Performers always crave an audience — even when traveling. Many convention and visitors bureaus track area venues that offer bands, choirs and dance troupes a stage — or a lobby or a courtyard — and can act as a resource for planners who are looking for ways to give their groups a little bit of the spotlight.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls frequently hosts performing groups: concert bands, jazz bands, marching bands, color guards, even dance troupes. The Niagara Parks Commission considers 20 or more people a group, and if they each buy a Niagara Parks Pass, they can perform for free. The pass includes four attractions: Hornblower Niagara Cruises, Journey Behind the Falls, White Water Walk and Niagara’s Fury.
“If you’re playing in the park, you get to play in the park,” said Sarah Wood, the park’s senior manager of events, programming and sponsorship development.
Niagara Falls has several stages and venues for various-size groups, and the Oakes Garden Theatre is the largest. With a sprawling lawn in front of a 28-foot circular stage — and the falls as a backdrop — there’s really no size limit for performing groups at the theater, which is available from mid-May through September.
The smallest is the 8-by-12-foot Grand View Stage, but, Wood said, “it’s busy and gives a lot of great exposure” because it’s attached to Hornblower Plaza, where the Hornblower boats dock, and is near the two-level outdoor Grand View Marketplace, which has retail shops and a restaurant.
The Illumination Tower Stage is adjacent to the American falls on the Canadian side, next to Queen Victoria Place, which has a family-style restaurant, a gift shop and plenty of crowds. The 16-by-24-foot stage is great for choral groups and bands and delivers “a lovely backdrop of both the falls,” Wood said. There’s also a large field in Queen Victoria Park that marching bands can use.
During the winter, the park uses Table Rock Grand Hall as an indoor performance venue. The hall is located inside Table Rock Welcome Center, and bands of up to 50 people or choirs of up to 100 can use the 12-by-21-foot area, which provides a panoramic view of the falls. Because the hall is so busy during the peak summer season, it’s simply too loud for performances, Wood said.