TORONTO — A glance at the Gladstone Hotel’s recent events and activities calendar revealed the following: Adult Colouring. Get School’d Workshops. Australia Day. Gladstone Flea.
This eclectic lineup wasn’t a one-off, since these sorts of creative and unique events are a regular part of the Gladstone’s year-round schedule, and are in keeping with the property’s artsy, bohemian philosophy.
Built more than 125 years ago on Toronto’s Queen Street West, the Gladstone, in 2001, was bought by new owners, renovated — artists from across Canada designed all 37 guestrooms — and relaunched in 2005. Since that time, the hotel has become a pillar of the city’s Queen West arts scene.
“Since launch, the hotel has been presenting events, activities and festivals as a way to bring together art, music and design,” said marketing and communications director Tara McCallum.
Undoubtedly the Gladstone’s highest-profile art-focused event is the annual, curated Come Up to My Room, which showcases the work of new and established artists, designers and collectives from Canada and the U.S., who are invited to provide installations on three of the hotel’s floors. This year’s event, the thirteenth, ran Jan. 21 to 24.
Local artists also design the space (typically, the second-floor ballroom) that hosts larger events such as themed Halloween and New Year’s Eve parties. This past December’s New Year’s Eve bash, for example, featured a Downton Abbey theme replete with tea room and 1920s-style dress code.
Typically, event and activity admission prices aren’t designed as a big revenue generator, so the hotel keeps prices low (tickets for Come Up to My Room, for example, cost $10). Consequently, events attract people from all walks of life, with the majority being in the 25-to-35-year-old demographic representing those involved in arts and culture, said McCallum.
And the events! Held every Thursday since last July in Melody Bar, adult colouring involves the hotel supplying artist-created outlines, along with pencil crayons, crayons and markers. With live music as the backdrop, participants drink wine and colour to their hearts’ content.
December’s holiday season ushered in Gladstone Festivus, “2 Weeks of Non-Denominational Cheer” that included a warm clothing drive that offered, as an incentive, a chance to win a night’s stay at the property. There was 12 Beers of Christmas, held mid-December and featuring an ugly sweater theme. For $25, participants helped themselves to all-you-can-taste samples of microbreweries’ products, followed by DJs, live music and “Shameless Karaoke.” That event sells out very quickly, said McCallum.
For Gladstone Flea, “a curated monthly marketplace without the (thrift store) itch,” the hotel teams up with notable fashion and lifestyle aficionados to jury an organized, handpicked marketplace packed with artist goods, reclaimed vintage, craft, design, jewelry, clothing and more.
In early January, the hotel brought back its Get School’d series for an entire week of daily workshops exploring areas ranging from meditation and yoga to “transformative workouts” and Juicing 101, all designed so participants can be “so fresh and so clean, clean in 2016!”
Held Jan. 26 and spearheaded by the hotel’s Aussie marketing manager, Australia Day sought to draw from the city’s expat community from Down Under. The event featured Australian trivia, Aussie-style meat pies and sausage rolls, and Australian chocolates, as well as $5 pints of beer.
Not to mention the Crochet Workshop…and the Drake vs. Everybody Dance Party…and the Japanese Journal Binding Workshop…