As the pregame festivities heat up ahead of the milestone Grey Cup final between the Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders, Vidya Kauri tells you everything you need to know to survive the weekend. Have no fear: If football is not your game, there are options for you, too!
The Stampeders Fan
Where to stay
Most downtown hotels are filling up fast if they're not already sold out. Rates for available rooms range from $100 to about $500 a night. Available suites at the 55-storey Four Seasons Hotel (60 Yorkville Ave.; 416-964-0411) are upward of $1,400 a night. The Yorkville Suite for three adults on the 15th, 16th and 17th floors has three televisions, including one hidden inside the bathroom mirror, as well as a king-sized bed, a pull-out bed, a master bathroom and guest bathroom, a dining room and a living room. About 70 members of the Calgary Grey Cup committee are staying at the Holiday Inn (30 Carlton St.; 416-977-6655) where rooms are going for about $500 a night. On Thursday, Tourism Toronto still had a number of cheaper ticket-hotel combination packages available. Shared accommodations in hostels are also still available for about $40 a night.
That down-home feeling
Let's face it, it's not easy being on someone else's turf. However, there are some events where you will be among kindred spirits, like the Calgary Grey Cup committee's free pancake breakfast. Sixty volunteers will cook up 500 pounds of pancake batter to feed 5,000 people a day at Nathan Phillips Square on Friday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A hundred pounds of good ol' Alberta butter from Calgary dairy cows will be available as a topping. There will also be a two-day party at the Stamps House in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre with live country music, line dancing and Calgary Stampeder Outrider performances.
Western decor pays off
Craig Wilcox, a manager at the Lone Star Texas Grill (200 Front St. W.; 416-408-4064), said he expects the bar will be hopping with Stamps fans. He has already seen a few customers from Saskatchewan and Alberta who are in town for the Grey Cup festivities this week. The restaurant, which is not taking reservations for Sunday night, can accommodate about 400 people.
The Argos Fan
Don't drive in
Toronto police are expecting major traffic disruptions throughout the weekend. From Friday at 7 p.m. to Monday at 5 a.m., the following road closures will be in effect: Front Street from University Avenue to John Street, John Street from Wellington Street to Front Street and Simcoe Street from Wellington Street to Station Street. There will be a rolling lane closure to facilitate the Sun Life Grey Cup Fan March starting at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday at the University of Toronto Varsity Stadium by Bloor Street and Devonshire Place.
The Toronto Transit Commission is stepping up subway service on the Yonge-University-Spadina line and the Bloor-Danforth line for game day. Because space is restricted at Union Station, TTC staff suggest getting off at St. Andrew's and then walking to the Rogers Centre.
GO Transit will also be running extra trains on all its lines Sunday. Visit www.gotransit.com or call 1-888-GET ON GO (438-6646) for the game train schedules.
How to avoid getting arrested
Behave yourself. The Calgary Stampeders' Marty isn't the only horse parading through town. The Toronto Police Mounted Unit, along with officers on bicycles, on foot and in cruisers, will be in and around the Rogers Centre. Police will be checking for impaired drivers throughout the city. They are also urging the public to be wary of buying tickets from unknown agents or agencies. Follow @TorontoPolice and #100GC on Twitter to receive ongoing updates.
Preparty (family friendly)
Head to the Argos all-ages party. Celebrate 100 years of the Canadian Football League and the Double Blue Argos with the players and live karaoke (yes, you could be singing with your favourite Argos player) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Begin your holiday celebrations now. Many nearby cities and towns are lighting up their streets this weekend with festivals including: the CAA Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls; the Santa Claus Parade of Lights in Elora; Santa's Parade of Lights in Stratford; the Streetsville Tree Lighting in Mississauga; and Christmas in the Village in Oakville. If you missed Toronto's Santa Claus parade, you can catch another in Caledonia or Mississauga. Head to a bed-and-breakfast and enjoy activities like horse-and-buggy rides, skating and sitting on Santa's lap.
Concerts, theatre and other distractions
If you must stay in town, The Who plays from their double album Quadrophenia at the Air Canada Centre on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Indie-rockers Metric play the ACC on Saturday at 8 p.m. As well, this weekend will be the last time this season to catch the National Ballet's adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The last Sunday matinee show is sold out, but on Thursday tickets were still available for the Friday and Saturday shows at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. The One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale features hand-crafted ceramics, furniture, clothing and gift-making workshops at the Direct Energy Centre at 100 Princes' Blvd.
Be a hermit
This is probably the only way to shun the Grey Cup completely. Stock up on food, drinks and medical supplies to last you until Monday morning. Avoid speaking to your colleagues on Friday. Head straight home after work, and do not tune into radio or television; tune out social media. Spend a weekend ordering in from your favourite restaurant or cooking a recipe you've never tried before. Watch a movie marathon or read a novel, or three.