The Free Way To Enjoy #NBAAllStarWeekend in Toronto

In case you missed it: Toronto is overrun with sneaker heads, celebrities and basketball fans who are here to attend and celebrate the NBA All Star Weekend. It’s the first time that the prestigious and insanely loved event has crossed the border and Toronto, in its coldest time of the year, is going zero to one hundred pretty fast.

There are tons of concerts, celebrity-hosted VIP events and afterparties taking place over the course of this weekend (and then, of course, the actual NBA competitions) that cost many pretty pennies which makes it hard for a lot of people to take in this really exciting event. But hey, if you enjoy walking, social media and pop-ups, there’s actually a couple of ways that you can enjoy the sights, sounds and culture of the All-Star Weekend, for free!

While fans were gathering at Ricoh Coliseum for the All-Star Celebrity Game I took some time to explore the downtown core and came across some very cool activations, marketing and events over a couple of hours.

We The North at Champs presents Mitchell & Ness pop-up

We The North at Champs presents Mitchell & Ness pop-up

First stop: the Champs Mitchell & Ness pop-up launched to celebrate the new Mitchell & Ness collection. You’ll find tons of Toronto and Raptors swag there and a constant hip-hop beat adding bass to Queen Street West.

I unfortunately was unable to make it to the Jordan pop-up store near Yonge-Dundas Square, but I did take a peek at Nike Canada’s Air Force 1 pop-up which features a 3D display of the Toronto landscape, a visual Air Force 1 timeline and of course, plenty of Air Force 1s for sale.

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Along the way I caught the Nike SNKRS XPRESS, a Toronto streetcar transformed into a retail-interactive experience where riders can hop on, learn about Nike products and check out some digital content while traveling on Queen Street West. Tickets are currently sold out but keep an eye on the Nike Toronto twitter where they will announce if any spots open up.

I also randomly ran into New Era’s #CapMachine, a moving pop-up that offers customizable hats FOR FREE. You have the option of three snapbacks – the class Toronto Raptors hat, a commemorative NBA All Stars Weekend 2016 hat, and a dark grey one, along with the choice of either a maple leaf or The 6ix iron on. I chose the Raptors hat because I wanted something that I can wear year-round and to the next Raptors game I check out. Keep your eyes peeled on New Era’s social media to see where the Cap Machine parks next!

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New Era also hosted Bun B for a free in-store performance at their Toronto flagship store on Queen West last night.

#DotheDew display at Union Station

#DotheDew display at Union Station

If you’re a marketing nerd like me, you should definitely take a stroll through Union Station en route to Mountain Dew’s interactive virtual reality experience, Court Vision. The entire transit point is covered in green #DoTheDew posters and it’s a big visual experience in itself. It also matches the Go Station and Presto colour scheme so well that it doesn’t feel overbearing.

There are so many pop-ups I didn’t get a chance to look at yesterday but I’m very excited to see the intense amount of branding and interactivity come into play over the weekend. I know that Adidas and Reebok both have pop-ups and may be selling exclusive merchandise. You should also pay attention to social media where random events are constantly being tweeted out and announced last-minute. For example, Beats by Dre is poised to host an event at a local barbershop this afternoon and NBA players are doing meet-and-greets at the Eatons Centre. Make sure you share your finds and experiences on Twitter!

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