Guide to Nuit Blanche

The Nuit Blanche 2016 “Death of the Sun” installation, which resembles a large orb glowing pale yellow over the crowd at Nathan Phillips Square.

Photo credit: Destination Toronto
Location: Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto

In Toronto, over 100 contemporary artists exhibit their work every year in various places around the city. Nuit Blanche lasts all night from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., so visitors can experience the full wonder and dazzling beauty of the art installations glowing under the night sky. The exact date of Nuit Blanche Toronto 2022 has yet to be announced.

With so much art to see during this year’s 16th edition of Nuit Blanche, planning for your night out can be overwhelming. Here are some tips for planning your trip to Nuit Blanche.

Take the Transit to Nuit Blanche

Many of the art exhibits in Nuit Blanche are located in downtown Toronto, which is easily accessible through Toronto’s public transit. Take the TTC or GO Transit to Union Station — most of the subway, streetcars and trains run overnight on the night of Nuit Blanche. If you’re going to be driving, plan ahead as several roads will be closed in preparation for Nuit Blanche. Additionally, many parking spaces in Toronto require payment. Check out the Green P website for more information on parking lots around downtown Toronto.

In addition to downtown Toronto, Nuit Blanche has expanded to include Scarborough locations such as the Scarborough Civic Centre and Scarborough Town Centre.

Get Ready For Nuit Blanche

Whether you take the transit or drive, you’ll be doing a lot of walking around to see all the art. 

Here are a few tips on preparing for your night out at Nuit Blanche:

  • Wear comfortable shoes! With plenty of walking to do, the last thing you want is aching feet.
  • Dress for the weather. Fall weather in Ontario can be unpredictable. Check the weather forecast in advance, wear an extra layer of warm clothing for the cooler night-time temperatures and bring an umbrella in case it rains.
  • Save a map of the exhibits on your phone, or keep a list of all their locations on hand. This will help you in planning your trip to Nuit Blanche, as you’ll know the best route for visiting all the exhibits you want to see. It’s also a great resource to have with you if you’re unfamiliar with Toronto.

Observe All the Art at Nuit Blanche

Of course, the main event at Nuit Blanche is all the spectacular art located in multiple areas around Toronto. From traditional art to more contemporary installations, you’ll find all kinds of art at Nuit Blanche.

Here are some examples of the art that’s been featured in past Nuit Blanche events in Toronto:

  • Death of the Sun: This massive installation represents the sun as it progresses through its life cycle. It was conceptualised by Director X, a legendary Toronto artist and music video creator, who wanted to convey how small the earth is in the grand scheme of things and portray the death of the sun that sustains us. 
  • Forever Bicycles: Created by renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, “Forever Bicycles” consisted of 3,144 interconnected bicycles that formed a towering three-dimensional structure. The large number of bicycles and points of view created a shifting labyrinth effect that visually represented the changing social environment in China and around the globe. 
  • Where Are We Now?: This impressive art exhibit by illustrator Alexis Eke was displayed in the Scarborough Town Centre. Contemporary illustrations of Black women lined the walls and barriers of the mall, with the purpose of highlighting Black female representation in formal art spaces and inviting Black youth to believe in positive times ahead.
  • Peace to the Past, Reach for the Future: To celebrate the Toronto Raptors’ 25th anniversary and their NBA Championship victory in 2019, Esmaa Mohamoud and Bryan Espiritu created this 5.5 metre (18 feet) sculpture of two hands outstretched towards the sky. The two artists wanted to both honour the Raptors’ past successes, imagine their bright future and celebrate the diverse communities that support them.

Pro Tip: Once the complete list of art exhibits and their locations are revealed, it’s helpful to map out the best route with everything you want to see while planning your trip to Nuit Blanche.

Nuit Blanche Toronto 2022 will be the closing event of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021—2022. Check out the full list of this year’s ArtworxTO art projects and their locations to discover more exciting public art created by diverse artists in the Toronto area.

Find Great Places to Eat During Nuit Blanche

There’s so much amazing art to see during Nuit Blanche, and getting to it all will take time. You’ll likely want to grab something to eat and drink along the way. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of places nearby where you can stop by for a bite even during the late-night hours.

Here are some places where you can find good food during Nuit Blanche:

  • Coffee Shops: Need caffeine to stay awake? Many popular coffee shop chains such as Starbucks, Tim Hortons and McDonald’s are open 24/7 and can be found in almost every neighbourhood in Toronto. They feature various menu items like coffee, doughnuts, sandwiches and other quick and affordable snacks.
  • 7West: For a heartier meal, 7West on Charles Street serves everything from brunch food like bagels, French toast and eggs Benedict, to more traditional dining food like pizza, lasagne and grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Fran’s Restaurant: This popular diner on Victoria Street (located just a short walk away from the Eaton Centre) opened in Toronto over 80 years ago and has fed thousands of people over the years, including famous pianist Glenn Gould. It continues to serve guests today with a wide range of breakfast foods such as scrambled eggs, waffles, pancakes and scones.
  • The Perfect Chinese Restaurant: If you’re visiting the Nuit Blanche exhibits in Scarborough, The Perfect Chinese Restaurant is, as its name suggests, the perfect place to eat. With a menu filled with popular Chinese dishes like congee, spring rolls, dumpling, noodles and fried rice, you’re sure to find something delicious to eat no matter what time it is.

Know the Locations of All the Nuit Blanche Event Centres

Need to take a break or find a place to stop for a minor emergency? Nuit Blanche has several event centres located around the city, where visitors have access to maps, food vendors, washrooms and first-aid services provided by Toronto Paramedic Services.

These are the locations of the Nuit Blanche Event Centres in Toronto:

Be sure to note where the nearest event centre is when planning your trip to Nuit Blanche.

Listen to Nuit Talks and Nuit Podcasts

Meet the people behind the Nuit Blanche exhibitions by participating in Nuit Talks. These free, 60-minute webinars offer in-depth discussions with Nuit Blanche artists, scholars and creators. The conversations are centred around relevant issues such as public space and art, access, opportunity, land, geopolitics and sustainability.

Can’t attend the Nuit Talks? Check out the online Nuit Podcasts “Belonging to Place”, hosted by artistic director Dr. Julia Nagam. It features conversations with artists, cultural producers and scholars, all centred around various geographic themes and how they relate to artistic practices. These can be listened to at any time, whether you’re on the go or staying at home.

Stay tuned for the reveal of the 2022 Nuit Talks topics and check for up-to-date information when planning your trip to Nuit Blanche. You can also keep up with all the conversations about Nuit Blanche on social media by tracking #nbTO22 and following the official Nuit Blanche Instagram and Twitter accounts.

If you love Nuit Blanche, you may also be interested in similar experiences such as the Distillery District, the Clarksburg Arts Tour, the Shaw Festival or one of Ontario’s many Festival of Lights.

Last updated: June 23, 2022

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