With the Grey Cup, the Montreal Alouettes and the reigning champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers now in Hamilton, the Canadian Football League’s championship week is taking shape.
Hamilton’s manager of tourism and events says the first of several Grey Cup activities got underway Monday and more are coming “at every price point” for football fans including the festival.
“In addition … to big concerts like Carrie Underwood at the FirstOntario Centre on Friday, there are also 40 other musical performances at the Built in the Hammer Street Festival,” Ryan McHugh said.
“So just tons of stuff to do — the Santa Claus parade on the Saturday and lots of CFL events.”
McHugh compares the festival to Supercrawl, with thousands not only experiencing music events but a marketplace over several days featuring CFL and Christmas-themed offerings.
A major focus is the James Street Armoury, which has been converted into an interactive area with football-themed activities.
“They have what they call fan central, so if it is a little chilly, you can go in there (and) warm up to some music,” McHugh said.
“They even have an indoor flag football field.”
Other community events include a race involving local students from Gage Park to Tim Hortons Field and the sold-out CFL Alumni Association Legends Luncheon at LiUNA Station.
The City of Niagara Falls is also included, hosting the CFL Awards and post-awards concert with Shaggy at the OLG Stage at Fallsview Casino.
The Province of Ontario will be providing a complimentary shuttle bus service for fans who are staying in Niagara Falls hotels directly to Hamilton to participate in all the Grey Cup festivities from Thursday to Saturday.
The service will also be available on gameday, Sunday, Nov. 19., to and from Tim Hortons Field.
2023 Grey Cup Festival events
Fan Central: From Thursday through Saturday, Fan Central will be the festival hub. The closure of James Street to vehicles (between Barton Street and York Boulevard) will make it simple for fans to access the John Weir Foote Armoury on James Street and the TELUS Kick for Good Courtyard.
James Street: Fans can expect plenty of entertainment as they stroll down James Street with fun available for all ages, free of charge and produced by Supercrawl, Hamilton’s famous arts and indie music festival. Expect live music, a collection of food trucks, the Hamilton Christmas Market, photo opportunities, art installations and other live activations.
Canadian Armed Forces Fan Zone at the John Weir Foote Armoury: An unprecedented interactive area in one of Hamilton’s signature venues, this will include a specially constructed 35-yard turf football field, complete with stands and a scoreboard, that will host the Hamilton Flag Football Classic, a multi-day tournament hosted by Football Ontario.
Patrons can expect football-themed activities, obstacle courses, and an exhibit from the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. Adjacent to the Fan Zone, the TELUS Kick for Good Courtyard will offer fans the chance to showcase their kicking prowess to win exclusive prizes.
Grey Cup Traditions: The Hamilton Convention Centre, FirstOntario Centre and Bridgeworks event space will host a lineup of electrifying team parties for all nine CFL clubs, giving fans a chance to celebrate and connect with their fellow CFL devotees.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ famous TigerTown event will be hosted at FirstOntario Centre along with a concert series.
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Cheer Extravaganza: CFL Dance & Cheer teams will be performing alongside other local acts at the First Ontario Concert Hall on Saturday, Nov. 18.
The CARSTAR CFLAA Legends Luncheon: A fun celebration of the CFL alumni who have made Canadian football great. The sold-out offering will take place Friday, Nov. 17, at LiUNA Station.
The Grey Cup Hamilton Santa Claus Parade presented by WeatherTech: The 2023 version of this annual parade has been moved to Saturday, Nov. 18, and will include CFL cheer teams, CFL Alumni, the Grey Cup trophy and other football-themed fun for fans of all ages.
The Community Race to the Cup presented by FirstOntario: Inspired by one of Hamilton’s most famous sporting events, the annual Around the Bay Road Race, and organized by the same operators, the Community Race to the Cup will see more than 2,000 local students race from Gage Park to Tim Hortons Field on Thursday, Nov. 16.
PA DAY!: Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board have scheduled a PA Day on Friday, Nov. 17, to allow students and their families to participate in the many events at the Grey Cup Festival.
YWCA Hamilton Rise and Shine Young Trailblazer Breakfast: In partnership with the Grey Cup Festival, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, YWCA Hamilton will welcome hundreds of youth for a morning of empowerment and engagement.
SportHamilton Breakfast of Champions presented by Stelco: In partnership with the Grey Cup Festival, SportHamilton is happy to recognize and congratulate Hamilton area athletes, teams and coaches who have accomplished high athletic success in the 2023 season.
SponsorshipX Academy @ Grey Cup Festival: Located at Tim Hortons Field, participants will be able to see the site of the 110th Grey Cup the day before the big game and experience the setup of this massive event. The SponsorshipX Academy is affordable, educational and memorable; Academy content is curated to accelerate professional development as a marketer.
Game Day Neighbourhood Block Party: With roads closed for blocks surrounding Tim Hortons Field on game day, the Neighbourhood Block Party will deliver food, music, and both indoor and outdoor tailgate fun throughout the Stipley neighbourhood surrounding the stadium.
The CFL Awards: The Canadian Football League’s most coveted hardware — apart from the iconic Grey Cup Trophy itself — will be handed out on Thursday, Nov. 16, at Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls.
Built on a cliff overlooking the world-famous Horseshoe Falls, Fallsview Casino Resort, managed by Mohegan, is the largest and most elegant gaming resort facility in Canada. The awards show will take place in its intimate Avalon Threatre and feature enhanced entertainment and hospitality. Following the show, event guests will be welcomed at the state-of-the-art OLG Stage at Fallsview Casino Theatre for a live concert with Shaggy.