What to do After Dark in The County 🔦
During the day, there is absolutely no shortage of incredible adventures to be had here in Prince Edward County. In fact, you can spend days here, even weeks, and never run out of exciting things to see or do. But The County doesn’t just turn off the lights when the sun goes down – quite the contrary. We simply switch gears and entertain with music, theatre, movies, comedy and – of course – our dark, inky skies.
Here are some of the many events, performances and experiences that are on offer in the evenings in The County.
by Susan Smythe-Bishop
If music is your jam, there are ample opportunities to experience a number of world-class musicians here, some that unite with exceptional local talent.
One of the most iconic entertainment venues in The County, The Hayloft Dancehall has been a favourite of locals for years. Returning favourites such as Hot Wax Meltdown make regular appearances and other cool bands like 54-40 and Skydiggers, unique artists such as Keifer Sutherland, and even Choir!Choir!Choir! have graced their stage along with a number of fantastic local artists. Ticket prices include a ride on a shuttle to get you to the show and back again.
The County is home to a number of incredibly talented artists, and every Tuesday, the Drake Devonshire presents an opportunity for this brilliant local bunch to really strut their stuff as part of Memphis Tuesdays open mic night. Whether it’s music, performance or spoken word – we have seen some incredible talent here! If you are daring enough to get up to perform yourself, you’re welcome. Or you can just sit back and bear witness to some really exceptional homegrown talent – you never know who’ll show up!
Experience “The County Weekend” at The Back Room, behind the Yum Club on Picton’s Main Street, by dropping in on a Tuesday or Wednesday night and rubbing shoulders with local residents on break from their usual jobs. Newly opened in 2020, The Back Room has diverse programming, from dancing to jazz to blues, plus a menu of cocktails, mocktails, pints and elevated bar snacks. In a town that typically quietens down around 10 p.m., they’re open also open late!
The stunning and historically significant Regent Theatre is the beating heart of the Picton community. It hosts concerts, speaking engagements, plays, comedy shows and screenings. There is almost always something interesting or entertaining happening at The Regent Theatre, so be sure to visit their website to go over their schedule. The theatre beams in special performances, offers art and documentary films on alternating Mondays and has a monthly free screening for families, courtesy of Whattam’s Funeral Home.
The County Canteen is SUCH a fun and spirited place. They are a huge supporter of local food producers, wineries and breweries, and they go the extra mile to make sure there is something fun on tap, whether it’s karaoke, trivia nights or live music.
Not only does The Acoustic Grill serve up one of The County’s best burgers, they’ve also been drawing exceptional artists and enthusiastic audiences to their restaurant/venue for years. While the food is solid and there is always a great vibe, the place really comes alive in the evenings when both the burgers and the music rock the house!
For as long as I can remember, The Barley Room Gastro Pub at the Waring House resort has always been a warm and welcoming pub. Standing proudly in the heart of The County right at the roundabout between Picton and Bloomfield, it’s a classic atmosphere serving up traditional pub food as well as bistro-style fare. In true pub fashion, they host a number of fun events and concerts during the colder months, including dart nights on Mondays and Trivial Pursuit night on Tuesdays. The first and third Wednesday of each month features a traditional down east open mic night – referred to as a “Kitchen Party” – hosted by local folk favourites The Frère Brothers.
I LOVE improv. I also love sketch comedy and classic stand-up too. Who DOESN’T love that intoxicating feeling of a tear-inducing laugh?! Comedy Country is helping to spread a lot of laughter and cheer by bringing in some hilarious talent from across Canada.
Award-winning artists/troupes who’ve appeared as part of the Comedy Country lineup have included Tall Boyz II Men, Success 5000, The Lusty Mannequins, Steve Patterson, Soul Decision, Women Fully Clothed and much more.
Comedy Country is also cultivating a local group of artists known Taste That! They have regular events throughout the year, always playing off some local news, gossip or personalities.
When the sun goes down in The Country, it certainly doesn’t mean kids are ready to hit the hay! In fact, in the summer months, one of the most fun things you can do after dark is load the family into the car and head to the iconic Mustang Drive-In, one of a few remaining drive-ins in Ontario. It is awesome fun for the entire family, with an amazingly retro snack bar, and plays the hottest first-run Hollywood blockbusters.
Shatterbox Theatre features new and emerging talent, in unexpected productions | Photo Courtesy: Shatterbox Theatre
As the sun sets, the curtain rises for theatre groups in The County. Festival Players of Prince Edward County, the region’s professional theatre company, offers a summer season of concerts, cabaret and contemporary theatre, under the direction of Stratford Festival actor Graham Abbey.
Shatterbox is a relatively new theatre group founded by two local women, Samantha Branderhorst and Georgia Papanicolaou, who were searching for ways to push their own theatrical boundaries while at the same time building a love of theater in the younger generations, offering unexpected programming usually featuring new or emerging talent. Their shows take place a few times a year at the Regent Theatre.
The Marysburgh Mummers Community Theatre Group often picks popular productions and their casts are entirely local. Part of the appeal is their event space: the Mount Tabor Playhouse is a converted church that guarantees an intimate setting, even for patrons with balcony seating.
It can get gloriously dark around here. Without the glare of big city lights, all it takes is a simple glance upwards to be overcome by the astonishing power of thousands of glittering stars shining brilliantly from above. There are some nights when the moon shines so brightly that it completely bathes the landscape in a magical bluish haze.
Get a close-up view with the Look Up Way Up Observatory, which offers hours of star gazing in through an Orion XT 10 Plus Newtonian Light Bucket and a Celestron SE with a 2-meter focal length. Learn more about the Milky Way and even take photos of the moon with your smartphone.
And then, there are those nights where more than anything else, all you want to do is just sit with a glass of wine (from one of the local wineries of course!) and just stare at the sky because it is ever changing and it is always beautiful. Sometimes, simply taking in one of good ol’ Mother Nature’s shows can the perfect way to close the day.
No matter how you choose to spend your evenings here, chances are pretty good that you will leave here with lasting memories of wonderfully unique, inspiring and perhaps somewhat magical experiences of your own.
Content updated January 2020