Tag

festival

Browsing

Where to go stargazing for celebrities at TIFF 2017

Toronto is getting glamorous! The Toronto International Film Festival is in town and along with several red carpet premieres, there will be lots of hot and exciting things to do in the city. The official TIFF guide  can help you choose the best film, but if you are just into stargazing and possibly meeting celebrities, check out some popular places to explore for TIFF 2017.

Restaurants

Frings

This popular King-West restaurant has attracted a lot of attention since it opened in 2015. Managed by Executive Chef Susur Lee, this resto-lounge lists Toronto’s very own Aubrey “Drake” Graham as an owner. This comes as no surprise since the star is often spotted here when in town with his celebrity friends. Drake is expected to be in town for this year’s TIFF, as he is the executive producer on a basketball documentary called The Carter Effect.

 

Bosk

Comfortably located at the Shangri-La Hotel on University Avenue, this popular Asian-themed restaurant is familiar to many famous faces. The distinct menu features modern Asian dishes with a Canadian touch. In the past, celebrities such as George Clooney and Johnny Deep were spotted dining here.

STK

This hotspot made its debut after TIFF 2016 and is nestled in the heart of Yorkville. As you can guess by the name,  this restaurant serves up delicious steaks among other bites. This year, the restaurant will host the Creative Coalition Spotlight Initiative gala on September 8. This gala is organized to honour certain celebrities that have contributed in some form. This non-profit charity is concerned about issues in the creative community. This year they will honour Jason Biggs, Zachary Quinto, Julienne Nicholson and Matthew Newton.

Luma

It won’t be right to have this list and not mention the official restaurant at the TIFF Bell Lightbox building. Located on the second floor at the spacious King-West space, this restaurant serves up authentically Canadian dishes in an upscale environment.

Bars

Everleigh

With so much happening for TIFF this weekend, there are expected to be lots of glamorous after parties hosted by celebs. On September 8, King-West hotspot Everleigh will be hosting musical sensation Akon. Akon has sold over 35 million albums worldwide and he’s come to share some of his talent in Toronto for TIFF.

Lavelle

This rooftop bar has gained a lot of momentum since its debut in 2016. What makes this party place lively is its location 16 storeys up in the busy King-West area and a sprawling 16,000 sq. ft lounge space. With an indoor and outdoor dining space, and a glamorous rooftop pool, this hotspot also boasts a great view of the CN tower. In 2016, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and John Legend all attended the Hugo Boss party hosted for La La Land.

 

RBC House

RBC is an official sponsor of TIFF so its no surprise they will be hosting many parties for the celebs. Storys Building at 11 Duncan street will be the location for RBC House and will lay out the red carpet for many A- listers. Expected to make appearances are Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz. RBC House will also host many press junkets and a RBCX music party headlined by Canadian rock band, Arkells.

 

The Drake Hotel

This boutique hotel on Queen West is often more than just a hotel. With three levels of partying, the Drake Hotel has a lot of offer. From delicious brunches and a café in the day, the main level of the hotel bar often hosts live bands or dj’s by night.

Hotels

Bisha Hotel Toronto

This newly opened hotel is sure to be busy during the TIFF weekend. This luxury hotel located on Blue Jays Way in the heart of the city has a stunning rooftop pool and patio — 44 floors high. This hotel is classed as a luxury 5-star experience, so expect celebrities to be checking this one out.

 

Ritz Carlton Toronto

The Ritz is a classic hotel name and one where you may see many stars. This luxury five-star hotel is in the heart of the city, and just steps away from the official TIFF headquarters. One of the many delights you can enjoy at this hotel is their themed afternoon tea. This September there will be a Great Gatsby theme. Afternoon tea at the Ritz will cost you $54 dollars per person, but it’s a small amount to pay to possibly see a famous face.

The Four Seasons Toronto

This classic hotel is in the heart of Yorkville. After changing locations, they reopened doors in 2012. The Four Seasons is now located at the corner of Bay and Yorkville avenue and is also home to the Four Seasons private residences. Soaring 55 stories above the city, this hotel often has many special offers and packages such as a bed and breakfast package, a spa package and even a limited ‘Canada turns 150’ credit. These packages only require a stay of 1-2 nights.

The Hazelton Hotel

This Yorkville luxury hotel is only a few doors down from the Four Seasons, but is still a celeb favourite. Blake Lively, Ben Affleck, Julia Roberts, and Brad Pitt have all reportedly stayed here. If you want to scope this hotel out, the best bet is having a drink at the hotel’s famous ONE restaurant, featuring a lovely tree lined patio.

 

Where have you gone for stargazing? Let us know in the comment below!

 

 

Are you watching the 2017 North American Indigenous Games?

The opening ceremony for the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games took place on July 16 and marked another milestone for the celebration of Indigenous culture and heritage in North America.  The opening parade was held at the Aviva Centre at York University in Toronto and featured Indigenous athletes from the various regions of Turtle Island.

Turtle Island is a reference to North America, based on an Indigenous story of creation. The North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) is the largest gathering of Indigenous people in North America for the purpose of sports and cultural activities.

There are 14 core sports that will be featured during the games and they include: Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Baseball, Canoe, Golf , Lacrosse, Rifle Shooting, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Wrestling, and Volleyball. There will be 13 participating teams from all  the provinces of Canada as well as 13 teams from the United States. The games offer an opportunity for Indigenous youth to showcase their athletic abilities in a series of competitions.

Youth aged 13-19 are eligible to take part in the games. There are expected to be over 5000 participants and over 2000 volunteers for the games. The activities will take place in Toronto and various locations within the GTA, and Six Nations of the Grand River. The games were founded in the early 1970s, but this is the first time in over 25 years that the games will be held in the Eastern Region of Canada.

Lacrosse is one of the 14 sports categories and holds special significance to Indigenous peoples. The game of lacrosse is a traditional game in Indigenous culture. It is often referred to as “The Medicine Game”  and it was believed to be a game gifted to the Indigenous peoples by the creator to encourage fun and active movements and the healing of people. The game is often played by the men in Indigenous culture and was used to train warriors and settle tribal disputes. However, the 2017 NAIG will proudly feature the women’s debut of box lacrosse with teams from six provinces in Canada.

The games will also host various cultural events to celebrate Indigenous heritage at York and McMaster University. The cultural festival is a week long celebration ending this weekend and the festival features Indigenous cuisine, craft, and nightly entertainment. All cultural events are free and open to the public. The festival is also a chance to showcase the award winning talents of Indigenous performers.

The games support Indigenous unity and is a chance to strengthen Indigenous bonds throughout the region. The games run from July 16-23 and will be broadcast via live stream on cbc.ca/sports and the events are free to attend and open to the public. For more information visit NAIG2017.

Festival life reminder of beautiful womanhood

Barefoot in the dirt, dancing around a bonfire with my soul sisters, music, wildflowers, and lichen everywhere. This was FrogFest, the celebration of music and nature, and a true healer of the heart after a long hard year of trucking away in the grind of city life.

Festival life in the summer has become as important as seeing cherry blossoms in May and eating fresh apples in late August. It is an essential part of the Canadian music lover’s life and is a process of revival in the midst of hot and hazy summer days. So, what does it really mean to be a woman immersed in nature and music with her best friends? Why venture out into the forest to not shower for three days and commit yourself to the frenzy of festival life?

Quite simply — to free yourself.

If only for a moment, bills cease to matter and the monotony of the nine-to-five life disappears. Life becomes about the next song, the heartbeat of the vast powerful forest, and picking wildflowers because that is the most important thing you could think to do in that moment.

Millennials are living in a time of low employment opportunities, rising living costs, and an increasingly frightening world. In the wake of the impacts of climate change and a growing sense of disunity on the international stage, young people today are left to face growing challenges. But instead of giving up all hope and turning away from the world, festivals like FrogFest inspire me to believe there is a collective of individuals who want to change the world for the better.

