Frequently Asked Questions

& Port Theatre Insider Tips

Here are some of our most frequently asked questions along with our insider tips!

PLANNING AHEAD

How long is the show? When will the show end?

Shows vary in length, but typically a show is approximately 2 hours with a 20-minute intermission, although there is a trend in some genres towards an 80-90 minute immersive performance with no break. Most Port Theatre shows have a 7:30pm start time. Please contact the Ticket Centre to confirm specific details.

How many shows are there each year?

We host over 250 events a year. From symphony and dance to rock, pop and comedy—that’s a lot of variety! Approximately 60% of our activities are local community events.

What’s a Spotlight show?

The Port Theatre presents 16-20 shows each year as part of our nationally-acclaimed Spotlight Series. We bring some of the most unique and exciting touring artists available to Nanaimo, every one of them showcasing artistic excellence and innovation. At the heart of the Spotlight Series is a passion to create access to diverse and authentic experiences for our audiences. As a non-profit society, we receive funding in order to introduce the mid-island region to high-quality performances at an affordable price that otherwise would not be showcased here.

There are so many shows, how do I choose?

There are indeed many shows, which is both exciting and sometimes overwhelming. The good news is that each year, there are many opportunities to enjoy a variety of performances. Some people know exactly what they like and choose their known favourites.
TIP: We recommend stepping outside your comfort zone and experiencing at least one show each year that’s new and different to you.

How do I find out about all the shows? I missed my chance to see my favourite artist!

  1. To find out about every show, join our email list. Sign up on our homepage.
  2. Pick up our Spotlight brochure and calendar of events.
  3. You may also want to like and follow our Facebook page.

PARKING

Where should I park?

There are lots of places to park in downtown Nanaimo. Street parking is free after 5pm. Plus, there are three parkades (Harbour Front, Vancouver Island Conference Centre and Bastion Street).
TIP: The Bastion Street Parkade is free after 5pm and free on weekends. Get more parking info here.

How much parking do I need to pay for?

We suggest paying for 3 hours of parking. After 5pm, the cost is only $1.75 in the parkade next to the theatre (Harbour Front Parkade).

If I want to visit the Ticket Centre, where can I park?

There is free 15-minute parking right in front of the Ticket Centre, so you can come in and pick up your tickets and talk to our friendly Ticket Centre staff.

BUYING TICKETS

Where should I sit? How do I get the best seats?

Everyone has a different opinion on what’s considered ‘the best’ seat, based on needs and preferences.  It also depends on the performance. However, we’re proud that every seat in the Port Theatre has great sightlines and excellent acoustics.
TIP: Call our Ticket Centre 250-754-8550 to get their advice. Or take a look at our seating chart.

What if I have difficulty with stairs?

The Port Theatre does have an elevator, but we recommend calling the Ticket Centre before purchasing a ticket to discuss the best options available as many seats require some stairs. If you’ve already bought a ticket, you may still call the Ticket Centre or speak with Front of House staff. We want everyone to be as comfortable as possible.

How far is the back of the main floor from the stage?

It’s approximately 65’ from the front of the stage to the back wall on the main floor. The balcony overhangs the main floor at approximately row R or row S.

How do I get my tickets?

We can mail your tickets. Or you can pick them up in person during Ticket Centre hours. Plus, the Ticket Centre is always open 2 hours before show time.

When do I pick up my tickets?

You can pick them up any time after you order them. If you wait until the show day, we suggest arriving at the Ticket Centre 15 minutes before show time.

Why do I have to pay an order fee to purchase tickets?

We’re a non-profit society and require the order fee to operate the Ticket Centre. At other venues, the fee can be much higher with no maximum.

Are you a Ticketmaster outlet?

No, there is no Ticketmaster outlet on Vancouver Island and we’re proud to operate an independent, local ticket centre.

How do I get discounts on shows?

TIP #1: Become a member! Find out about our yearly membership to receive discounts on all Spotlight shows as well as early purchase privileges on many of the touring acts.

TIP #2: With Spotlight Plus, enjoy up to 25% off regular or member-priced tickets when purchasing multiple Spotlight Series mainstage performances.

TIP #3: Join our free email list. You’ll find out about special promotions throughout the year. Sign up on our homepage.

TIP #4: We often have student/youth prices. Ask the Ticket Centre or look at the event page before buying your ticket!

AT THE THEATRE

What do you sell at the theatre?

We have two lobby bars where we sell V.Q.A. BC wines; international and feature wines; domestic and imported beer; juice; water as well as snacks (chocolate bars, ice cream, candies and granola bars). We also sell refillable Port Theatre water bottles and artful, reusable shopping bags.
TIP #1: We have free, reverse osmosis filtered water.
TIP #2: You can order your drink before the show and it’ll be ready for you at intermission, so you can skip the line!

Can I stand and dance at the concert?

We want everyone to have a great time. The Port Theatre staff work with promoters, artists and security to ensure everyone in the venue is safe. Dancing may be permitted for some shows, at your seat, and as long as you’re not in the aisles and you’re not disrupting patrons around you. At the Port Theatre, every show is unique and in some cases dancing may block sightlines for others. If you have questions, talk to our ushers who are trained to deal with situations on a case-by-case basis.

Can I take my drink in the theatre?

You can’t take any glass into the theatre. However, you may take in water if it’s in a plastic or reusable container.

Why do I need cash for merchandise (CDs, t-shirts, etc.)?

It depends on the show. Some of our artists require cash, while others do accept credit cards. There’s an ATM in the lobby if you need cash.

Where can I go for help?

Visit our Audience Service Desk, located in the centre of the main lobby. Our friendly volunteers will assist you with coat check, snacks, refreshments, booster seats, hearing assistance devices and complimentary wheelchairs. Audience Services also houses a first aid station and our lost-and-found centre. Please contact our Front of House Manager on the night of your show if we can help you in any way

Can I bring my baby?

Babes-in-arms are not permitted for certain performances. Please check with the Ticket Centre regarding specific event restrictions.

Can my child sit on my lap?

Your child needs a ticket and their own seat.
TIP: You can ask an usher for a booster seat.

What’s your ‘no scent’ policy?

Some patrons have serious allergies to strong fragrances. In consideration for those seated around you, please refrain from wearing perfume, aftershave or other scented products. If you do have a strong scent, you may be asked to re-locate in order to accommodate those with sensitivities.

What if I have special needs?

We are committed to increasing access to live theatre for all audiences. Services available providing support for patrons include: hearing assistance devices, bariatric chairs, complimentary in-house wheelchairs and over 28 wheelchair accessible seating options. Patrons requiring the use of these services are asked to inform the Ticket Centre at the time of purchasing a ticket.

Do you offer hearing assistance devices?

Yes, you can request a hearing device at the Audience Services Desk located in the centre of the lobby. They are easy to use and very comfortable. They use an FM band transmitter and supply quality audio in all seats. Some of the units will accept a T coil. We ask that you leave some form of identification in exchange for the device (e.g., Driver’s Licence).
TIP: You can order a hearing device ahead of time by calling the Ticket Centre.

VOLUNTEERING

How can I volunteer at the Port Theatre?

As a non-profit society, we rely on over 150 dedicated volunteers who donate thousands of hours. Visit the Port Theatre during administrative hours and ask for a volunteer application form. You can also talk to our Senior House Manager who interviews and manages our volunteers.