Pride Guide: Where to Go During Toronto’s Gay Pride Festival

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Every June, Toronto hosts Pride Toronto, one of the largest and most beloved gay pride events in the world. This month-long LGBTQ celebration transforms the streets into a wild party, drawing an estimated one million activists, allies, and partygoers from across Canada and beyond. Grab your rainbow flag and dive into the festivities by including these great Toronto events and destinations on your Pride itinerary.

The Gay Village

Make “The Village” your first stop. Situated at the intersection of Church and Wellesley Streets, this lively neighbourhood is a hub for the LGBTQ community, as well as hip cafés, bars, restaurants, night clubs, and gay-centred shops. It’s a great place to go shopping, meet new people, or to chill on a patio with a cocktail.

During Pride Toronto, Church Street turns into a massive pedestrian village, street fair, and marketplace. When night falls, the road becomes packed with Pride partiers, some clutching foamy pints and food cartons, while others dance to the DJ’s beats. Grab your friends and join the fun!

Buddies In Bad Times Theatre

At midnight, the lights flicker. A drag queen saunters onto the stage, immaculately dressed in her glittering gown and feather boa. The air prickles with excitement—the show is about to begin at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Founded in 1979, Buddies in Bad Times is arguably the world’s longest-running and largest queer theatre. During gay pride month, the theatre hosts Queer Pride Festival, a 10-day celebration of queer theatre, comedy, art, music, and parties.

As the curtain falls, don your dancing shoes and get ready to shake your booty. On Saturday nights, the theatre transforms into Buddies After Hours, a rocking celebration with pumping top-40 tunes, queer party anthems, and spectacular drag performances.

Parades and Marches

Sunshine warms the sidewalk and electric energy ripples through the air as you’re swept up in the joyous crowds that line the street. Suddenly, you’re refreshed by a blast of cool water. A float sails by, manned by scantily-clad dancers with water guns who wave and yell out, “Happy Pride!” You join in the resounding cheers, which roar through the sea of fluttering rainbow coloured flags.

Pride Toronto features a slew of parades and marches to celebrate gay pride and gender and sexual diversity, including the Trans Pride March and the Dyke March. On the last day, the festival culminates with the world-famous Toronto Pride Parade. For several hours, the parade takes over Yonge Street with dazzling floats, music, and an estimated one million spectators and marchers.

For stellar views, your best bet is to find a friend with a balcony overlooking Yonge Street, or a coveted spot at a patio or bar along the route. Or plunge into the heart of the action and join one of the community groups in the parade and march along.

Hanlan’s Point Beach

For a leisurely Pride experience, take the Harbourfront ferry to Hanlan’s Point, a clothing-optional beach on the Toronto Islands that’s especially popular among gay men. It’s long been a gay-friendly destination, ever since the first Gay Day Picnics were hosted there during the 1970s queer liberation movement. Bring a towel and snacks, and then settle into the powdery white sand for a relaxing day, whether in a bathing suit or in the buff. After a day of beach bumming, treat yourself to a “Sip and Sail” cocktail cruise along Toronto’s Harbourfront.

Queen West

Known as “Queer West,” the city’s west end houses a vibrant gay hipster ‘hood, teeming with trendy bars, art galleries, and boutique clubs. This neighbourhood is popular among the LGBTQ community, and hosts special Toronto events during Pride Toronto month. Make sure you don’t miss out by checking the event schedule at some favourite local hangouts such as The Beaver and The Gladstone Hotel.

If you’re from out of town and need a restful place to stay during Pride Toronto, Executive Hotel Cosmopolitan is conveniently located in the city centre and will provide you with a stylish, rejuvenating retreat after a day (and night) of lively celebration.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

12 Alexander Street Toronto ON M4Y 1B4

416-975-8555

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