Alongside music, sexy people, and the lush forest landscape, there were many conversations around the importance of barter, trade, and changing society from the capitalist confines that have ravaged our planet. I personally witnessed a young seven-year-old lad trade a drawing for a patch that my friend had sewn. When a young woman tripped and fell during a show, ten people were there to pick her up instead of none. The entire experience was a series of gift giving, from physical objects to spiritual offerings. Festival spaces aren’t only about getting trashed and listening to tunes. It’s about experiencing the freedom to be inspired.

It is also a place to really honour the space and power of womanhood. I was lucky enough to camp with some of my oldest and wisest women friends. To see the ladies who have loved and supported me so happy and complete reflected how much opportunity being outdoors gives us to be our full selves. It was empowering to feel attractive in my natural body, and I saw many people, myself included, who frog-hopped into meeting a special someone who made them feel even more lovely in the brief and beautiful dream world of festival life.

If you haven’t been to an outdoor weekend festival before, it is well worth it. Gather a group of your best girlfriends, bring your most colourful and beautiful possessions to share, and get ready to feel more free than any amount of therapy can offer.

Oh, and don’t forget to find a magical frog in the woods. Ribbit! Welcome home.

Here are some photos from FrogFest

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”8″ gal_title=”FrogFest”]

What the hell happened to Nuit Blanche?

I remember the first time I went to Nuit Blanche. My sister and I headed out around 10 p.m. and stayed out until 2 a.m. wandering the streets of Toronto, taking a look and even taking part in some of the art. University Ave. was completely closed off and all of the exhibitions were placed on platforms outdoors. There were performance pieces, sculptures, photography galleries, and some really neat interactive installations. A few of the pieces were inside a few select buildings, but the majority was outside. Enjoying art under the stars — there is really nothing better.

As we made our way through the intense crowds, we were handed free samples of coffee or hot chocolate, pamphlets from sponsors, and a bunch of other goodies. There was live music and a few DJs, but mostly it was the atmosphere. All together, it seemed like an incredibly late night festival celebrating Toronto’s art community.

And I have to say I enjoyed it immensely.

This year, I left my house late at night hoping to experience something similar. And boy, was I disappointed.

I’m not sure if lack of funding was a factor, but there was very little that was good about this year’s Nuit Blanche. First of all, there was very little organization or signage. I managed to grab a map from a lone volunteer standing on a street by herself downtown, but aside from the rare volunteer and the odd Nuit Blanche square (it was an actual lighted square with a map and nothing else), there were no directions, arrows, or instructions as to how to find and/or enter each instalment.

Second of all — the lines!! If the point is to present art for the masses, this year’s Nuit Blanche failed. Most of the artwork was held inside, and therefore people had to line up to simply enter the building. Some of the interactive installations only let a dozen or so people in at a time.

The lines extended a few blocks and by the time I walked to the front to read the vague and artistic sign that explained what I would see if I decided to wait 45 min. outside in the cold, my mind was already made up. Like most people, I’m not willing to wait in line that long to see a few lights projected against a wall, no matter how modern it is.

The advantage of having art on the street rather than inside a building is that people can actually see it. There are no lines necessary. It also doesn’t make you feel as though you have to rush when you finally enter the building. I think in my total three hour Nuit Blanche experience, I only truly witnessed four or five installations.

And finally, there was no sense of community. Previous years, there were conversations about art, people spoke to one another, discussed what they were seeing, danced to the music, and celebrated Toronto’s culture.

The music, the atmosphere, it was all missing. Most of the time, I was left wondering: is this art or is this just a random group of people playing music dressed up as deer?

Sure, there were some really cool exhibits. “Pneuma” by Floria Sigismondi, a series of projections onto a steady stream of water being sprayed from the pool at Nathan Phillips Square, for example, was truly beautiful and mesmerizing Luzinterruptus’s Literature vs. Traffic was a treat for us book lovers and was quite the compelling installation.

But it wasn’t enough to warrant a whole night out. And by the end, I felt more exhausted than enlightened.

