Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Tickets Should I Buy for TIFF?

Recently, in talking to some people who had never been to the festival before, it seemed like it might be a good idea to provide some suggestions as to what types of tickets or ticket packages you might want to buy for TIFF 2012.

If you've never been to the festival before, your best bet might be to just buy a couple of individual tickets once they go on sale to the general public on September 2. I wouldn't worry about trying to figure out how the advance ticketing system works, or buying a membership, or anything like that, as that's just too complicated if you've never been and want to ease into things.

If you've gone that route and want to branch out a bit more, then consider buying one of the TIFF Choice packages. A good choice would be the Contemporary World Cinema package, the Daytime Sampler package, or the Evening & Weekend Sampler package. Once again, you don't have to worry about the advance ticketing process, since TIFF will pick films for you. Just buy the package, and wait for TIFF to tell you what movies you got. The Evening & Weekend Sampler package is the best choice for anyone who works during the day.

Now, if you've done the above a few times and want to start delving deeper into the festival, you can look at the My Choice packages. These are good if you want to see a larger number of films, and/or you want more control over what movies you see, and/or you want to select films before individual tickets go on sale to the general public. If just starting out, your best bets would be the 10-Ticket Pack (you get to pick any combination of films, with up to 4 tickets per screening), or the 6-Premium-Ticket Pack (if you want to see bigger galas with bigger stars).

That's basically the route I took over the years. I'm at the point now where I usually take vacation for the festival and see about 25 films on average (which is not a lot compared to some of the diehards - there's a fairly sizeable contingent of people who see at least 50 films every year).

Feel free to post questions in the comments; I'll be happy to try and answer the best I can (which is a bit tougher this year since they've completely changed the system).


About the TIFF Choice packages, when you order them do you say what days you are free? Or are you expected to have no other commitments during the Festival? As I understand it, they don't allow any ticket exchanges on the TIFF Choice packages.

No, I don't think you can specify what days you're free, and you're right, no exchanges are allowed on TIFF Choice packages. The most you can do is by a package that has screenings on weekdays before 5:01 PM, or evenings/weekends. You're probably best off with a My Choice package or individual tickets.

Can you buy multiple packages because I want to buy the premium sampler and closing night gala and contemporary world cinema packages. Since I will be traveling to Toronto (I am from the states) I also wanted to purchase one of the package sets as well since I intend to stay for the entire duration of the festival

So I believe the breakdown is that you can buy one regular My Choice package, one premium My Choice package, and up to 4 TIFF Choice packages. So the Premium Sampler, Contemporary World Cinema, and Closing Gala all fall in the TIFF Choice category, so there shouldn't be any problem if you want to buy all three. If you then also want to buy a Flex Pack, you could purchase one of those on top of the other three TIFF Choice packages.

How many tickets in a premium sampler pack? Thanks!

I would like to see a couple of films with my 85 year old mother. She has limited mobility...can walk from the taxi to her seat (taking in a few stairs). We would probably buy individual tickets but what would you suggest is my best plan for purchasing tickets. And where to stay...?

If you're going for individual tickets, then just purchase them online on August 31 once they go on sale. It'll be busy first thing at 9:00 AM, but you'll be able to get in eventually. That's usually a bit easier than buying by phone or in person. At least this way you'll know exactly which films you have rather than trying to buy day-of at the box office.

When buying films, check the schedule to figure out which theatre they are at, and leave yourself plenty of time to get between screenings. Some theatres like the Elgin are close to the subway, but others (like the Lightbox or Scotiabank) are several blocks away from the subway. If you plan on taking cabs, probably won't be an issue.

For hotels, ideally you'll want something in downtown as that's where the bulk of the theatres are. Note that a lot of the hotels close to the theatres can be pretty pricey, especially around TIFF.

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My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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