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Your Ultimate Guide to Visiting TIFF

Your Ultimate Guide to Visiting TIFF

Your ultimate guide to TIFF is here.

TIFF is starting this weekend, which means it’s time to get started on planning your film schedules.

TIFF is an exciting season in Toronto, from all the celebrities visiting to all the incredible films being screened!

Even if you don’t go to any actual film screenings, it’s still fun to go around the city during TIFF season.

I volunteered at TIFF during university (I went to Ryerson for their RTA Media Production program), so I’ve seen the festival from both behind-the-scenes and as a regular visitor.

Volunteering at TIFF in Toronto
Required volunteer gear: a bright orange t-shirt with black dress pants.

While it was fun volunteering with friends from my program, I definitely prefer visiting TIFF as a viewer 😉

Here’s your ultimate guide to TIFF, including what to do and where to eat during the festival!

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What is TIFF?

The Toronto International Film Festival, otherwise known as TIFF, is an annual festival that premieres exciting new films.

It’s one of the largest film festivals in the world, with almost half a million visitors each year.

Their operating hub is at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, where they also screen films from around the world throughout the year.

Tickets at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)

What to do during TIFF

Looking for fun things to do during TIFF season?

Here are some activities and things you can do in the area!

  1. Explore Festival Street
  2. Go celebrity spotting
  3. Grab cocktails at a fancy Toronto bar
  4. See a film screening
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TIFF Festival Street in Toronto

Explore Festival Street

The city closes off part of King Street from Peter to University, so it’s safer and easier for pedestrians to explore.

From fun brand activations to food trucks, there are always cool things going on at Festival Street.

You might even be lucky to get some free food – my friends and I got free soft serve one year!

Go celebrity spotting

TIFF is the most popular time of year for celebrity visits, and tons of locals go celebrity spotting.

Some of the biggest names in Hollywood come to Toronto during TIFF, and it’s always exciting to see.

It’s well known that a lot of celebrities stay at the Ritz-Carlton, so you can try your luck outside the hotel!

Otherwise, the red carpets are a guaranteed bet.

The Fox & Fiddle on John Restaurant, Toronto

Grab cocktails at a fancy Toronto bar

TIFF season means 4 AM last call, so what better excuse to hit up one of Toronto’s fancy bars?

The Fox on John is right in the heart of all the TIFF action if you’re looking for somewhere closeby.

The Thompson Hotel also makes great drinks, and it’s frequented by celebrities!

Deadlands cast at TIFF in Toronto

See a film screening (duh)

What better way to experience TIFF than to actually see a TIFF film?

Some films are harder than others to get tickets for, especially if they have Q&A sessions with cast or production members.

The Q&A definitely makes for a more fun screening experience, but you can still enjoy the film otherwise!

Where to eat during TIFF

There are plenty of awesome restaurants in the Entertainment District, which is where all the TIFF venues are located.

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Here are a few of my favourite restaurants close to all the theatres, and I’ve listed the walking times alongside them!

  1. Canteen
  2. The Fox on John
  3. General Assembly Pizza
  4. Calii Love
  5. Little India

Canteen Restaurant by Oliver & Bonacini in Toronto


If you’re too lazy to walk or commute anywhere, Canteen is located downstairs inside TIFF Bell Lightbox.

There’s also LUMA upstairs, also owned by the Oliver & Bonacini restaurant brand, but I prefer Canteen!

1 minute from TIFF Bell Lightbox and Princess of Wales Theatre, 5 minutes from Roy Thomson Hall and Scotiabank Theatre

LOCATION: 330 King St. West | Website

The Fox & Fiddle on John Restaurant, Toronto

The Fox on John

In the mood for pub food?

Stop by the Fox on John for classic British pub faves and sweet, sweet cocktails.

2 minutes from TIFF Bell Lightbox and Princess of Wales Theatre, 4 minutes from Roy Thomson Hall, 3 minutes from Scotiabank Theatre

LOCATION: 106 John St. | Website

General Assembly Pizza, Toronto

General Assembly Pizza

Satisfy those pizza cravings at this gorg spot in the Entertainment District that serves up some of the best pizza in Toronto.

Top it off with a cocktail or beer.

4 minutes from Scotiabank Theatre, 4 minutes from TIFF Bell Lightbox

LOCATION: 331 Adelaide St. West | Website

Poke bowl at Calii Love in Toronto, Ontario

Calii Love

If you want a quick bite to eat before or after watching a TIFF screening, stop by Calii Love.

You can enjoy a healthy smoothie to go alongside a poké bowl or açai bowl!

They’ve also been frequented by many celebrities during TIFF.

If you’re looking to get some photos for the ‘Gram, they’ve got Instagram-worthy murals in the alleyway beside the restaurant.

3 minutes from TIFF Bell Lightbox and Princess of Wales Theatre, 6 minutes from Roy Thomson Hall and Scotiabank Theatre

LOCATION: 367 King St. West | Website

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Little India Restaurant in Toronto

Little India

Indian food is always a good idea.

If you’re catching an afternoon film, Little India’s got a $12.99 lunch buffet and you can get endless amounts of delicious butter chicken.

4 minutes from Scotiabank Theatre, 6 minutes from Princess of Wales Theatre, 7 minutes from TIFF Bell Lightbox, 8 minutes from Roy Thomson Hall, 11 minutes from Winter Garden Theatre

LOCATION: 255 Queen St. West | Website

So that was my guide to TIFF, whether you’re a local or a tourist!

Will you be watching any films at TIFF this year? Let me know on Twitter or Instagram!

P.S. if you liked this post, you might like this post on the best Toronto taco spots, or any other posts on things to do in Toronto.

Be sure to keep up with me on Instagram, TikTokTwitter, Facebook, and Pinterest if you aren’t already!

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Jessica Lam | Toronto lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and travel blogger | Diary of a Toronto Girl, a Canadian lifestyle blog

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Planning a visit to the Toronto International Film Festival? Here's your ultimate guide on visiting TIFF, including what to do during the festival and where to eat around the theatres!

Emma S. Cheng

Wednesday 7th of September 2016

Thanks for the suggestions, Jessica!

Jessica Lam

Wednesday 7th of September 2016

No problem, Emma! Let me know if you watch any good films at TIFF 😊