5 things you may not know about the Festival of Small Halls (and why you should get your tickets fast!)

One-of-a-kind settings, stellar acoustics, world-class musicians, local history and a toe-tapping good time…here’s what you can expect from a Festival of Small Halls event!

If you’re into music, community and culture, I invite you to attend a Festival of Small Halls events this September! With a fantastic line-up of celebrated musicians ready to entertain you, combined with the one-of-a-kind settings in local small halls, a Festival of Small Halls event is guaranteed to get your toes tapping and whet your appetite for even more community inspired evenings.

I have to admit when I first heard about the Festival of Small Halls my first thought was what a fantastic idea for a festival (and why couldn’t I have thought of it first!) – a line-up of performances held not in your typical industrial settings, but tucked away in the small, intimate venues of the local community halls that dot the countryside in rural Ontario.

These are the kind of buildings that most of us drive past on a daily basis and never think twice about, but are something that inspired festival organizers to celebrate community while bringing world-class entertainment to unique settings in Ontario.

Now in its third year, the Festival has been hugely successful and received accolades from the local communities hosting the events, guests, and musicians.  This year’s line-up has been expanded to include 24 rural locales in Ontario, featuring national and international musicians including Breabach, Basia Bulat, Jim Bryson, Elliott BROOD, Hat Fitz and Cara, Tomato Tomato, April Verch, Darlingside, Harrow Fair, and more!

As an added bonus, local performers to each community will provide the opening act for the festival, and community events held concurrently with festival events adds yet another layer of homegrown entertainment and community spirit to the festival schedule.

So here’s the skinny on what to expect from a Festival of Small Halls event – but be warned – attending just one can create an addiction and inspire a long-term fascination with local halls and live musical performances!

  • One-of-a-kind settings

Almonte Old Town Hall, Pembroke Festival Hall, Spencerville Mill…these are just a few of the examples of the kind of quality venue you can expect when attending a Festival of Small Halls event.   The two dozen halls hosting the festival are not dilapidated old buildings tucked away in some rural corner, they’re carefully constructed and lovingly maintained icons found in small communities across the province.  They are social centres that have hosted everything from live animal auctions, to local agricultural fairs, church dinners, weddings, funerals, election polls, and more!  Expect to enter uniquely built buildings, some with a long history of more than a hundred years, bringing old-fashioned charm and a unique ambiance to the performance.

  • World-class musicians

The musicians performing for the Festival are well-known and respected, many of whom have traveled the world performing before coming to entertain small-town Ontario at the Festival of Small Halls. Prepare to be impressed by the diverse quality of talented performers on stage at a Small Halls event.  And with local acts opening the show you get the best of both worlds from a festival show!

Breabach (1).jpg
Breabach and the Lanark Fiddler’s Guild will be performing at Maberly Hall on September 18, 2016.
  • Unique acoustics

In many cases the venues for the Festival of Small Halls were built long before the advent of electric guitars and amplifiers, and were carefully constructed to take advantage of the natural acoustics created through clever design and furnishings.  So sit back and relax and enjoy a show with literally a one-of-a-kind sound that will make the performance extra special!

  • A step back in time

Steeped in local history, you’ll be impressed with the amount of history contained in these quiet, unassuming halls scattering the countrysides in rural Ontario.  For example, did you know that the McDonald’s Corners Agricultural Hall is celebrating its 125th birthday this year? Built in 1891, the agricultural hall has hosted its fair share of church suppers, concerts, and lectures, and also serves as the backdrop for semi-annual bird auctions and the McDonald’s Corners Agricultural Fair!  And did you know that the Spencerville Mill survived two devastating fires during its long history, and began as a flour and grist mill but was also a feed mill that produced Canada’s first commercial livestock feed? These are the kinds of fascinating histories you can expect to find in a small hall! Drama, intrigue, and a reflection of the background of the local community that created them, small halls are literally a slice of Ontario history bundled up in an irreplaceable community building.

  • An unforgettable party!

You haven’t experienced a real party until you’ve attended a small hall event, where locals and visitors alike get together to meet old and new friends, laugh, and (whenever possible) hit the dance floor!  I’ll see you there!






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