Garden parties are the epitome of opulence. Queen Victoria started the British tradition when she began hosting breakfasts for members of the royal family. The tradition continues today as Queen Elizabeth II throws multiple garden parties each year. Garden parties are a little bit out of the ordinary for me, which was all the more reason to put it on my bucket list.
I got a last minute invitation from a friend (side note: sometimes breakups can work in your favour) to join her at the Annual 1920s Garden Party held on the grounds of Spadina House in Toronto. All the guests were instructed to wear 1920s attire, for which I was not prepared. I managed to scrounge together a ruffled dress and some pearls – that was the best it was going to get. The day of the garden party was a rainy mess and we were considering not going at all. We ended up showing up a few hours late when the rain had subsided. Luckily, the rain had likely deterred others from coming, so there was no line up to get in.
Spadina House is an early 20th century mansion in the Forest Hill area of midtown Toronto that was turned in a museum in the 1980s. The house still maintains its impressive grounds, which includes a large garden and stables. When we arrived, they had cars out front from the 1920s as well as a photographer ready to print black and white photos on the spot. We waited in line for about 20 minutes to get out photos taken, but it was well worth it. The photographer was quite passionate about his job, and took the liberty of positioning us and giving us poses to get the optimum shot. We also walked around the side of the house to take some more photos in front of the house – gotta take advantage of those photo ops. I wanted to go into the house, but they had very few tours (maybe once an hour). I just told myself that I would have to come back another day for the tour.
One of my friends was smart enough to bring a tarp for us to sit on, so we laid it down close to the band so we could watch people dance the Charleston while the band played. At one point in the afternoon, they even had dance lessons. The event was BYOB, so popped a bottle of rosé. Traditionally, tea is served at garden parties, but I was quite happy with my wine. They did have food & beverage available for purchase if you didn’t remember to bring your own.
Before we headed out, we took a walk around the garden and then ended up in the sables. They had an “illegal” gambling ring running in their stables. We got to play some of the games that were common in the 1920s, and even learned some of the tricks people used to cheat. Overall, I had a great afternoon at the garden party and would be inclined to check it out next year (hopefully there’s no rain next year)
Next Mission: Score an invite to the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace.