Newbie Blanche: a 2013 guide

Garden Tower by Tadashi Kawamata (Natalie Chu/Ryersonian Staff)

Garden Tower by Tadashi Kawamata (Natalie Chu/Ryersonian Staff)

Your first all-nighter of the semester doesn’t need to be for schoolwork.

The Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, happening Oct. 5, promises a full night of contemporary art and you won’t need to stray far from Ryerson’s gates to find it. A dedicated Nuit Blanche participant will need to fill the 12 hours with some non-campus destinations, however.

Everything kicks off at sunset this Saturday (6:51 p.m. to be precise) and goes till the sun comes up Sunday morning.

The Ryersonian has created a five-phase guide to the sleepless night.

Pre 6 p.m. – Phase 1: Preparation

Consider a quiet Saturday afternoon of naps and water. You’ll need energy and hydration to make it through the night.Make your way to the Arts and Letters Club opposite Ryerson campus at 14 Elm St. where you’ll have a fitting start to the evening. Plan to come before the 6:51 p.m. kickoff to ensure your Nuit Blanche starts on schedule.

6:51 p.m. – Phase 2: Blank Slate

What better way to start your Nuit Blanche than with a blank slate? That’s why we’ve chosen Tabula Rasa for Phase 2, an interactive performance exploring human interaction. Tweet your photos and reactions to @TheRyersonian to share the experience with others on campus.
Next, make your way west down Elm Street to University Avenue for some clowning around.

8 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Phase 3: The Parade

The X Static Clown Factory takes over a section of University Avenue for the PARADE, featuring — you guessed it — clowns. The family friendly Clown Factory includes a float, lights, sounds and plenty of balloons. The clown factory is just one part of the University Avenue parade, so keep walking down the street to explore more stationary parade floats.

Make your first stop at Armoury Street and University Avenue next to the Paper Orbs installation. The massive origami sculpture will be fully intact at the start of the night, but as the hours go by, the pieces will come apart to be worn by visitors as paper helmets. Grab yours and take a break at one of the many food trucks on Armoury Street — mini donuts and cupcakes included. Enjoy your cupcakes and donuts at the Music Box installation that mirrors the frenzy of Nuit Blanche with its cacophony of sound. Explore the corner of University Avenue and Queen Street before making your way to Nathan Phillips Square for some of the festival’s most anticipated installations.

11 p.m. to 2 a.m. – Phase 4: The Heart

City hall and Nathan Phillips Square have been transformed from a political beehive to the pulsing heart of contemporary culture. You’ll need to spend a good portion of your night here.
The must-see exhibit of Nuit Blanche is by the world-renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Weiwei puts his own spin on Toronto’s bike culture with Forever Bicycles, an eye-popping contraption featuring more than 3,000 interconnected white bicycles.

If you need to rest your feet, grab some popcorn and head to city hall’s council chambers at 11 p.m. or 1 a.m. Always good for some popcorn-worthy entertainment, the chambers will be home to less bickering tonight. Screenings of the acclaimed documentary, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, tell the story of the Forever Bicycles artist.

2 a.m. to 6 a.m. – Phase 5: Last Call

Now that most Toronto bars and nightclubs have emptied, expect the night to take on a new vibe. Look back on the night with a series of reflective, thoughtful exhibits on humanity. Head down Bay Street and stop along Adelaide, Richmond and King Streets for exhibits examining the intersection of science and the natural world.

7:21 a.m. – The End 

It all started with a sunset at 6:51 p.m., so what better way than ending Nuit Blanche with a sunrise at 7:21 a.m.? For the best view, take the 501 streetcar down King Street to Roncesvalles Avenue and walk to the Sunnyside Boardwalk and the Humber Bay Arch Bridge.


Looking to keep your Nuit Blanche experience close to campus? Roll over the letters to preview some installations happening near Ryerson:

Graphic by Josh Kolm. Installation images and descriptions courtesy of

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on October 2, 2013.

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