September 3, 2014 12:24 pm
Updated: September 3, 2014 1:40 pm

How (and where) to spot stars during Toronto International Film Festival

Jennifer Aniston, pictured at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

Jag Gundu / Getty Images

TORONTO — The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) kicks off Thursday and the city’s hotel lobbies, restaurants, and red carpets will soon be flooded with famous faces in fancy footwear.

Spotting stars in Toronto during TIFF isn’t difficult if you’re patient, persistent — and you’ve done your homework.

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Pair the official TIFF schedule with online resources like to figure out who’s likely to be where at any given time. Check the stars’ Twitter accounts for clues about their whereabouts or travel plans. And, don’t forget to network — share intel with other star-spotters and you’ll be able to cover more ground.

Stars who smoke — and a lot of them do — are easy targets because they have to step outside to puff. Break the ice by asking for a light (even if you don’t smoke).

READ MORE: Murray, Washington among stars set to shine at TIFF

No matter where you do your stalking, leave the professional photographers (the paparazzi) alone. Asking them questions like “Who are you waiting for?” and “Who’s in there?” is obnoxious. They don’t work for you and, whether you agree or not, they’re doing their jobs. How would you feel if someone stood behind you at your job and asked a bunch of questions?

At the end of the day, remember celebrities are just people. Is a few seconds basking in the glow of a star worth several hours of your time? Is the ability to post selfies with stars really worth taking time off work?

Here’s a guide to unofficial celeb stalking…err…spotting around Toronto during TIFF.

King Street neighbourhood

Hanging out at and near the TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King St. W) is a good way to bump into someone more famous than yourself.

The daily press conferences are held inside the building so keep an eye on the side and back doors. A block away is the Hyatt Regency (370 King St. W), where industry folks gather.

Hotels to watch include the Ritz-Carlton (181 Wellington St. W), the Shangri-La (188 University Av.) and Trump International Hotel (325 Bay St.). You’re likely to get kicked out of the lobbies so either get a room or find a spot in their bars and restaurants.

Of course the restaurants and bars in the neighbourhood will bring out some bold face names so have your credit card ready and you may end up lunching at a table next to a Hollywood star.

Some of the hot spots to watch include Montecito (299 Adelaide St. W), the new restaurant from director Ivan Reitman (if Bill Murray doesn’t drop in at some point there’s probably no hope he’ll be in Ghostbusters 3); STORYS (11 Duncan St.), where parties and junkets are held; and Soho House (192 Adelaide St. W), is party central during TIFF.

Toronto Pearson International Airport

It’s a long way from King Street but Terminal 1 at Pearson is the real hub of TIFF when it comes to getting up close to the stars.

Autograph seekers and paparazzi stake out the airport’s international arrivals area in the afternoon and evening — and stalk the departure area upstairs every morning and early afternoon.

Stars coming into the city from overseas or Los Angeles can be a little cranky so keep a respectful distance and — like any good Canadian — be polite when asking for an autograph or photo.


Toronto’s tony shopping district was, for many years, ground zero for all things TIFF. While most of the action has moved south to King Street, Yorkville still attracts stars to its high-end shops, restaurants and hotels.

Crowds will surely camp out at the Four Seasons (60 Yorkville Av.), Hazelton Hotel (118 Yorkville Av.), Park Hyatt (4 Avenue Rd.) and Windsor Arms (18 St. Thomas St.) throughout TIFF. The Intercontinental (220 Bloor St.) hosts press junkets so actors and filmmakers come and go all day long.

Bars and restaurants to keep an eye on include One (116 Yorkville Av.), Sotto Sotto (116 Avenue Rd.) and Il Posto (148 Yorkville Av.).

A stroll down Bloor Street West — aka the mink mile — might result in a celebrity sighting outside Holt Renfrew (50 Bloor St. W), Harry Rosen (82 Bloor St. W) or any of the luxury boutiques.

Red carpets

If you want to see the stars all dressed up, arrive early and find a place near the red carpets at venues like Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe St.), the Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King St. W), Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge St.), Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles St. W) and Ryerson Theatre (43 Gerrard St.).

Many of the celebs make a beeline for the barricades after emerging from their SUVs and sedans so do or say something to stand out from the crowd.


Stars love to spend their bucks at Starbucks. Be vigilant while at any of the outlets in the King St./Wellington St. area and in Yorkville.

WATCH: Many bars and nightclubs will be getting a new “last call” time for TIFF

Follow @GlobalJRK for TIFF updates and star sightings.

© 2014 Shaw Media

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