meet new people – naturally, when you’re dancing shoulder to shoulder with people you tend to make friends fast!
  3. Participate in the pre-show community event – if there’s a community dinner ahead of the performance, or some other community event, take part in that as well! You’ll make friends and feel far more comfortable before you even get to the performance part of the evening.
  4. Wear layers – that way you can remove some if it gets too warm inside, and still be comfortable. You can also wear your dancing shoes.
  5. Get your tickets early – almost every show in the Ontario Festival of Small Halls line-up sold out last year, which means you need to be quick on the draw or you’ll miss out! Check out which shows have tickets left this year, here and set a reminder in your calendar to check the website during the spring and summer to make sure your tickets for 2019 are safely bought before they are no longer available.

The Festival of Small Halls is hosting performances in 2018 beginning Sept. 13 and ending Sept. 30, with many performances already sold out only weeks into ticket sales. Check the schedule to see what shows are still available, and take a look at the community events offered at some small halls prior to the show.

You can purchase a ticket to the show and an old-fashioned community dinner before the music starts, to really get you into the small hall swing before the show. Go for the show, go for dinner, or go for both!

I’ll see you there!


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.

Unique Festivals & Events

Embrace the incredible spirit and wonderfully ‘different’ themes at events 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.

Pause for Pi Day

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

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.

New Year, New You

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

Hit the Slopes This Winter

Discover the ski and snowboard hills in Ontario’s Highlands that both beginners and pros will appreciate.

Winter? Bring it!

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

The Best Baked Goods

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

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.

Alight in the Night

Discover the best Christmas lights and celebrations across Ontario’s Highlands that make this season the most wonderful.

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.

Autumn Jubilee

Celebrate fall with these can’t-miss festivals and events in Ontario’s Highlands.

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.

Where Am I?

Make memories as you discover one of the Province’s most intimate hidden gems, The Haliburton Forest Festival.

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.