Not all team parties were created equal. A couple are dependable hits, others are sure misses. Over the years I’ve been to them all but not all of them every year and they do evolve. I’ve ranked them below out of five based on my own experiences, your mileage may vary. Rant against me in the comments or send an email.
Spirit of Edmonton (5/5) FREE
From 4pm (Th) / 2pm (F, S) until 1am at the Sheraton Centre
Hands down the best party! Great conversations are a certainty and easy access to drinks assured. It’s free, the most fan diverse and mandatory for 2016. You can always fall back on this if you’re stuck at a party gone bust. Entrance is easy on Thursday and Friday nights but there will be a significant line Saturday.
Touchdown Manitoba (5/5 for Bomber fans 4/5 for everyone else) $25
From noon until 5pm (F) at Real Sports
This only runs from 12-5pm on Friday so don’t sleep in too long. TD MB is a very well run show. Players will be here so keep an eye out. Like every Manitoba social, cold cuts will be served about half way through. They go quick though so be on the ball! There’s also a really kick ass silent auction. As per Manitoba tradition, as soon as the prizes come off the table, the place empties out so you’ll know when to leave.
This has sold out before hand in the past so do buy tickets in advance.
Atlantic Schooners DownEast Kitchen Party (4/5) $20
From 5pm (Th) / 3pm (F) / noon (S) until 2am at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre
This was great at 101 in Regina, a slight disappointment at 102 but great fun again at 103. It’s also one of the more diversified parties of the weekend. Save your $20 for Saturday night as the others can be a bit slow and you won’t spend all evening here. Get screeched in! Also, lobster rolls!
Riderville (5/5 for Rider fans, 3/5 for everyone else) $20
From 5pm (Th) / 3pm (F) / noon (S) until 1am at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre
Riderville is hardly ever empty but also the least diverse group of all the events. This is the biggest team party and there are a LOT of Saskatchewan ex-pats now living in Toronto so it should have a crowd. Check it out if you haven’t before.
The Shipyard (Argos) (4/5) FREE
From 6pm until 1am (F, S) at Metro Toronto Convention Centre
On the road, the Argos party is as pathetic as their attendance. At 95 and 100 this was a great time, plus this year it’s FREE! New management is desperately trying to attract the locals so I expect this be well thought out. All signs point to party, see you here both nights!
Lion’s Den (3/5)
From 4pm until 10pm (F, S) $10 at Early Mercy
Historically they’ve booked a larger venue than needed so this year they’ve moved from the Convention Centre to a bar on King West. I’ve met lots of players here in the VIP section previously. I dunno if I’ll make it here this Grey Cup and it should be low on your list as well unless you’re a Lion’s fan.
Stamps House (2/5) $20
From noon until 12am (F, S) at the Bottom Line
Uh pay $20 to get into a bar on Front Street? No thanks. Skip this unless you’re a stamps fan. If you’re going to a bar on Front, it should be the Loose Moose, it’s an institution (and there’s no cover).
TigerTown (2/5) FREE
From 3pm (F) / 11am (S) until 1am at Shoeless Joe’s
At 102 half the place was roped off for a private party for the Box J Boys. What’s the point of going to the Cats’ party if you can’t drink with the Box J Boys? I also think the choice of venue is funny since it’s always been a mind bending struggle to get Shoeless Joe’s to put a CFL game on TV. However it’s free, I’ll be checking it out this year.
Rnation Party – Ottawa (1/5) FREE
From 1pm until 6pm (S) at Jack Astor’s
Ottawa hasn’t really figured it out yet. You should have eaten at the Calgary Pancake Breakfast but if you missed that I suppose you could dine here and catch the party at the same time. I have to assume many RedBlacks will show up to rally their travelling fans. It might actually be hard to get in.
Montreal (0/5) FREE
From 4pm until 8pm (S) at Metropolitan United Church
From the Grey Cup Festival Website:
Take in the official Montreal Tailgate Party! Food and hot beverages will be served outside. Art exhibit and live concert will be held in the church. No admission fee, however, voluntary contributions will be donated to the Metropolitan United Church.
Uh, well you know how I feel about beer, skip!
Other Grey Cup Parties
Budweiser Gameday Fan Zone (4/5) $10
From noon until 5pm (Game Day) at the Enercare Centre
This is the official pre-game party and it looks to be indoors. I’m expecting this to be a lot like Edmonton at 98, which was a pretty good way to kick the day off!
Grey Cup Concert Series (3/5) $30/night
From 7:30pm until 11pm (F/S) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre
My experience with these has been that they are WAY overpriced at $50 per night. However, this year they are much more reasonable priced at $30/night or $50 for a two days pass. They might be worth considering. At 95 these were rocking, at 100 they were dead, though I still had amazing time playing pool with some former Bombers in the VIP section after being invited in.
I have no clue which version we’ll get this year but it might be worth a shot.
Nissan Tital Tailgate (3/5) $40 to park (probably free to enter)
From noon until 5pm (Game Day) at Ontario Place – Parking Lot 2
I wouldn’t bother, even if you’re driving to the game. I did this during the regular season and it was just OK. You’re better off heading to the Fan Zone where everyone else will be.
Shaw CFL Player Awards (2/5) $30
From 7pm until 1am (Th) at the Art Gallery of Ontario
I paid $80 for this in Winnipeg and it was a huge bust for the price. It was very corporate and no one stayed long. There isn’t much else to do Thursday except for Spirit of Edmonton. I’m tempted to give it another shot for $30.
CFL Fans Fight Cancer (unranked) $free?
From 11am until 2pm (S) at the Shoeless Joe’s
According their press release:
This year our MC is Joe Eppele. He is a retired Toronto Argonaut Offensive Line man. We have tons of prizing for our raffle, a silent auction and 50/50 raffle as well. We will have guest appearances by the Toronto Argonotes, the Saskatchewan Roughrider Pep Band as well as other CFL alumni.
50/50 and a silent auction? Sounds good to me! This is running in the same venue as the Cats’ party so you might say two birds, one stone?
Anything with VIP in it (unranked)
Don’t pay for these unless you’re in the 1%. They’re probably alright but certainly not worth the money, you want to be hanging out with us plebs at Grey Cup anyhow.
Check http://www.greycupfestival.ca for the most up to date information on all the official parties and events.