September can mean back-to-school season for many, but for those in the arts, entertainment and public relations worlds, this month brings the Toronto International Film Festival. The 10-day festival (September 8 to 18) takes over the city, filling the TIFF Bell Lightbox, hotels and restaurants with celebrities and celebrity-watchers alike. From red-carpet appearances at David Pecaut Square to legendary after-parties, we’ve shortlisted the hot spots.
What to know
The most anticipated film this year is arguably The Magnificent Seven, a remake of the classic 1960’s gun-slinging Western that is opening the festival with a red carpet that will see the all-star cast, including Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke.
Another highly anticipated feature, the space-thriller Arrival by Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve, will have its Canadian premiere at the festival. In the movie, a team of experts headlined by Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker is tasked with making first contact with alien spacecrafts that have landed on Earth.
For filmgoers thirsting for something a little heavier, Oliver Stone’s biopic Snowden, with Joseph-Gordon Levitt in the title role of Eric Snowden, dramatizes the NSA scandal.
Where to dine
If you’re looking to dine like a star after the credits roll, make a late reservation at one of these buzzy addresses that have been known to attract some serious star wattage. Byblos, known for its eastern Mediterranean cuisine, hosted luminaries such as John Travolta, Gerard Butler and Liam Hemsworth last year. Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and the cast of last year’s Academy Awards favorite, Spotlight, were seen at the modern Italian restaurant Figo last year.
Where to stay
Experience it all from Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto, where the lobby comes alive with Hollywood elite. Located at the south side of David Pecaut Square, where all the TIFF red-carpet action takes place, the hotel has plenty of ways to make guests feel like A-listers.
In honor of the hotel’s sixth year in “The Six” (Toronto’s Drake-approved nickname), special city-themed menus will be featured at DEQ Lounge and Ritz Bar. Try the Red Rocket (a reference to the city’s public transit system), the Bay Street Bull or The 6, a $600 scotch whiskey cocktail topped with Remy Martin Louis XIII Grande Champagne.
At the property’s Four-Star Spa My Blend by Clarins, exclusive treatments like the Leading Man facial, the Scene Stealer Champagne mani/pedi and the Star for a Day package will pamper and delight until you actually feel like Tinseltown royalty.
Where to play
In the spirit of celebrating the 41st annual fest, the Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Toronto in Yorkville has partnered with champagne producer Perrier-Jouët to create a lush garden oasis. Aptly named L’Eden by Perrier-Jouët, the pop-up patio (recently seen at Miami’s Art Basel) was designed by Yorkville’s Teatro Verde lifestyle/home-design shop. Rub elbows with other TIFF goers in this tucked-away secret garden where you are invited to sip all day and night from now until September 18.
At Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Thompson Toronto Hotel, try deliciously crafted signature cocktails inspired by the movies. Created by Chris McCrabb, the hotel’s head bartender, these showstoppers are a must-try treat. Get a taste of the Ryan Gosling Won’t Drink His Cocktail (gin, raspberry syrup, lemon and champagne) or The 6ix Shooter, a bourbon-powered libation inspired by the aforementioned Magnificent Seven.