TIFF SPECIAL: Top parties & hot spots

The Drake Hotel, a perennial TIFF hot spot. Story by Caitlin Agnew. Photograph by George Whiteside.

Acclaimed cinema aside, every Torontonian worth their fleur de sel knows that the Toronto International Film Festival is all about the parties—11 nights of parties, to be exact. In that spirit, we’ve compiled a list of the top spots to get up-close-and-personal with the stars, exchange festival gossip, or simply being seen (paparazzi not included). Get your beauty rest now—starting next week, you’ll be living in a city that doesn’t sleep.

Open Call at the Drake Hotel, September 9 — 18
1150 Queen St. W., thedrakehotel.ca, 416-531-5042
THE CROWD: Fun-loving scenesters
THE DRINK: Margot Tenenbaum Cocktail
OVERHEARD: “So who’s hotter: Natalie Portman or Mila Kunis?”
For the seventh consecutive year, the Drake plays host to some of TIFF’s hippest parties, guaranteed to be a hit any night of the festival. Don’t forget to stop by the Drake General Store to pick up a TIFF gift bag complete with Moleskine film journal and paparazzi figures.

Festival Opening Party at 99 Sudbury, September 8
99 Sudbury St., 99sudbury.ca, 416-849-6567
THE CROWD: Toronto’s young and eligible
THE DRINK: Champagne
OVERHEARD: “Lanvin for H&M!”
Tucked away between King and Queen, 99 Sudbury always draws a stylish crowd. For the TIFF kick-off, DJ Vaneska and DJ Oliver are on the tables, while The Row and Opening Ceremony are sure to be on the dancefloor .

TORO After Dark at PEARS on the Avenue, September 9 – 12
164 Avenue Rd., toromagazine.com
THE CROWD: VIP industry insiders
THE DRINK: Stella Artois
OVERHEARD: “Such a great film. Who was the DP again?”
The former Porsche dealership, soon-to-be It condo building and current hot pop-up location, PEARS on the Avenue is playing host to TORO’s After Dark parties. Check out RED, a preview of the NY Times Canadian Photo Archive Exhibit curated by Caitlin Cronenberg. Other highlights? The Acura VIP car service and 4 a.m last call.

Bell Lightbox Opening, September 12
330 King St, W., tiff.net/tiffbelllightbox
THE CROWD: Families, tourists, and media-types
THE DRINK: Bottled water
OVERHEARD: “I can’t wait to get into my suite in the Festival Tower. I’ve got the best decorator—it’s going to be just fabulous.”
For the official unveiling of the Bell Lightbox, TIFF is throwing an old-school block party complete with performances by The Sadies, Fefe Dobson, and a “surprise appearance” by a Canadian star.

The Bell Lightbox.

Vanity Fair, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Belvedere Vodka TIFF Soirée
The Thompson Hotel, 550 Wellington St., thompsonhotels.com
THE CROWD: Media elite, cast, and filmmakers
THE DRINK: Lychee martini
OVERHEARD: “Toronto’s such a fun place to visit. So low-key compared with L.A.”
With the cast and filmmakers of 127 Hours, Black Swan, Conviction, and Never Let Me Go expected to be in attendance, this is set to be one of the biggest fêtes of the festival. Known as “the Vanity Fair party,” it’s yet another event marking the TIFF shift from Yorkville to King West.

Playboy’s Good Life Party at Muzik, September 10
15 Saskatchewan Rd., playboygoodlifetour.com, 416-595-9998
THE CROWD: Richmond Street regulars
THE DRINK: Stoli Vodka Bottle Service
OVERHEARD: “Real or fake?”
Hosted by superstar Playmate Bridget Marquardt and featuring performances by Outkast’s Big Boi, flame throwers, and belly dancers (to name a few), this party is sure to be a lesson in decadence and debauchery.

Be a classy bunny with this headband created by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton.

InStyle Party at Ame
19 Mercer St., amecuisine.com, 419-599-7246
THE CROWD: Fashionistas and their Bay Street beaus
OVERHEARD:  “Those squats are really paying off, your legs look great!”
Girls in body-con dresses nibbling on sushi while their boyfriends drink Asah. Plus a red carpet.

ET Canada Festival Central, September 12 — 14
148 Cumberland St., globaltv.com/etcanada/
THE CROWD: Post-gala premiere moviegoers
THE DRINK: Lulu B Pinot Noir
OVERHEARD: “There’s will.i.am! Let’s hope Perez Hilton doesn’t show up.”
Canada’s top entertainment show will be headquartered in Yorkville throughout the festival.  Check out a performance by will.i.am, catch the Spotlight Awards, or simply bask in the post-premiere excitement.

ONE Restaurant at the Hazelton Hotel
118 Yorkville Ave., thehazeltonhotel.com, 416-963-6300
THE CROWD: Socialites and star-gazers
THE DRINK: White wine spritzer
OVERHEARD: “I don’t care what People says, George Clooney will always be the sexiest man alive.”
Yorkville’s patio of choice is sure to be jam-packed. Reservations are highly recommended, unless you’re pure A-list.

The bar at ONE.

Hello! Canada Party at the Royal Conservatory of Music
273 Bloor St. W., rcmusic.ca, 416-408-2825.
THE CROWD: People who would be featured in Hello! magazine
THE DRINK: San Pellegrino with lime
OVERHEARD: “Is that James Franco?”
Make sure you’re red carpet-ready—there will definitely be a photo-op or two.

The Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt
4 Avenue Rd., parktoronto.hyatt.com, 416-925-1234
THE CROWD: Seasoned TIFF-goers
THE DRINK: Park Cosmopolitan
OVERHEARD: “Mordecai would have loved that movie.”
A Yorkville classic with a great view, drinks at the Roof Lounge is as TIFF as it gets and everyone knows it. Be prepared to deal with crowds.

Edelman TIFF Media Room
150 Bloor St. W.
THE CROWD: Exhausted journalists
THE DRINK: Double espresso
OVERHEARD: “Ugh, that Ben Affleck is such a bore.”
We all need a break to re-charge—especially our BlackBerries. Media insiders will be here throughout the week, refueling before another foray into the TIFF jungle.

Stay tuned for more film festival (and party!) coverage, and check out torontoist.com/tiff, a mega hub of all things TIFF: films, parties, personalities…

2 thoughts on “TIFF SPECIAL: Top parties & hot spots

  1. I just got wind that there is a super secret Absolut party happening tomorrow night where all of the celebrities are going to be and it’s on the roof of a building! How can someone get into that? Insane.

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