Come Wander
Ban playing in a bar

It’s the dead of winter and you’ve been cold for so long that you can’t actually remember what it feels like to not be cold. Chances are the last thing you want to do on a frigid Saturday evening is head out in the dark, cold night, am I right? Wrong!

It may be natural to want to stay warm inside, but what if an experience were waiting for you that would check all your “fun” boxes? Something that made you wonder why you’ve never done this before, or waited so long to do it again?

Good food? Check. Warm and cozy? Check. Filled with laughter and old (or new) friends? Check. Live music that you can feel through the floorboards? Check-check-check.

The question is where can you find something that has it all – good food, warmth, ambiance, and live music? I recently had a chance to go out for dinner and a show at a local venue, The Crossing Pub at the Sharbot Lake Country Inn, and was blown away by the experience from the first taste of the appetizers until the final notes of music faded away.

Colourful wall of art

The evening started in the right direction as soon as we walked through the door – there’s something about emerging from the frosty outdoors into a warm, cozy room that is so satisfying. The muted sound of laughter created its own melody, especially when accompanied by the faint notes of clinking glasses and cutlery.

My husband and I settled into our seats at a table for six, which was our first hint that something was different here. Turns out dinner and a show in Sharbot Lake isn’t meant to be a solitary experience, it’s a communal event!

Plate of food at a pub

Our first reaction to sharing the experience may have been a hesitant “huh” but after only a few minutes chatting with our new table-mates, we quickly saw the fun in getting to meet new people for a completely new experience. Nothing brings on instant friendship more quickly than breaking bread, and by the end of the meal we were fast friends, clapping our hands and stamping our feet along with the rest of the room.

Chalkboard art

A few hours later and we were sold – and already looking at when we could come back again for an encore. Here are five reasons why dinner and a show should be on your to-do list for a fantastic cold-weather experience:

  1. Dinner and a show isn’t an ordinary evening out
    What do you normally do on the weekend? Netflix? Fold your laundry? Mix it up with something different, something where the event is the experience, and it’s not one you can get just anywhere.
  2. You’ll meet new friends (or enjoy spending time with old ones)
    Of course, not all venues will offer communal seating, but at The Crossing Pub this was the case, and here’s the thing: Breaking bread and listening to music brings people together. Honest. Even though at first you might think that you would rather not chat with strangers, once you’re seated and warm, you’ll start chatting and find out how much you have in common, and by the time the lights come up at the end of the show you’ll be old friends.
  3. Your food will taste better
    Seriously, this is no joke. Did you know your eating pace and digestion can be impacted by the type of music you’re listening to? Studies have shown that music can actually make your food taste better. Plus, who wouldn’t enjoy relaxing with a glass of wine and a scrumptious dessert while being entertained by live performers? Sit back and chill, and let your digestion (and taste buds) be inspired by the soundscape.
  4. You’ll discover new musical talent
    Expose yourself to something besides the top 40 hits; check out the musical talent of local and regional musicians and see what’s been hiding in your backyard all these years. Seeing a local band perform in a small, intimate venue, can be a totally different experience than what you’re used to. Watch as guests greet the band like old friends – because they very well may be. Country, classical, bluegrass, folk – you never know how the experience will change your musical perspective. Expand your horizons, try something new, and live a little!
  5. No more same-old, same-old
    New talent, new venues, new dinner partners – dinner and a show can make the old seem new again. I’ll admit that it’s been ages since we’ve had an evening out that was quite so fun, it’s easy to get into a rut in the winter months. Thankfully, it’s just as easy to break out again by getting tickets to the next show in a few weeks.

Are you convinced and wondering where you can find a venue that has good food and good music? Fortunately, in addition to the incredible performances at The Crossing Pub, Ontario’s Highlands has more than its fair share of other fantastic venues with local and travelling talent. Here’s a list of where you can find a one-of-a-kind experience that will warm up your winter (or summer, too!).

  • Neat Coffee Shop – Feel at home in this Burnstown favourite as the intimate space fills with the sounds of musical talent, laughter during a comedy show, or thought-provoking script during a speaker series.
  • Dominion Hotel & Pub – Discover why this Minden pub has earned a reputation of being the hub for live entertainment as you spend an evening marvelling at live music, theatre, poetry and more.
  • Wilno Tavern – Indulge in hearty fare in Wilno and sway to the sounds of the Tuesday Nite Blues Jam or kick up your heels during the monthly Country Music House Party.
  • O’Reilly’s Ale House – Enjoy a pint of craft beer, a delicious locally-sourced meal, and the variety of live music that fills this gem in the heritage town of Perth each weekend.

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