As summer temps cool down, holiday party bookings heat up. What’s on your festive-season mind: Stylish and sophisticated or casual and fun?
Check out the following collection of unique venues we’ve rounded up to help inspire your holiday event planning ideas:
The Spot: Kick back and play while the owners are away is the premise behind The Addisons Residence. This new, edgy club-lounge concept transformed the former C-Lounge space on Wellington, leaving an upscale “home” in its wake.
The Space: A swank foyer, bedecked in palm tree wallpaper and gilded accents, sets the tone, giving way to three ’80s-contemporary designed residential-style rooms – a kitchen, a living room and a rec room. Clever details such as family photos of the fictional absentee owners play up the away-from-home concept, while designer wingback chairs, sofas and décor make for comfy house-party furnishings. Food Dudes has the kitchen covered with snacking fare or a customized menu for a private dining table sit-down. Cocktails are prime (thumbs-up to the punch-bowl menu) with a bar in every room plus cart service. Foosball, shuffleboard and bubble hockey are rec-room magnets.
Bonus: A cabana-filled backyard patio for outdoor shindigs.
Capacity: 500 total or arrange for rental by room
A Lofty Touch
The Spot: The Aperture Room, a gorgeous third-floor space in the historic Thornton-Smith Building at Yonge and Elm Streets.
The Space: Named after The Camera Exchange, a past tenant of the building, the room’s striking vaulted glass-ceiling skylights are uncanny resemblances to enormous lenses channeling in the sun, city lights and evening stars. The loft-style room has an industrial chic appeal with a bare-bones beauty simplicity requiring only minimal décor and mood lighting to play up its exposed red brick, multiple windows and wide-plank wood floors. Love the chalkboard graffiti wall!
Bonus: Food styling and tastes are guaranteed top-notch in the hands of exclusive in-house caterer and service operator Oliver & Bonacini.
Capacity: 180 reception-style
Under The Sea
The Spot: For something quite remarkable, take your event on a deep-sea dive at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, where the colour and movements of its 16,000 marine and freshwater inhabitants make for an awe-inspiring backdrop.
The Space: Nine galleries, each with distinctive aesthetics and resident underwater creatures, are all the entertainment visual necessary to engage guests in a unique event experience. Our favourite is the jellyfish area, where their graceful underwater moves, captured in ever-changing hues, make for a mesmerizing scene. A full venue buyout (after 7 p.m) includes guest access to exhibit areas with the option of setting up food and cocktail stations throughout. During business hours, the Dangerous Lagoon Overlook perched above the shark tank offers a semi-private event area. Two additional private rooms are also available.
Bonus: Add in a customized educational dive show and talk showcasing the marine life and souvenir snaps that green screen guests in the midst of a shark attack.
Capacity: Venue buyout: 1,200; Dangerous Lagoon Overlook: 75 reception-style; Atlantic or Pacific Rooms, each seating 30 or combined for 60
The Space: In a word: Stunning! Dining amid the sheer beauty of this Parisian-inspired restaurant is a gift unto itself; the food an homage to France. Bright and airy, the attention to detail is meticulous, from sophisticated French antique and Art Deco accents that work marvelously against the room’s distinctive industrial architecture to the monogrammed dinnerware. The spacious dining area is well laid out in sections conducive to group dining for multiple parties of up to 18. Seating for 10 around the oyster bar offers front-row viewing of the kitchen action. In back, a beautifully appointed private dining room divides into two and offers direct access to the restaurant’s patio.
Bonus: The annual Toronto Christmas Market lights up the Distillery District Nov. 20-Dec. 20, 2015 giving guests a wonderful pre- and post-event chance to experience the festival’s entertainment and activities.
Capacity: Dining room: 146 seated; Private dining room: 80 seated or two rooms holding 32 and 48; Patio: 60
Make It Merry
The Space: Celebrating over 50 years of comedy, Second City’s Mainstage Theatre sports a refreshed, larger lobby and bar. The theatre, filled with table tops and red cushioned chairs, is cosy – perfect for sharing the convivial experience of laughter. New this year, the move of The John Candy Box Theatre to the third floor as part of the new specially designed Second City Training Centre expansion including seven multi-media studios and a lounge. On-site catering is available through Blue Jays Way resto neighbour Wayne Gretzky’s.
Bonus: Pull an entertainment switcheroo with a customized improv workshop that puts your group on stage; gift them with Second City swag.
Capacity: Mainstage Theatre: 300 seated; The John Candy Box Theatre: 60 seated; Training Centre: 200 including 90 in the lounge
The Spot: Artscape Sandbox, just opened at the base of the Cinema Towers in the Entertainment District, offers a clean slate for event creativity.
The Space: There are many ways to event play in 6,000-sq-ft of open concept space. Designed as a dedicated multi-purpose event and performance venue, the room is literally a blank canvas, extremely customizable to purpose whether a holiday celebration, meeting or theatrical production. White walls take on new dimensions and colour thanks to a lighting grid spanning the entire space. Additional feature lighting spotlights the bar area. There’s also a separate lobby plus a green room and kitchenette.
Bonus: Not only can you tap into Artscape’s community roster of entertainment and collaborative artists, but as a not-for-profit organization, the rental revenues help support its cultural programming and services.
Capacity: 200 reception style