I realize that Nuit Blanche lost a significant amount of funding when Scotiabank pulled out, but if you are going to do it, make sure it is worth seeing. Because next year, some of us may not bother to show up.

The best and worst of Toronto’s Bestival

What is better than listening to music in a kitty costume and feeling completely accepted by everyone around you? Bestival, an annual festival in the United Kingdom, made its way over to Canada to fill people’s minds with great music and an opportunity to dress in style.

Upon entering the festival, I anticipated a fun and loud experience and was not disappointed. The venue was quite extensive —Cosmic Café was the first stage I could see (and it happened to be a moving stage) before seeing the massive main stage. There was an indoor tent that had a heavy dance crowd within. The heard of the electronic soul of Bestival  was of course Bollywood Stage.

There were food trucks spread out in the festival, but limited arts & crafts vendors on site. A knitting café was tucked way into the corner, which allowed people to sit on comfortable coaches covered in a knit canvas. There were several washrooms for guests, which is often an issue in festivals. That being said, the porta potties were gendered with female and male symbols and this struck me as odd.

The gendered porta potty. By Kaeleigh Phillips.
The gendered porta potty. By Kaeleigh Phillips.

I had been excited for Bestival because there were a number of LGBTQ-friendly events listed for Pride Month, including a drag queen costume party and same-sex “fake “ weddings on site. Instead, I was surprised to see gendered outdoor bathrooms and not one pride flag on site. When I checked the inflatable chapel to see if any weddings had occurred, the staff indicated that every “fake” wedding were heterosexual. Though this is no fault of the festival organizers, it was disappointing to see an apparent lack of support around Pride month.

The music itself was spectacular, with Grimes on Sunday night busting her butt on stage even though she reported she was sick. The entire crowd danced through her set. The Cure played a great set, nailing every song and attracting a surprisingly mixed crowd considering the age of the band. They had a two-and-a-half-hour set and ended slightly early, but were otherwise a great performance to watch. The Bollywood Stage was full the entire weekend and left its dancing fans exhausted when the festival concluded.

Overall, Bestival is a stellar new festival for Toronto and Woodbine Park is a spacious venue for the event. With more focus on inclusivity, including genderless washrooms, the party shall continue stronger than ever next year.

What was your favourite part of Bestival? Share in the comments below.

Top exhibitions to check out at CONTACT photography festival

Do you love photography? Look no further! Women’s Post has found the best venues in the city for the annual CONTACT Photography festival.

CONTACT Photography Festival runs from May 1 to 31 and is the largest photography festival in the world. CONTACT is celebrating its 20th year with 20 primary exhibitions and 20 public installations. Most of the primary exhibitions are free except for the one at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the McMichael Museum, which are providing discounted tickets to exhibitions on certain days. Public installations feature photographic images on walls, billboards and subway platforms for the people of Toronto to enjoy. The festival explores a variety of topics through the lens of photography and is well worth checking out.

Here are some of the best spots for the festival, enjoy yourself and let us know what you think!

Women musicians lift the bar at CMW

Plato once said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” I spent last week listening to several women-led bands that played Canadian Music Week (CMW) in Toronto, and I can say with certainty that Plato knew what he was talking about. Here are a few of the acts I saw at the festival — and the bands you should start to listen to asap!

The first band was playing at the Garrison on Dundas St. West. No Sinner, from Vancouver, filled the venue with deep growling rock n’ roll with singer, Colleen Rennison roaring into the mic. No Sinner was one of my favourites at Canadian Music Week because they brought a refreshing and classic sound amidst the keyboard loving shoegaze that has overtaken popular music. Instead, No Sinner brought bluesy rock to Toronto, showing that western Canadian bands can compete with the overwhelming presence of Toronto bands at CMW.

Rennison is a force to be reckoned with on and off the stage and doesn’t think that gender should be a factor within the music industry. “You just have to rise to the occasion regardless of what’s between your legs,” said Rennsion. “The other day, I arrived at the venue before the band and I was trying to get some information from the promotor and he assumed I was someone’s girlfriend in the band. After they saw sound-check, they change their tune.”

