By Rod Charles for Vancity Buzz, writer for Vacay.ca
I was enjoying a burger and beer at Betty’s (240 King Street E) in the dead of winter when Kiefer Sutherland walked in and sat down behind me. I offered a polite nod. He nodded back.
A month later, I was leaving Loblaws (10 Lower Jarvis Street) with supplies for a party and as I was heading out the door, Donald Sutherland came strolling in. I offered a polite nod. He kinda nodded back. We walked past each other without saying a word, but I didn’t care. I felt like part of the family.
My point? They call Toronto Hollywood North for a reason. TIFF is obviously the best time to see celebrities but movies and TV shows are filmed in the city all the time and it’s not uncommon to see familiar faces when you least expect it. Personally, I’ve seen celebs throughout the years near the Eaton Centre, Bayview Mall, at Pearson International Airport and in several different pubs and restaurants throughout the city.
That being said, for people who love stargazing TIFF is king and if you know where to go it’s likely you’ll catch a glimpse of a star.
King and John Street
Start your search for stars at TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street W), where the festival is launched every year and where all the action happens. Open to tourists, TIFF Bell Lightbox features multiple screenings and premieres. Stars can be seen coming in and going out all the time, heading to screenings, press conferences or dinner at one of the restaurants.
King Street is wonderful for stargazing. Canada’s Walk of Fame can be found on King Street, and several fashionable restaurants and bars line the street in front of the TIFF building between John Street and Blue Jays Way. Roy Thompson Hall, Royal Alexandra Theatre and the Princess of Wales Theatre often have events going on during TIFF that attract celebrities. Here’s a handy map that tells you where to go.
Other venues further west on King Street where the odds are good of spotting a celebrity are Brassaii (461 King Street West) and Spoke Club (600 King Street West). Etalk.ca says Brassaii has been a festival favourite for years with the likes of Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and the Spoke Club hosts the Canadian Filmmakers’ party. Another is Weslodge (480 King Street West) where it’s a good bet that a celeb will show up to party the night away.
TIFF is a city-wide event of course, but King at John Street to me is the epicentre of the event. This is where the action is. You have TIFF Bell Lightbox at this location. This area is alive during TIFF, and crawling with people, including celebrities on occasion. — Rod Charles
Vacay.ca writer Sandra Williams-Herve had many wonderful things to say about Yorkville, writing that just hanging out around here and checking out the countless restaurants, pubs, bars and shops is a great way to see stars. Some of Toronto’s best-known hotels live in and just outside the area, including Four Seasons Hotel Toronto (60 Yorkville Avenue), Park Hyatt Toronto (4 Avenue Road) and Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville (90 Bloor Street East). Another restaurant that has a reputation for attracting visiting stars is Sassafraz (100 Cumberland Street).
One Restaurant and the The Hazelton Hotel (118 Yorkville Avenue) are located in the heart of ritzy Yorkville, One is among Toronto’s most notable restaurants for celebrity sightings. Since it’s attached to the Hazelton Hotel, where many stars spend their time when in the city, it’s quite likely you’ll spot a marquee name before or after he/she is on the red carpet. With 62 beautifully designed rooms and 15 suites, the Hazelton is regarded as Toronto’s most exclusive boutique hotel. Past guests have included Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Justin Bieber. –Sandra Williams-Herve
Queen and Dufferin Street
There is a very good chance you might see a celebrity around this intersection. Drake Hotel (1150 Queen Street West) is a nice stop. According to louloumagazine.com, Lauren Conrad, Kate Bosworth and Justin Long have chilled out here. Slice.ca says Claire Danes, Adrian Grenier, Taylor Kitsch, Donald Sutherland and Suits star Gabriel Macht have also been seen at Drake.
Just a few doors away is the very popular Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street W). It will host the Canadian Cinema Editor’s Party and while this event isn’t open to the public, celebrities love hanging out at Gladstone.
A lot of Toronto’s best things are in this neighbourhood. Like its best brewpub, Bellwoods Brewery, which serves a range of tasty pints in a lively atmosphere on Ossington Street. The best small music venue in Toronto is in this part of town, too. The Dakota Tavern, which is actually at the corner of Dundas and Ossington, is filled with music fans who enjoy folk and country-rock tunes, along with some quality food. Looking for a hotel with personality? Try the Gladstone, whose rooms are each designed by a prominent artist. You may not find gala events in this area during TIFF, but you will find a lot of movie industry types hanging out here during the festival. After all, this is the style centre of Toronto. –Adrian Brijbassi
– With Files From Sandra Williams-Herve & Adrian Brijbassi.