Toronto is known for its welcoming attitude (49 percent of the city’s population was born outside of Canada), and that hospitality extends to the tattoo community when Northern Ink Xposure takes over the downtown Hilton June 13 through 15. For the Canadian expo’s 10th anniversary, there’s plenty going on: the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art will host “Art of the Human Canvas,” a show featuring artists such as Bob Tyrrell and Paul Booth, and a wide range of tattooists will be in attendance, including Canadians Paul Oliver and Cory Ferguson. After the convention, hit the galleries of Queen Street West, then swing by The Drake Hotel to check out its site specific installations.
Be sure to stick around for dinner. Executive chef Anthony Rose’s menu features regional dishes like Ontario rabbit stewed in Armagnac and locally raised strip steak with a wild mushroom ragout and black truffle aioli. And don’t think the visual stimulation ends when the sun goes down. You can enjoy live music at the Cameron House, a lounge and gallery in a building adorned with colorful murals and oversized sculptural ants, or head to over-the-top nightclub Circa, which features digital paintings and a room designed by Paul Budnitz, the founder of Kidrobot. Spend the night at the Gladstone Hotel.
Each of its 37 rooms has a different designer, so you can lay your head beneath the woodland mural and antler chandelier of Jenny Francis’s Canadiana Room or slip between the sheets in Andrew Harwood’s glossy, black-and-red Biker Room. Need fresh air? Take a trip to the top of the CN Tower before you head home. Its website still claims it’s the tallest structure in the world, but you can politely (it’s Canada) inform the staff that the Burj Dubai skyscraper now holds that honor. Sorry, Canucks!
Northn Ink xposure
The Drake Hotel, www.thedrakehotel.ca
1150 Queen Street West, 416-531-5042
Cameron House, www.thecameron.com
408 Queen Street West, 416-703-0811
126 John St., 416-979-0044
Gladstone Hotel, www.gladstonehotel.com
1214 Queen Street West, 416-531-4635
CN Tower, www.cntower.ca
301 Front Street West, 416-868-6937