The Nuit Blanche Survival Guide for Condo-Dwellers

Nuit Blanche

Nuit Blanche is just around the corner: This weekend, thousands of your fellow citizens will hit the streets to see cutting-edge installation art, visit galleries, take a nip from those absolutely innocent bottles in absolutely innocent brown bags, or just glory in the simple pleasure of walking down the middle of the street.

Whether you’re an art aficionado, a party-hopper, or someone who’s quite happily planning to stay at home, here’s your guide to getting through Toronto’s coolest all-night party and landing easy when the sun rises on Sunday morning.

If you’re heading out for the exhibits…

Cook yourself a good meal first.  Most of Toronto’s condo complexes are prime locations for art-watching at Nuit Blanche, and it’s the easiest thing in the world to just step out the door and get started.  But that also means your local will likely be busier than usual, as traffic from other parts of the city or the 905 ramps up for the event.  Have your crew over, eat at home, and then get started on a full stomach—you’ll be glad you did three hours in, when everyone else is lining up for snacks and you’re still sailing smooth.

Plan ahead.  Know what you want to see, and what’s a good route to get between the exhibits that look interesting!  While the wander is a great way to take in Nuit Blanche, it’s one that’s gotten harder as the crowds increase year after year.  Picking a good starting point is pretty important if there are installations you absolutely want to see.

Bring provisions.  One of my most infamous Nuit Blanche experiences was with a then-friend in the reserves, who showed up with a camelbak full of premixed Gin and Tonic.  These are not the kind of provisions I’m talking about.

If you’re planning on doing the long haul—or even think you have some substantial walking ahead of you—tuck some dried fruit, protein snacks, and a water bottle in your bag.  They’re light, and they’ll keep you still in the mood for fun as the night goes on and your stomach grows opinions.

Don’t forget the renegade exhibits.  Like any large-scale creative event, sometimes the best exhibits are the ones that the jury didn’t actually select.  The University of Toronto’s Trinity College and the annual Renegade Parade are always hits, and the second’s Harry Potter-themed this year, so you can bust out your Halloween threads early.

Know your limits.  This applies to drinking—nobody, and I mean nobody, likes the guy who’s puking on people’s shoes on Queen West at two in the morning—but it also applies to fatigue and attention.  If your little trip out starts to feel like mandatory fun, there’s no reason to keep going.  Hang out as long as you’re enjoying yourself, and when you’re not, head home and keep your overall night a good one.

Tip well.  Many of the cafes and businesses open late on Saturday night are dealing with massive amounts of people—not all of them pleasant or sober enough to know the difference—and feeling the stress of that volume of service.  If you pick up a coffee, a snack, or need to use a washroom, make sure you tip considerately and well.  Everyone there is giving up their own fun for yours, and they’ve got a long night ahead of them.

Remember a sense of adventure.  If you find a suspicious sign that says, “Art this way”?  It could be entirely worthwhile to follow it.  (I mean, it also could be murder, and we advise you to not get killed, but it’s worked out for me every time.)  Some of the most wonderful, memorable pieces at every Nuit Blanche are a little off the beaten path: In tiny galleries, in the back rooms of the Gladstone Hotel, or at the fringes of the exhibit neighborhoods.

Do a little exploring.  The best experiences you have won’t be the ones with a crowd, and the sense of discovery is part of the joy of a good Nuit Blanche.

If you’re keeping it real at home…

Stock up first.  If you’ve got a cozy night at home planned, with friends, a movie, a book, or your bathtub, it’s worthwhile to get your supplies well before the night begins.  Downtown fills up extremely fast once the exhibits go up and the crowds let loose, and navigating your way up Yonge or Spadina can be an exercise in remembering your own insignificance in the universe.  Pick up your snacks, drinks, or fun well in advance, and you’ll kiss those lines goodbye.

Give your concierge a heads up on guests.  This is a busy night in the downtown core, and if you’re having people over for your own counterprogrammed do, it’s considerate to let the desk know you’re expecting them.  There will be a lot of people roaming the city, which means extra vigilance down in your lobby Saturday night, and knowing you’re expecting those friends will help your concierge and security team out.

Be patient about noise.  There’s likely to be noise, especially if you live near an exhibit area—and a lot of condo-dwellers do.  People in the streets, or your neighbours getting in late, will be a little prone to chatter.  While it can be somewhat irritating, it is one night a year, and it’s worthwhile to be forgiving.  If you’re a light sleeper, it might also be worthwhile to snag a pair of earplugs.  If you don’t need them, great, but if you do, you’ll thank Past Self for the wise investment.

Have a great night!

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