Story by Sandra Williams-Herve
TORONTO, ONTARIO — For 10 fabulous days and nights, the streets of Toronto transform into one very, very long red carpet. Everyone from the Hollywood elite to the international “It List” will descend upon our fair streets and make even the biggest armchair critic as giddy as a school girl.
Movies are awesome but admit it — you want to get a glimpse of a star. Here are some places where you have the best chance to get within viewing distance of a celebrity during the 39th annual Toronto International Film Festival.
Montecito Restaurant (299 Adelaide Street West)
Director Ivan Reitman of Stripes and Ghostbusters fame has a new project: a 12,000-square-foot, two-storey, 280-seat restaurant conveniently located behind the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Run by executive chef Matt Robertson, Montecito’s menu marries California cuisine with the best Canadian ingredients.
The patio, which faces Adelaide, is perfect for watching the action on the street and possibly seeing a star. Given its proximity to the landmark TIFF building it’s sure to be party central. And if you’re in the mood for a simple, sophisticated meal at a fair price, this is definitely the place to be.
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.
[box_light]When Justin Bieber and JLo come to town[/box_light]
Yorkville and King Street
Speaking of Yorkville Street, 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).
Another good street for Stargazing is King Street. Roy Thompson Hall, Royal Alexandra Theatre and the Princess of Wales Theatre sometimes have events going on during TIFF that attract celebrities (click here to see event locations). 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.
Celebrity Gifting Lounges
Even millionaires love a free gift when it’s offered to them. Fortunately, there are enough of them scattered across downtown Toronto to warrant a celebrity gift crawl. It’s unlikely that celebrity swag will be offered to you, but if you hang out around the right spots during this year’s TIFF you might have a brush with Reese Witherspoon or Denzel Washington. If you’re wondering why wealthy celebrities get all this free swag, Natasha Koifman of NKPR has the answer.
“Celebrities are not getting free stuff,” says Koifman. “They’re connecting with the products that they get excited about.”
Here’s a list of celebrity gift lounges in Toronto where you might see a star, but be warned — these lounges are by invitation only and security is über tight:
AMC DPA Gift Lounge
Location: Storys Building, 11 Duncan Street
Tastemakers Gifting Lounge presented by Brita
Location: Intercontinental Hotel, 225 Front Street West
Location: NKPR, 312 Adelaide Street West.
Celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Robert De Niro are known to just pop up at the oddest, most unlikely locations. This week the parking lot on Richmond, just east of John Street, will be home to a five-day concert series hosted by Pepsi Canada. The crazy thing about this party is that it will take place inside a giant Pepsi bottle. Open daily starting at 11 am, the show begins at 7:30 pm. Below is the concert lineup:
Tiffany Nails (362 Bloor Street West)
Not all celebrities like to go to the swankiest beauty salons to get their nails done. Actress Jennifer Tilly’s nail bar of choice is Tiffany Nails located in The Annex.
Equinox Gym (199 Bay Street, Commerce Court)
So, you want to meet a celebrity? You better sweat for it! Equinox is an American-based gym franchise that is chock full of celebrities looking to maintain or create an enviable figure. And Toronto’s outpost in the Financial District is the go-to destination for celebrities. Film stars such as Cameron Diaz, Bradley Cooper and Renee Zellweger have worked up a healthy sweat over there.
MORE ABOUT TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL