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before you arrive

Have questions? We have answers!

Here are some of the topics we are frequently asked about by first time attendees.


Come as you are! We want our audience to enjoy the performance in complete comfort, whether that means a dress, a suit, or jeans is entirely up to you.

Concert Etiquette

Clapping: Clapping at a classical music concert can be confusing for a newcomer. To respect the focus of our performers, applause typically takes place at the end of an entire piece. With multiple movements to some works, we know this can be tricky. When in doubt, wait for others to clap and join in!

Coughing: If you get a tickle in your throat, try to quietly take care of it during a loud section of music. However, if your cough is a symphony unto itself, it would be polite to quietly exit the hall to get it out of your system. You will be welcomed back to your seat at a suitable break in the performance by the ushers.

Photography: We love to see guest concert selfies on Instagram and Facebook! Capture and share your photos and videos to your hearts delight before the show starts and during intermission. However, during the performance please put your device away out of respect for the musicians and concertgoers. Simply enjoy the show!

Cell Phones: We appreciate that we live in a very connected world. Text away or scroll through our concert details page{link to concert page) to learn more about what you’re about to see and hear before the show starts. Once the show starts, we ask that you kindly turn off your phone and let the music on stage be all anyone hears.

Arrival Time

We recommend arriving 45 minutes prior to the concert start time. This gives you plenty of time to find parking, enjoy refreshments, get comfortable in your seat and read up on what you will be experiencing. Come even earlier during select concerts and enjoy in-depth chats with NSO Music Director & Maestro, Bradley Thachuk, and featured guest artists. These opportunities to garner further insight into the music being presented are listed on the concert details page and usually take place 45 minutes prior to the start of the performance.

Late Entry/Re-Entry

You may arrive late or need to leave during the performance – life happens! To minimize distractions to our performers or audience members, anyone entering the hall during a performance will be asked to wait in the back of the theatre until an usher can seat you during a suitable break in the music.


Drinks are available at the FirstOntario PAC lobby bar before the show and during intermission. Currently, patrons are only permitted to drink while seated and masks must be worn at all times when not drinking. Please see the PAC’s Covid-19 policy here: https://firstontariopac.ca/online/Article/EventArticle-COVID19


The PAC is a fully accessible building with elevators and accessible washrooms on each level. For those who have seats in the front rows of Partridge Hall, please note that there is an elevator located inside the hall to provide access if needed. Hearing-assistance devices are available at the theatre upon request. Please contact the PAC box office for further inquiries about accessibility.


Most performances include a 20-minute intermission. Take a concert selfie (don’t forget to tag us) and mingle safely with your friends. Keep your ears open as we will warn you when intermission is about to end.


While it can vary, typical NSO performances last two hours including a 20-minute intermission. The length of each piece is detailed in both the concert program and concert listings page on our website. Each concert page online features a Spotify playlist to give you an idea of what you can expect to hear.

Scent Policy

The PAC is a fragrance-free zone. To ensure the full enjoyment of our concert experience for all audience members, please refrain from wearing strong fragrances at the theatre.

Last Minute Changes

Sometimes we overbook ourselves or things pop up at the last minute. If you can’t make a concert that you’ve bought tickets for, the NSO has your back. You can easily switch your tickets to another concert (a small service fee will apply) or you can donate your tickets back to the NSO to receive a charitable tax receipt. Please note that the box office will be unable to serve exchanges within 30 minutes of the concert start time.

Parking and Drop-off

The City of St. Catharines multi-level covered Garden Park/Carlisle Street parking garage is the primary parking facility for all NSO concerts ($5 event parking). For pick up and drop off only please use the accessible drop-off points located on Carlisle Street for Partridge Hall or St. Paul Street for the box office and all theatres.


Children aged 5 and up are welcome at any NSO concert, but we do recommend that children be at least 10 years old in order to fully enjoy the concert experience. Both the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and the NSO have a no-babe-in-arms policy. Please contact the box office for further information.