• Festivals

Toronto: the Royal Alexandra Theatre

No matter the angle, the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto is an architectural star, gorgeous on the outside but also on the inside. In September, during the Toronto International Film Festival, this exquisite space hosts film premieres, galas, screenings, meetings, and conferences.

In Toronto, they call it the Royal Alex. The year was 1907 when it first opened. Located at 260 King Street West, the Royal Alexandra Theater is known for its romantic Beaux Arts lines. It was designed by the highly regarded architect John M. Lyle. The façade made of red brick with intricate stone detailing is imposing without losing its festive posture and luminous buzz. The building shines. It embraces the street with open arms.


The Royal Alexandra is the longest continuously running theater in North America. Al Jolson sang here. Legendary dancers Alicia Alonso, Margot Fonteyn, Fred Astaire all tiptoed within these premises and in front of polished audiences. The ticket holder enters through a main entrance adorned by beautiful details in all the many royal arches and classic columns.



Inside, the foyer is adorned with ornate plasterwork, marble, chandeliers, and the most lavish decorative finishes. The auditorium is a sight to behold. It offers luxurious red velvet seating. The ceiling is no less magnificent, so intricate the detail and lyrical the figurines. A generous and welcoming proscenium arch frames the large stage. Its capacity is over 1,000 seats. The Royal Alex will be one of the epicenters of creative energy during the upcoming Toronto film festival in September.


Over the years, the Royal Alexandra Theater has undergone renovations and updates while preserving its historical identity. It remains one of Toronto’s most beloved cultural references, hosting a variety of theatrical performances – yes, even the most ambitious Broadway shows, opera, and the most revered classic plays.


If those walls could talk, they would tell you about the long applause given to John Gielgud, Mary Pickford, the Marx Brothers, Edith Piaf, Ingrid Bergman, and Orson Welles. During TIFF 2022, the Royal Alex was a must-stop for everybody, whether you were working as a journalist or a member of the public looking for a wonderful time checking new movies and new perspectives. You could have, on one same day, the premiere of Catherine Hardwicke’s Prisoners Daughter followed by the Korean political thriller Hunt, both works capable of attracting a new wave of cinema enthusiasts.



The Royal Alexandra combines absolute grandeur with old-world elegance and love for the arts. The program is always a surprise. During the last edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, the theater hosted a series of late-night screenings called Midnight Madness. Beyond Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, a new cult favorite, the program included frightening works about religious cults and candle-lit hallways hiding all sorts of nightmares. Horror movies feel different in a place that looks a bit haunted by ghosts. The wallpaper in red damask is perfect. Framed photos, showing some of the biggest names in the performance arts of the 20th century, are from a time when not all portraits had been trivialized. They give us a lesson in grace and respect.


The Toronto International Film Festival, including numerous beautiful events at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, will take place September 7 – 17, 2023.