12 bars to check out near must-see Nuit Blanche installations this weekend

Oct 3 2019, 8:24 pm

On October 5, Toronto will welcome Nuit Blanche: one of the largest and most unique all-night art festivals in the world, bringing contemporary art installations scattered throughout the city.

From sundown to sunrise (7 pm to 7 am), Toronto will be yours to discover. And with nearly 89 contemporary art projects by more than 300 local, national, and international artists there’ll definitely be something to pique everyone’s interests.

To get through the chilly night, you’ll definitely want to take a shot or three.

You know… to keep yourself warm.

But you don’t want to stray too far off the path towards the night’s coolest installations. Which is why we’ve rounded up 12 bars to hit that are close to some of the event’s must-see pieces.

Installation: Peace to the Past, Reach for the Future

As the Toronto Raptors turn 25, two Toronto artists, Bryan Espiritu and Esmaa Mohamoud, have partnered with the MLSE to create an 18-foot sculpture—honouring the NBA champions’ past, imagining their future, and celebrating the diverse communities that support them.

Where: Queen Street West and Bay Street

Bar to hit: Horseshoe Tavern

mattbeattymusic / Instagram

Just a hop, (not even a skip and a jump!) away from Queen and Bay, Horseshoe Tavern at Spadina and Queen serves beer, pool tables and the ability to order A&W through a window in the wall. The chill and cozy atmosphere will help you unwind from how busy the streets are, and gear up to head back out into the crowd.

Address: 370 Queen Street West


Installation: Life of the Earth

Toronto’s Director X created the multimedia installation “Life of the Earth” in partnership with the Ontario Science Centre, and it involves a large-scale projection showing the Earth, as if seen from space, changing from the past to the present time and the future. This large-scale 360 projection will be on view alongside Death of the Sun, which was commissioned by Nuit Blanche Toronto in 2016.

Where: 770 Don Mills Road, Special Event Entrance off Gateway Blvd. (back of building)

Bar to hit: Amsterdam Barrel House

Amsterdam Barrel House / Instagram

Need a quick pretzel and beer fix? Good thing you’re in the area of Thorncliffe Park! Stop into Amsterdam Barrel House for a flight of brews and a pretzel or two to carb up, keeping your energy high for a night of exploring the city.

Address: 87 Laird Drive


Installation: Lunar Garden

Created by Daniel Arsham, Lunar Garden is a large-scale reinterpretation of a traditional Japanese Zen garden that’s complete with a musical score by Charlotte Day Wilson and Arsham’s iconic brightly coloured sand and sculptures.

Where: Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West

Bar to hit: 3 Brewers Adelaide

3brewersadelaide / Instagram

This no-fuss spot just a short jaunt south of Nathan Phillips will, no doubt, fulfill all your beer-driven desires. Grab a flight and a sausage or two to refuel for the rest of your night on the town.

Address: 120 Adelaide Street West, #100


Installation: Transformation

At this installation, visitors will look up at an enormous, glowing orange orb, which is intended to be a reminder of the catastrophic effects of earth’s rising temperatures, before arranging their own beautifully-lit pathway, walking through a series of touch-sensitive, LED Nano Leaf light panels.

Where: MaRS Discovery District, 661 University Avenue

Bar to hit: Pogue Mahone Pub & Kitchen

Pogue Mahone Toronto / Instagram

With 24 craft beers on tap, daily features, and live music, this spot is the place to get your fill of brews, wine, nachos and warmth. Oktoberfest celebrations are on until the sixth of the month, so while you’re out exploring you can get festive, too!

Address: 777 Bay Street


Installation: Nucleus

This Saturday, you won’t want to miss the captivating light installation ‘Nucleus’ under the Gardiner Expressway. Get ready for glowing pulses of light and radiating sounds, created by artist Nathan Whitford.

Where: 38 Dan Leckie (under the Gardiner Express Way at Dan Leckie Way and Housey Street)

Bar to hit: Belgian Moon Brewery at stackt

jetwashphotos / Instagram

When you find yourself in this little inlet of the city, you’ve got to take the opportunity to visit stackt. Fully-equipped with a brewery running out of shipping containers, you can get your fill of beer, sausage, pretzels, and fried chicken. Plus, there will be more Nuit Blanche installations on-site to check out!

