June 25-September 3. After a year without Tea ‘n’ Tales, the Guelph Guild of Storytellers and Guelph Enabling Garden are bringing it back with an online event called VirtualiTea ‘n’ Tales.

While performances may look different this year without the garden backdrop, residents will be able to enjoy the magic of storytelling.

“It’s going to be a chance for people who otherwise couldn’t make it, will be able to participate,” said Brian Holstein, a storyteller who organizes the lineup of performers for VirtualiTea ‘n’ Tales. “The storytelling is right there on their desk, it’s going to be accessible more people.”

Starting June 25, performances will be held online every Friday at 10:30 a.m. throughout the summer until September 3. Two storytellers will be featured during the hour-long event.

Trevor Barton is the chair and co-founder of the Guelph Enabling Garden. He mentions his organization is quite excited to be able to offer VirtualiTea ‘n’ Tales.

“Last year it was really, really missed,” said Barton. He said storytellers were doing online performances prior to this event to keep their skills sharp.

“Brian and I discussed it in February and a that point we were still in COVID, so we decided, let’s not put anyone at risk and go virtual.”

With outdoor gatherings still restricted to 10 people during the first step of the Reopening Ontario plan, Barton explains they didn’t think it would be feasible to host the event in-person.

“We get more than that,” he said.

Funding for the virtual event was made possible through the City of Guelph. The performances will be taking place across different time zones.

“We’ve got a pretty big bandwidth and we’re hoping to get over a hundred people,” said Barton, citing Zoom has made improvements in their video sharing platform in the past year.

Tea ‘n’ Tales started thirteen years ago with the first show only having eight or nine audience members, says Holstein. Prior to the pandemic, the festival can attract over 150 people.

“Especially when James Gordon is on the list,” said Holstein.

This year, Holstein and Gordon will be opening the festival. For that first performance, Holstein said he will be telling his version of the origin of stories, and what a storyteller is.

“I often say I don’t know my stories, because every time I tell a story, it’s a little bit different,” he said.

Along with James Gordon, 22 other storytellers will be performing at VirtualiTea ‘n’ Tales. The lineup includes local storytellers, along with storytellers from other communities, like Toronto, BC and Wisconsin. 

“We’ve got a lot of new story-tellers this year because of the magic of technology,” said Holstein about the lineup, which can be seen here.

“We had people who really wanted to tell who would normally not be around and wouldn’t be able to do it.”

With the lack of social events that happened last year, Holstein explains it was important to continue Tea ‘n’ Tales even if only virtually.

“It’s going to be different, but we look forward to the challenge of putting it together.”

While they are hoping to have the event back to the garden next year, Barton hopes people will still visit the garden over the summer.

“It’s a destination point, we want to remind people in these virtual sessions to come to the garden when they have the chance,” he said.

-From Guelph Today

See the schedule of Tellers here:


Residents can register for different performances online at the Guelph Guild of Storytellers website or the Guelph Enabling Garden’s website