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How To Attend The 2021 Toronto International Film Festival

How To Attend The 2021 Toronto International Film Festival

Each year, Toronto welcomes Hollywood and beyond with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). One of the world’s most-prestigious film festivals, TIFF also happens to be one of the most-accessible for the general public to attend. With visitors from around the world arriving in Toronto for the festival, UP Express can help get you downtown and close to the cinematic action whether it’s your first film festival or your fiftieth! Here are our insider tips to enjoy the ultimate TIFF experience in 2021.

Where To Stay In Toronto During TIFF

Heading to Toronto for TIFF? You’ll want to stay downtown in the heart of the action. UP Express can get you from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Union Station in downtown Toronto in just 25 minutes. Welcoming thousands of festival-goers from around the world and close to home every year, you’ll want to start planning your film festival travels early as accommodations book well in advance. Look for lodgings based around King Street West, Yonge-Dundas Square and Union Station to be within walking distance to TIFF venues and hot spots.
Photo credit: Getty Wire Image for TIFF by George Pimentel (Pre-COVID-19)

How To Buy Tickets To TIFF

Whether you want to see one film, a dozen, or more, buying public tickets to attend TIFF has never been easier! Film fans can buy both packages of TIFF digital tickets – for three, five, ten, or twenty films – and single digital and in-person tickets on TIFF’s website. Convenient ticket packages are a great way to check out a number of films and get a discount off of the single ticket price. While you don’t need to be a year-round TIFF member to get access to tickets, members get first-dibs when it comes to selecting screening times for films. Visit for tickets and safety protocols, including mask requirements.
Photo credit: Getty Wire Image for TIFF by George Pimentel (Pre-COVID-19)

TIFF 2021 Format: Digital & Live Events

For 2021, the TIFF format will operate under a hybrid virtual and physical model offering both digital online screenings and in-person cinema and drive-in experiences, subject to provincial COVID-19 regulations. Sorry international folks, all virtual 2021 TIFF films are geoblocked to Canada-only, but In Conversation With... talks and interactive Q&A sessions with actors and creators will be hosted on TIFF Bell Digital Talks online, is available worldwide.

How To Choose TIFF Film Screenings

World cinema, major Hollywood fare, hidden indie gems, midnight horror film screenings, and so much more are all a part of this major film festival. After selecting a ticket package, it’s time to decide what to see! The TIFF film screening schedule is available online, with ticket package purchasers redeeming their selections first, followed by single ticket sales.

When planning your day at TIFF, note in-person screenings begin at a set time and date and come with a reserved seat. All virtual screenings have a four-hour window of time in which you must start the film – but don’t miss out! When the time window has expired, you won’t be able to hit “play” on the movie.

Pro tip: Want to see your favourite star talk about their new movie? Many stars attend the first scheduled TIFF screening of a film and will participate in a Q&A following the movie. Buy a ticket to the screening and get a chance to hear your favourite actors and directors discuss their film.
Photo credit: Connie Tsang (Pre-COVID-19)

Get Tickets To Last Minute TIFF Film Screenings

Don’t worry if you haven’t planned your TIFF visit in advance! There are always ways to see screenings that appear to be sold out or “off-sale”. While there are no “rush tickets” available at venue box offices in 2021, each morning during the festival same-day tickets become available online for a number of in- person and digital film screenings, subject to capacity limits. It’s a great way to catch a film!
Photo credit: Wire Image_Getty for TIFF (Pre-COVID-19)

Downtown King Street West Is Festival Central

The heart of TIFF is King Street West and the festival’s year-round home, TIFF Bell Lightbox, a complex featuring cinemas, two sit-down restaurants, a cocktail bar and lounge, grab-and-go counter, gift shop and film reference library. Though postponed due to COVID regulations in 2021, King Street West transforms into the pedestrian-only Festival Street with live events, food trucks, and dining space. Although TIFF might not be taking over the street this year, in-person film screenings will happen at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Princess Of Wales Theatre, and Roy Thomson Hall, all located along busy King Street West.

Leave the car at home and let UP Express take parking worries and traffic out of the equation as you head to your screening. A cultural and shopping destination no matter the time of year, King Street West is a short walk from UP Express Union Station and can also be reached by subway, just one stop north.
Photo credit: Connie Tsang (Pre-COVID-19)

Where To Spot Celebs During TIFF

Photo credit: Jag Gundu (Pre-COVID-19)
It’s no secret stars love Toronto! And who can blame them? With world class restaurants and bars, you might sneak a peek at celebs like George Clooney, who stopped in for a burger at BOSK at the chic Shangri-La Hotel or Jessica Chastain, who visited the upscale Italian Cibo Wine Bar during their TIFF stops. Famous faces including Robert Downey Jr. and Al Pacino have been known to dine at superstar celeb chef David Chang’s Toronto outpost of his Momofuku chain, while King Street West hotpot Patria has attracted everyone from Sandra Bullock to Daniel Radcliffe. Proving even the famous appreciate a good slice of pizza and with multiple locations across the city, Terroni has been a celeb favourite place for Toronto-resident Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon.

Note: Restaurant reservations during TIFF are recommended and some hot spots may be closed for private events so it’s always best to check in advance before heading out.
Photo credit: Getty Wire Image for TIFF by George Pimentel (Pre-COVID-19)
For the ultimate festival experience, rely on UP Express’ reliable, convenient, and speedy 25-minute ride from Pearson Airport to Union Station in downtown Toronto. Check schedules for the most up-to-date timetables to get to your movie screening on time.