No Sinner is due to release their upcoming album, “Old Habits Die Hard” on May 20 and they played their new song, “Hollow” at the CMW show. It is a passionate track about heartbreak and you can really feel Rennison’s pain in her thriving vocals. “So much of what the album is about is the human condition, being an enemy to yourself and the consequences of that,” said Rennison. The whole show had a very visceral feel to it, as if you could experience her pain in yourself. No Sinner is well worth seeing live.

From the Garrison, I jetted to the Mod Club on College St. to see The Wet Secrets perform their set for a packed audience. The band, hailing from Edmonton, is an alt-rock band that uses horns, percussion, coordinated dance moves, and marching band uniforms. The act features two women members, Emma Frazier on the trombone, and Kim Rackel on the trumpet. The band won the Peak Performance Project Award in 2014 where they were given a $100,000 award.

I caught up with Frazier at CMW after their show at the Mod Club. “The show was great. It was an amazing crowd and good energy.” She also explained that in addition to being in a band together, Rackel and Frazier also perform in a burlesque troupe in Edmonton. The two musicians use a set of coordinated dance moves in their marching band outfits and the performance often has sexual undertones. “Getting on stage is fucking rad. I don’t think it should really be a problem. If I’m sexualized, that’s their problem and not mine. I just like performing,” said Frazier.

Other women-led bands that performed CMW included Nao, from the U.K, who performed at the Mod Club as well. Nao is an electronic D.J who has developed a large following because of her well-developed snyth-pop sound. The show was packed and Nao delivered. Adee from Sweden also played at the Nightowl, which was a smaller venue. She brought an R&B sound mixed with hip hop riffs and got an audience member to join her on stage to sing. She was lively and positive about the small crowd attending her gig.

CMW was a wild ride and watching several female bands perform was enlightening. There are so many talented women performers out there and seeing the variety of styles in their music had my body grooving. Take a listen to these ladies and remember, support women in music! I will definitely be attending CMW next year to see the next wave of women to light up the stage in Toronto.

800 ladies drink beer at first festival of its kind

The bus to Evergreen Brickworks was packed Friday night. Hundreds of women were pilling in, dressed in layers to keep themselves warm on this strangely frigid April evening. There were lots of conversations going on, but most of the commuters were wondering what the event they were heading to was going to be like.

Women’s Post attended the first Ladies Craft Beer Festival in Canada on April 1 and can attest that it was absolutely not an April Fool’s joke. The outdoor venue was completely decked out in twinkle lights, with bonfires set up to thaw participants when they got a bit chilly. Vendors lined the perimeter, each one offering two to four choices of frothy beverages. There was something for everyone — sweet ciders, IPAs, and dark stouts. My personal favourite was the Growler of Fire, a stout with hints of chocolate and chilli, from Great Lakes Brewery.

20160401_200031_HDRParticipants were given four free drink tickets upon entering the venue, but it wasn’t that expensive to get more. The drink tickets were relatively cheap, each costing about $1.50, or $10 for seven. There were 16 brewers handing out various samples and each one was incredibly happy to be there. I tried beers from about seven of them before I succumbed to the cold myself. Some of the top contenders were Love Fuzz, a red pale ale from Black Oak Brewing, Sweetgrass Brewing’s Shagbark Export Stout, and the Extra Special IPA from High Park Brewery. I did try the cranberry cider from KW Craft Cider, but found it incredibly sweet. My colleagues attending with me, however, raved about it’s intriguing tartness.
The atmosphere at the festival was comfortable, relaxing, and fun. It wasn’t hectic — a claim many beer festivals can’t make—and I think a lot of the attendees (myself included) really enjoyed being able to go to an event where you didn’t have to stand in line for hours for a sample.

“I was talking to some of the guys working and they couldn’t believe it. They were saying they’ve never experienced such a calm and friendly vibe at a festival,” said Jennifer Reinhardt, Muskoka Brewery Sales Rep-GTA West andCo-Founder of the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies. “Usually with beer festivals it starts calm and it gets chaotic at the end. Ours didn’t.”

