Fall into winter is a busy time for event planners, especially as the holiday party requests begin to flow in. Deciding on where to host always helps ignite the seasonal-planning spirit.
Toronto offers an awesome landscape of event venues, from museums and restaurants to heritage buildings and activity spaces. Here’s an extra special Santa’s list of six new spaces adding some unique and merry options to this year’s holiday-hosting scene:
Where: Miracle Toronto, 146 Ossington Ave.
Vibe: Irreverent. Kitschy. Fun.
The Space: Open Nov. 25 to Dec. 26, 2019 only, this Christmas-themed pop-up is over-the-top outrageous with its wonderland of festive décor. Located this year in a former garage, get set for a tinsel-laden playground dressed in an explosion of dollar-store Christmas novelties, thousands of twinkly lights and beribboned and gift-wrap papered walls. The Miracle concept, which began in New York and spread globally, is run locally by the bar pros at Civil Liberties. In addition to enjoying wickedly good holiday cocktails made by talented mixologists wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, guests can take photos with a twerking Santa and a giant hugging teddy bear. Daytime buyouts are encouraged. Outside catering is permissible.
Perfect Because: It’s a ready-made setting for a rad retro holiday bash, plus $1 from every drink goes to Nellie’s Women’s Shelter. Last year’s Toronto pop-up raised $30,000 for the charity.
Capacity: Approximately 180 guests
Where: Marbl Restaurant, 455 King St. W
Vibe: Classy. Stylish. Upmarket.
The Space: This chic new restaurant at King and Spadina recently saw mega TIFF action, including being the location for the Nordstrom Supper Suite. Gorgeous in black and white marble, from tabletops to pillars to a floor-to-ceiling fireplace, the restaurant is lit by beautiful chandeliers. Exposed brick and wooden beams deliver warmth to the bright, airy room. Banquettes line the peripheral of the main restaurant, but all other furnishings can be removed or reconfigured for events. Consider seating VIPs at the 10-seat chef’s table in front of the open kitchen, or at the circular table in front of the fireplace. Cuisine is Modern American with an updated take on steakhouse classics and smart cocktails.
Perfect Because: Mademoiselle, the downstairs champagne lounge offers sultry digs for private hosting and houses a Moët vending machine and spectacular oversized fridge filled with loads of bubbly.
Capacity: Seats 180 guests; 200 reception-style; Mademoiselle, 120; patio, 80;
Where: The Funhouse, 101 Lisgar St.
Vibe: Eclectic. Carnivalesque. Creative.
The Space: Filled with art, colour, and interactive tech, this is not your average event space. Created by art collective Mondo Forma and Universal Music Canada, it’s 7,500 sq. ft. of experiential extraordinariness emanating throughout three floors of this former Buddhist Temple. Eighteen themed rooms, connected with a kaleidoscope of corridors, stairwells, nooks and crannies, form an art maze filled with multi-sensory experiences curated by over 30 local artists. The rooms are vivid, fantastical design masterpieces, many incorporating hands-on interaction or augmented reality. Explorations lead to the third-floor Underwater Ballroom, the main event space awash in aquatic hues and moving projections of fish and other sea creatures. Full buyouts and a list of preferred caterers are available.
Perfect Because: Just in case you need more than 18 rooms of eye-popping interaction, there are loads of add-on options, including performers, music, tours, workshops, branded projections, and more.
Capacity: 200 guests reception-style in the Underwater Ballroom; 150 seated.
Warm And Welcoming
Where: The Parlour, 642 King St. W
Vibe: Historic. Rustic. Comfortable.
The Space: Tucked down an alleyway, much of this circa 1894 former piano factory has been beautifully preserved including the exposed brick and beams, and accent pieces like the cool grand piano chandelier that hangs above the main lounge. Front-of-house is open and lofty with furnishings and warm wood imbuing an upscale pub feel. Elevated nibblies and shared plates are on the menu in addition to a selection of wood-fired pizza, the house speciality. An indoor courtyard sits back-of-house bringing the outdoors in with lush greenery, and light spilling through the retractable glass roof. There’s also an upstairs lounge overlooking the restaurant, a gorgeous heated patio and an intimate champagne lounge.
Perfect Because: With its multi-level and various areas, there’s loads of room to wander and set up different event activations and entertainment – including champagne sabering.
Capacity: 400 total capacity; 115 seated in the main restaurant; 175 in the upper lounge; 55 in the courtyard lounge; 40 on the patio; 22 in the champagne lounge.
Time To Get Hoppy
Where: Avling Kitchen & Brewery, 1042 Queen St. E
Vibe: Urban. Modern. Local-proud.
The Space: With a name that means “crop or harvest” in Norwegian, this Leslieville brewpub goes above and beyond with its own in-house butchery team, a large rooftop garden growing ingredients for the kitchen, and tapping into local grains, fruits and spices for its brewing process. The interior’s light-filled industrial aesthetic is quite pretty with pink-painted steel girders running along the 20-ft.-ceiling and dove grey walls. A mural by local artist Madison Van Rijn picks up the room’s pastel hues and the blue of the 27-seat circular bar that sits in the middle of the open-concept restaurant. Food is simple, hearty and well-executed. A glass wall overlooks the brewing area, offering the perfect vantage point to watch the action.
Perfect Because: The food and beer experts here are eager to share their knowledge and wares with a guided flight tasting, a brewmaster-led dinner with a beer-paired menu, or, when in bloom, a tour of the rooftop garden.
Capacity: 110 guests reception-style, 85 seated.
Go Sweet And Small
Where: Flipside Donuts Café & Bar, 12 Case Goods Lane
Vibe: Cozy. Cottage-like. Intimate.
The Space: Located in Toronto’s historic Distillery District means this cute space is blessed with iron columns, exposed brick walls, and a stunning 200-year-old wood ceiling featuring massive beams. The venue’s décor is spare and simple, making it a versatile canvas for events. A gorgeous wooden serving counter makes for the perfect bar. Pull a hefty wooden bench and the room’s scattering of rustic tables and chairs into party service. Catering can be arranged, but definite menu-musts are Flipside’s mini donuts, served hot and fresh. There are 15 unique choices, all named after Toronto neighbourhoods, including several savoury ones that would make for excellent cocktail nibblies. Special flavours or custom-themed donuts are also possible.
Perfect Because: Holiday groups can piggyback on the Toronto Christmas Market, which runs November through December in the Distillery District, using Flipside as the gathering spot for a cocktail reception, luncheon or dinner at Flipside.
Capacity: 44 inside; 12 on the patio