Party wise, Grey Cup weekend usually looks pretty familiar from one year to the next, with a couple of variations. I’ve managed to sample them all over the course of my previous 13 pilgrimages. Some are like your drinking buddy, they never let you down. Others are like your day job, only tolerable when drunk.
How’s a casual cupper to know?
I will teach you!
1. Atlantic Schooners DownEast Kitchen Party (5/5) $20
From 3pm (F) / noon (S) until 1am at the Shaw Conference Centre – Hall D
This was amazing at 101, a slight disappointment at 102, great fun again at 103, a total disaster at 104 (venue) and full strength at 105 (above)! They’ve co-located themselves with the other parties so you have no excuse to miss them. This is the most team diverse party of the weekend. Like the others, Saturday will be the busiest but Friday should be shaking too.
Kiss the cod and get screeched in (seriously)! Also, tasty lobster rolls made fresh just for Grey Cup!
2. Spirit of Edmonton (4/5) $10
From 2pm until 2am at The Westin
A must visit every year. I’ve docked them a point because 105 was a bit of a disappointment due to the venue (a bar). However, they’re going back to their roots this year — a hotel. It’s a great fall back anytime other parties go bust. Entrance is easy on Thursday and Friday nights but there may be a significant line Saturday.
Anyone who’s anyone stop’s here at last once.
3. Touchdown Manitoba (5/5 for Bomber fans 4/5 for everyone else) $20
From noon until 5pm (F) at the Shaw Conference Centre – Hall C
It’s runs once, for five hours, so an easy miss if you don’t plan for it. TD MB has always been a well run event. Obviously, there’ll be a lot of blue jerseys but those sporting others are always treated well. Last year Coach O’Shea spent 30 minutes chatting at our table. The Grey Cup made an appearance as well! Everyone who wanted got their picture taken with it.
There’s a excellent silent auction plus a table of cold cuts, pickles and salads, so don’t worry about lunch. However, as per Manitoba tradition, the place empties out as soon as the prizes are drawn so don’t show up too late!
This has sold out years previous so do buy tickets in advance.
4. Riderville (5/5 for Rider fans, 2/5 for everyone else) $10
From noon until 2am (F, S) at Shaw Conference Centre – Salons 8-12
Riderville is never empty but it’s also the least team diverse of all the parties. A great time if you’re green, not so much if you’re blue. To be honest I haven’t gone the past few years since they’re not very hospitable to my kind. Unless you drive a tractor to work, you should be checking out Spirit of Edmonton or the Schooner’s DownEast Kitchen Party first.
5. Rnation Party – RedBlacks (3/5) $free?
From 6pm until 10pm (F, S) at Revel Bistro & Bar
Thanks to a top ten hangover I didn’t make it to RNation at 105. This year’s edition looks to be hosted inside a bar and that’s usually not a good recipe. I’ve heard good things about players showing up from others in past years though. If you’re not whatever a RedBlack is then you can probably do better.
6. The Shipyard – Argonauts (3/5) FREE!
From 6pm until 1am (S) at Shaw Conference Centre – Salons 3+4
On the road, the Argos shaker can be as pathetic as their attendance at home. When they do it inside a convention centre it’s usually done well. A must for Argos fans, but maybe not for anyone else. There are better parties on at the same time. That said, it’s location and price make it very low risk. Sometimes they have a half decent band. I’ll probably give it a poke and update the review.
7. Lion’s Den (3/5) $10
From 3pm until 1am (F, S) at Shaw Conference Centre – Riverview Room
I have no idea why, but I meet more players/alumni here than anywhere else. That reason alone makes this worth checking out if you haven’t before. It’s also inside the conference centre and probably worth a look.
8. TigerTown (?/5) FREE?
Various – Pub Crawl, see here
I have no idea. It was new last year and I had other places to be. If someone can review please leave a comment.
9. Bomber House (2/5) FREE?
From 8pm until 2am ( F, S) at Hudsons 109 Street
This is all I could find about it on the interwebs:
Come pary at the Bomber House Fan Fest at this year’s Grey Cup Festival!
Live bands, DJs, beer gardens, performances from the Blue Bombers Cheer Team, alumni appearances, and the loudest fans in the CFL!
That is literally exactly the same text from Grey Cup 105 (kinda like this blog). Sounds like a pub with Bomber fans. Might be a good place to grab dinner if you’re from Winnipeg.
Don’t confuse this with Touchdown Manitoba (above), it’s not the same shindig!
10. Stamps House (2/5) $10
From noon until 12am (F, S) at Fairmont Hotel MacDonald – Empire Ballroom
The past few years they’ve just dressed up a bar… I’m starting to think the Grey Cup Festival actually puts these on and not the teams themselves (see Bomber House above). However, it’ll be in a hotel ballroom so maybe someone’s put some effort into this year’s edition.
11. Montreal (1/5) $20
From 7pm until 10pm (S) at Anthem
Official description from Anthem’s website:
Your annual buddy trip is now (somewhat) planned, your seats for the Grey Cup in Edmonton are reserved, hotel room is booked… All that’s missing is your ticket for the Montreal Huddle hosted by the Alouettes Cheerleaders!
Whether you’re a fan of the Alouettes or our rivals, you are more than welcome to come party with us (everybody knows how friendly Montrealers are)!
$20 for three hours? Avoid like Coors Light.
Other Grey Cup Parties
Coors Light Concert Series (2/5) $75/night
From 8:00pm until 11am (F/S) at Shaw Conference Centre
My experience with these has been that they are WAY overpriced and sometimes completely dead. They are only worth considering if you like the bands. At 100 they were dead, though I still had amazing time shooting pool with some former Bombers in the VIP section after they invited me inside. Evidently they were bored too. You should spend the $75 on beer somewhere else.
Tailgate Parties (1/5) $75-125?
From noon until 4pm (Game Day) at Commonwealth
Pot’s legal now so I guess that’s why the Edmonton Grey Cup Committee thinks it can charge $75 for an outdoor tail gate party with overpriced beer and shitty bands. I’m actually upset as I type this. I’ll be somewhere else unless I land a free ticket.
Shaw CFL Player Awards (2/5) $300
From 6pm until 2am (Th) at the Shaw Center
Hahaha, don’t. You can get cover and drinks at all the other parties all weekend for three bills. The players and TV personalities all bug out as soon as they can anyhow. Also, it’s usually a black tie affair, meaning no colourful fans. What’s the point then?
Anything with VIP in it (unranked)
Don’t pay for these unless you’re in the 1%. They might be OK but certainly not worth the money. Even if you are independently wealthy, you want to be hanging out with us plebs at Grey Cup anyhow.
Check greycupfestival.ca for the most up to date information on all the official parties and events.