20160401_200139_HDR
The event was organized by the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies (SOBDL), a group of five Toronto women who are passionate about
beer and want to share that passion with others. The SOBDL organizes monthly “bevys” at secret locations to try out different craft brews. Usually, their gatherings are a bit intimate (about 150 people), but this time the popularity of the event soared. Tickets for the Ladies Craft Beer Festival sold out in 36 hours, with about 800 women attending. There were a few men helping out the brewers, whose female staff may not have been able to make the event, but otherwise, the entire venue was full of women of various ages.

But, why was a ladies-only craft beer festival necessary? As Magenta Suzanne, co-organizer and member of SOBDL, said at the event, it was only 46 years ago that the last men’s-only bar closed.

“It took five minutes for Internet trolls to tell us we were sexist,” said Suzanne. “They say that there is no such thing as a man’s beer festival. I say, ‘have you been to a beer festival? There is a reason why there is no line at the women’s washroom’.”

“This doesn’t feel like activism because it tastes good, but it is.

For Reinhardt, it was all about the sense of community. “I think in this case it’s a safe space for women. A lot of women say that they could relax, the vibe was great, and they felt really comfortable.”

Interested in going to the next Ladies Craft Beer festival? Clear your calendar on June 11 and head to Yonge-Dundas Square. There will be over 100 craft beer vendors, as well as live music.

20160401_202746_HDR

Here are the women rockin’ the upcoming Junos

Canadian bands and musicians are flooding Western Canada in preparation for the upcoming Junos Awards and the accompanying week-long festival. On April 3, the 45th Junos will be held at the Calgary Saddledome, and many amazing Canadian women are in the running for awards. Personally, I’m looking forward to watching Buffy Sainte-Marie perform along with several other talented Canadian musicians.

Alongside the Junos, Junofest will run from March 28 to April 3 brings together local musical acts alongside Juno nominees across venues in the city. In preparation for this show-stopping event, I went down to check out the Juno Hub, a pop-up shop (824 8th St. S.W) dedicated to all things Juno. The first thing I noticed was the displays from nominees and past Juno award winners that decorated the walls. Upon entering, classic rock musician Buffy Sainte-Marie’s dress was being showcased. Drake’s shoes were also in the window display, having been sent from the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto for the occasion. An outfit from Russell Peters was in the shop and shoes from hip-hop artist K-OS were also showcased.

This year’s Junofest will include some amazing performances by 36?, Milk&Bone, Lucette and The Wet Secrets. Calgary is also hosting the Juno Photography Exhibition and the Juno Tour of Canadian Art, which includes art selections by past Juno winners, including 54-40 and The Trews.

I combed through the award nominees, specifically focusing on the female talent being showcased. Classic rock artist Buffy Sainte-Marie has a double nomination for contemporary roots album of the year and as well as aboriginal album of the year. She is one of the headliners at the Junos and her performance is sure to impress. Sainte-Marie originally hails from the Piapot Cree First Nations Reserve in Qu’Appelle Valley, S.K., and is a renowned aboriginal rights activist.

Long-time Canadian band, Metric, led by front woman Emily Haines, has been nominated for group of the year. Walk Off the Earth with singer Sarah Blackwood has been nominated for pop album of the year. Alessia Cara is a popular contender, being nominated for both breakthrough artist of the year and R&B/ Soul recording of the year.

Heavy metal band, Diemonds, which is frontlined by female rocker Priya Panda, has also been nominated for heavy metal album of the year. Diemonds is a well-loved metal band in Toronto and one of the few all-female metal bands in the country.

I hope that some of these female musicians take the win at the Junos this year.  It is important to remember how hard it is (even today) for women to climb up in the industry, especially in the male-dominated heavy metal genre. Fingers crossed for the women involved, and even if they don’t win, supporting Canadian female music year-round may lead them to a Juno in the future.