Plans for ‘walkable’ Grey Cup Festival unveiled in Hamilton


Published August 15, 2023 at 1:45 pm


The countdown to the 110th Grey Cup in Hamilton is on and plans for a “walkable” festival were just unveiled.

Organizers say Hamiltonians and visitors will get to celebrate all the traditions and events they love about the Grey Cup when it comes to Hamilton in November.

From CFL team parties and cheer extravaganzas to alumni functions, plans for the Grey Cup Festival featuring over 40 events were announced today (Aug. 15) during a press conference in Hamilton. The festivities start on Nov. 13 before the 110th Grey Cup takes place Sunday, Nov. 19 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.

Friday, Nov. 17 will be a PA day for schools so more people can enjoy Grey Cup festivities, said Matt Afinec, president and chief operating officer of business operations for the·Hamilton Sports Group.

Afinec, who is responsible for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Forge FC Hamilton and Tim Hortons Field events, said he’s expecting the “built-in-the-Hammer” Grey Cup Festival to be a  “smashing success.” 

“We’re bringing together the best parts of the modern fabric of Hamilton to celebrate together our common bond,” he said, mentioning football, the community, the country, arts, culture, food and traditions that unite people on a “Grey Cup Scale whether you’re from Ancaster or Abbotsford.” 

Afinec said the Grey Cup Festival will be a “walkable” one in the downtown core.

One of the highlights is the Fan Central zone, featuring food, culture and music  on James Street, which will be closed Thursday to Saturday evening during the festival and organized by the Supercrawl team.

“It’s free for all fans to enjoy,” he said during the press conference. “The street will come alive.”

He said there will be live music from local and national talent, CFL cheer teams, an arena concert series, CFL alumni legends luncheon at Liuna Station, the Hamilton Christmas Market and even the Santa Claus Parade will be part of the festival this year on Saturday, Nov. 18.

He added that a “mini Tim Hortons Field” will be built at John Weir Foote Armoury on 200 James Street North. “It is a spectacular space – 31,000 square feet of exhibit space,” he said, noting youth can participate in the biggest flag football tournament and win trophies daily during the festival. There will also be a Canadian Armed Forces Obstacle Course to test people’s abilities and skills as well as the Canadian Football Hall of Fame to learn about the sport’s history.

On gameday, a “Neighbourhood Block Party” will happen in the historic Stipley area near Tim Hortons Field.

Organizers said for the first time, the Grey Cup Festival will be a regional celebration.  Niagara Falls will host the CFL Awards, followed by a concert series, on Nov. 16.

Mayor Andrea Horwath said she was “thrilled” Hamilton was hosting the Grey Cup for the 12th time.

As a lifelong Ticat fan, she recalled her childhood of watching the games with her mom and grandmother who were big fans and had season’s tickets. 

“Our community has so much to offer. It’s an opportunity to show that off, something we are very excited to do,” she said during the press conference Tuesday. “I can’t wait to join the fans, the fans from around these parts … as well as from around the country.”

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