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 2016 season, with expectations for a repeat in 2017 (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 2018 are safely bought before they are no longer available.

The Festival of Small Halls is hosting performances in 2017 beginning Sept. 14 and ending Oct. 1, 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!

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Storyteller: Amy Hogue. Hometown: Lanark, ON

Amy is both a Memory Maker and Rustic Roamer (ambidextrous!), with a passion for discovering unspoiled locations and anything that will make her snort when laughing. She is always on the hunt for the perfect crème brulée, anything gluten-free, and a dedicated fryer. She is anyone’s ‘plus one’ for a canoe trip, loves to pedal, paddle or hike, but (fair warning) will need a snack (or two) during outdoor adventures. Her perfect day would involve a glass of wine, a patio with a sunbeam that’s just right, and a smutty romance novel (don’t judge).

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