Address: 28 Bathurst Street


Installation: Chasing Red

If you make your way to the CF Eaton Centre you’ll be greeted by a dynamic light installation depicting the northern lights house in the mall’s bridge arching over Queen Street. Created by Bekah Brown, an Anishinaabe artist, the installation will glow with hues that mimic the aurora borealis, with intensifying scarlet lights that symbolize Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Where: CF Toronto Eaton Centre Bridge, 15 Queen Street West

Bar to hit: Craft Beer Market

Craft Beer Market / Instagram

Occupying the corner of Yonge and Adelaide, this spot is your hub for flights of craft beers in the heart of downtown. Taste a variety of different brews and fill your tummy with classic pub fare before heading back out into the night to see the next creation.

Address: 1 Adelaide Street East


Installation: Creation: Destruction

This exhibit, which is made up of nine mini installations and created by Layne Hinton and Rui Pimenta, will challenge your understanding of creation and destruction. Visitors will have the chance to explore how these seemingly contradictory concepts are extensions of each other, two forces that both deplete and feed one another.

Where: Fort York, near 100 Garrison Road

Bar to hit: Pennies

Pennies / Instagram

As you work through the night’s events, you’re probably going to need burgers and tater tots to fuel you. And if you’re swingin’ down to Fort York to check out an installation, Pennies is the place to stop in for a bite and a brew. Don’t miss your chance.

Address: 127 Strachan Avenue


Installation: The Big Feminist Game Show

Those who venture to Scarborough will have the chance to see Instagram sensation and artist Hatecopy host a large-scale interactive feminist game show, that exclusively features questions about prominent feminist figures, gender, pop culture, and more.

Where: Scarborough Town Centre, 300 Borough Drive

Bar to hit: Scaddabush Italian Kitchen & Bar

Scaddabush / Instagram

Midnight pasta and wine? Don’t mind if we do. This spot is inside Scarborough Town Centre is where to get your fill of carbs and alcohol post-installation visit, before you head back out into the world for the next one.

Address: 580 Progress Avenue, Scarborough Town Centre


Installation: The Miss Chief Eagle Testickle Picture Show

While you’re in Scarborough, make sure to check out artist Kent Monkman’s bold and provocative new video installation highlighting Indigenous resilience through a cheeky collection of six videos starring Monkman’s gender-fluid alter ego.

Where: Scarborough Civic Centre, Council Chamber, 150 Borough Drive

Bar to hit: St. Louis Bar and Grill

St. Louis Bar & Grill / Instagram

Late. Night. Wings. ‘Nuff said. This spot’s menu also boasts wings, fries, and plenty of beer. Stop in to fill your tummy with all the saucy bites you can handle.

Address: 55 Town Centre Court Unit 101, Scarborough


Installation: XSITE

“XSITE” will invite visitors to test their relationships with the heavenly bodies orbiting Toronto on Nuit Blanche. Two modified shipping containers will track planets and stars as they form aspects over the course of the night.

Where: David Pecaut Square, 215 King Street West

Bar to hit: Coffee, Oysters and Champagne

coctoronto / Instagram

This spot serves up coffee, oysters, champagne… and so much more. But don’t tell them we told you that. While you pop in here to take a break from all the installations, you’re sure to come across art in other forms.

Address: 214 King Street West


On Thin Ice 

Created by Ghost Atelier, On Thin Ice is a 25-foot (7.5 metre) high shard of “cracked ice” that will emerge on Yonge–Dundas Square as a massive reminder of the effects of climate change.

Where: Yonge-Dundas Square, 1 Dundas Street East

Bar to hit: Imperial Pub

The Imperial Pub / Instagram

Escape the bustle of Yonge and Dundas Square by tucking into this cozy pub, complete with pool tables and a library-feel. The beers are flowing, wines uncorked and classic, comforting pub fare is at the ready to warm your tum.

Address: 54 Dundas Street East


Kaleidoscope: A Social Media Trinity

Created by Alejandro Figueroa, this human-sized kaleidoscopic installation serves as a live feed of projections from social media-the “social media trinity”-of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This Instagrammable installation invites visitors to explore a need for social validation and self-promotion in the digital age.

Where: Drake 150, 150 York Street

Bar to hit: Drake One Fifty

duchess.of.jetlag / Instagram

You’re already here! Drake One Fifty serves gorgeous drinks and mouthwatering eats that are sure to warm you from the inside out. The chill, minimal atmosphere will help you unwind from how busy the streets are, and gear up to head back out into the crowd.

Address: 150 York Street


Nuit Blanche Toronto 2019

When: October 5
 7 pm to 7 am
Where: Locations throughout Toronto
Price: Free

With files from Ainsley Smith. 

Kayla GladyszKayla Gladysz

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