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What to Do in Toronto During The Toronto International Film Festival

When you’re not busy being star struck at the Toronto International Film Festival, there are plenty of sites this busy city has to offer. Check out our recommendations on what to do in Toronto while you’re between screenings at TIFF 2018.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is right up there in popularity with Cannes. Years ago, the major events of TIFF were isolated to the upscale neighbourhood of Yorkville but it has since moved south to the heart of downtown so the entire city of Toronto can enjoy the festivities. Most of the films and entertainment can be found at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on King Street West. Here’s a guide of what to do and see during the Toronto International Film Festival 2018.

During the festival, streets are closed off to make room for the red carpets. Local Torontonians get into the spirit of the film festival and the proximity to downtown allows fans to catch glimpses of their favourite stars. 

While star-sighting can be a thrilling adventure, Toronto has plenty of activities to offer when you’re not chasing after autographs and selfies. This list includes a few ideas about what you should do in Toronto while you’re in town for TIFF.

George Clooney at TIFF. What to Do in Toronto at the Toronto International Film Festival
George Clooney at the Toronto International Film Festival

Nathan Phillips Square

During your downtime, head over to Nathan Phillips Square where Toronto’s City Hall is located. Movie buffs may recognize this building from Resident Evil: Apocalypse! These days, the large TORONTO sign located in front of the reflecting pool gets a lot of attention.

Toronto Eaton Centre

Located a few steps from City Hall is the Toronto Eaton Centre where you can shop just about every major retailer. Saks Fifth Avenue is connected to the mall via a pedestrian bridge and is part of the Hudson’s Bay store. If you’re looking for high-end shopping, head over to Bloor Street, which is one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world.

Toronto sign in Nathan Phillips Square. What to Do in Toronto at the Toronto International Film Festival
What to Do in Toronto at the Toronto International Film Festival: Nathan Phillips Square
Image courtesy of Scott Webb

Toronto’s Diverse Areas

Within walking distance of downtown, you can get your fix of dim sum at Rol San and find Chinese pastries for ridiculously low prices at Mashion Bakery in Chinatown.

Jump on the streetcar or subway and within 15 minutes you could be having gelato at Dolce in Little Italy or be spending the night singing away at XO Karaoke in Koreatown (after a delicious Korean meal, of course).

Top Art Galleries & Museums

If it’s your first time in Canada or you’re a returning visitor, you’ll want to check out Toronto’s cultural scene. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has more than 80,000 works and has free admission to its permanent collection on Wednesday nights from 6-9 p.m.

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) on Bloor Street has been the talk of the town ever since the new modern addition designed by Daniel Libeskind was completed. The new wing literally sticks out onto Yonge Street and has created much-needed gallery space. Inside you’ll find permanent galleries on dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, and Canada’s First Peoples.

Both the AGO and ROM are also used for festival parties so who knows, you may even see some celebrities.

Catch a Baseball Game

Sports fans will be interested in the Blue Jays schedule during the first weekend of TIFF. The Toronto Blue Jays take on the Cleveland Indians. These matchups are sure to have fans going wild!

Blue Jays playing at the Rogers Centre. What to Do in Toronto at the Toronto International Film Festival
What to Do in Toronto at the Toronto International Film Festival: Blue Jay’s Baseball Game
Image courtesy of Jeffrey Carlson

More Toronto Activities!

Even if you have no interest in baseball, it is still worth heading towards the Rogers Centre (home of the Blue Jays). The CN Tower, where you’ll get the best vantage point in the city, is located next to the stadium.

If you are travelling with little ones, a trip to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada at the base of the tower is a must.

If not travelling with little ones, across from the Aquarium is Steam Whistle Brewing where you can take a tour for just $12. Yes, samples are included. Toronto’s distillery district is also a great place to end up for a few drinks.

A little further south is Toronto’s waterfront, a very pedestrian-friendly area. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and urban beaches where you can enjoy the sun. If time permits, you might even want to consider taking the ferry to Centre Island, which is a nice retreat from the city.

Royal Ontario Museum. What to Do in Toronto at the Toronto International Film Festival
What to Do in Toronto at the Toronto International Film Festival: Royal Ontario Museum
Image courtesy of Danielle Petti

TIFF is one of the busiest times of the year in Toronto, so if you haven’t booked your hotels yet, do so now! The SoHo Metropolitan, Sheraton Centre Toronto, and Le Germain Hotel Toronto Mercer are all great choices since they all put you right in the middle of all the movie-star action.