Pride Toronto Festival
Canada’s first-ever Pride Month will launch on June 1, 2016, featuring extended programming and provocative events throughout the city, culminating in the 10-day Pride Toronto festival, June 24 to July 3, 2016. Toronto Trans March: Friday, July 1. Toronto Dyke March: Saturday, July 2. Toronto Pride Parade: Sunday, July 3. Visit the official website: PrideToronto.com. ShareThis
Toronto Pride: Ultimate Restaurant, Bar & Nightlife Guide
Toronto Pride Week means ten days of food, fun and fab. The heart of the celebration is in Toronto’s gay village but opportunities for entertainment can be found in LGBTQ-friendly bars, restaurants and nightlife spots across the entire city.
All that celebrating can work up an appetite (and a thirst). Check out our ultimate guide for where to eat, drink and party during Toronto Pride 2016 – wherever your travels may take you.
Toronto Pride 2016: Ultimate Restaurant, Bar & Nightlife Guide
In the Gay Village
During the final weekend of Pride, Church Street in Toronto’s Gay Village shuts down to become a pedestrian-only party zone.
Where to eat: Grab a bite to eat at any of the numerous street food vendors lining the street. For pub grub, get a seat and a plate of nachos on the patio at O’Grady’s (518 Church Street) or The Churchmouse & Firkin (475 Church Street). More upscale dining can be found at Church Bistro (555 Church Street), Lola’s Kitchen (634 Church Street), or Sambucas on Church (489 Church Street).
Where to drink: There’s no shortage of places to drink in The Village, and even more so during Pride when beverage gardens spring up all along Church Street. Head to The Green Space on Church beside The 519 Community Centre, where the beer tents and outdoor dance floor always draw a big crowd. Drop in at Crews & Tangos (508 Church Street) to enjoy live drag entertainment, or chill out with a pint on the patio. Across the street, Woody’s (467 Church Street) is a local institution with hot bartenders serving up cold drinks.
Where to party: The parties during Toronto Pride are legendary. At The Green Space on Church, there’s a different party happening every day from July 1 to the July 3, including Lipstick Jungle after the Dyke March and Disco, Disco after the parade. If you feel like a change of scenery, simply walk down Church Street where you can always find live music and DJ’s stirring up fun. And make sure to check out Fly 2.0 nightclub (6 Gloucester Street), whose go-go dancers, strobe lights and fist-pumping music have earned it a legendary reputation and numerous Best Dance Club in Toronto awards.
In the West End
West Queen West (a.k.a Queer West) is the Village’s younger, trendier, hipster cousin.
Where to eat: You won’t have a problem finding good food on restaurant-lined Queen Street West. Grab a table at Terroni (720 Queen Street West) for authentic Italian cuisine including their famous wood-fired pizza. Thai Elephant (813 Queen Street West) has some of the best Thai food in the west end. If you’re feeling classy and have money to burn, head to La Palette (492 Queen Street West) for escargot, duck confit and a wine list to die for.
Where to drink: The west end’s watering holes attract varied crowds of all ages, genders and orientations. The Beaver (1192 Queen Street West) is a former gallery turned bar/restaurant with a great patio and an artsy laid-back vibe. Not far away, The Steady (1051 Bloor Street West) is an unpretentious Miami-inspired bar for anyone who likes good cocktails. Speaking of cocktails, it’s hard to beat BarChef (472 Queen Street West), which boasts over 5,000 housemade bitters and the famous Vanilla & Hickory Smoked Manhattan.
Where to party: If you get tired of the scene in the Village, the scene in Queen West is every bit as bumping. The Drake (1150 Queen Street West) is famous for its raucous themed parties during Pride. Continue the fun with live music and DJs at Velvet Underground (510 Queen Street West) or Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen Street West), where you can dance the night away.
In the East End
The east end offers a quieter atmosphere than The Village or Queen West, with plenty of eye candy in The Beach.
Where to eat: Between Leslieville’s cafés, The Danforth’s Greek food, and The Beach’s pubs, the east end is a haven for foodies. Grab a locally sourced meal from Chef Lynn Crawford’s Canadian-themed seasonal menu at Ruby Watchco (730 Queen Street East). Savour the taste of Greece at Messini Authentic Gyros (445 Danforth Avenue) or Pan on the Danforth (516 Danforth Avenue). Or enjoy the famous pulled pork poutine at Hogtown Smoke (1959 Queen Street East) in The Beach.
Where to drink: When the sun is out during Pride (which is usually), many people head east to The Beach, where the patios provide a perfect vantage point for people-watching. Hop on the streetcar and go patio-hopping on Queen Street East. The Stone Lion (1958 Queen Street East) features two patios and a great selection of imported beers, while The Salty Dog’s (1980 Queen Street East) west-facing patio ensures plenty of sun in the afternoon. Afterwards, take a walk along the boardwalk to admire the shirtless guys and bikini-clad gals hanging out on Ashbridge’s Bay Beach.
Where to party: Newcomer Wayla Bar (996 Queen Street East) has a funky vibe inspired by the nightlife in France and underground clubs in New York City. During Pride, it plays host to many special LGBTQ-themed events. Also check out The Duke (1225 Queen Street East) for live music and karaoke, and The Roy (894 Queen Street East) for Irish-style drinking and dancing.
By the Harbourfront
Picturesque views of the lake make the Harbourfront the perfect place to wander during Pride, with the allure of the Toronto Islands only a short ferry ride away.
Where to eat: Toronto’s waterfront restaurants combine great food with beautiful views of Lake Ontario. Munch on baked stone flatbreads, maple chipotle baked wings and pulled pork on Against the Grain’s killer lakeside patio (245 Queens Quay West). Chow down on pub food at Watermark (207 Queens Quay West). Or enjoy authentic Szechuan and Cantonese dishes at Pearl Harbourfront Chinese Cuisine (207 Queens Quay West). Wherever you dine, you’re guaranteed a spectacular view.
Where to drink: Craft beer aficionados will love Amsterdam Brewhouse (245 Queens Quay West), which boasts a 14,000 square-foot space, an extensive selection of regular and seasonal craft beers and a fully functioning brewery. Other good spots to grab a brew include The Miller Tavern (31 Bay Street) and Firkin on Harbour (10 Yonge Street), while The Wine Bar (9 Church Street) has a list of vintages to please the most discriminating of sommeliers.
Where to party: Take the ferry over to the Toronto Islands where there is always at least one wild party during Pride. While there, be sure to head to Hanlan’s Point, a clothing optional beach that is a popular hangout for gay men.
Toronto Pride Week 2016: What to Do and Where to Go
Come OUT and PLAY this summer at Toronto Pride! Details about the 2016 festival are coming soon!
Toronto Pride Week 2015: What to Do and Where to Go
If You’re Looking for Live Music
Toronto Pride Week always boasts an impressive roster of musical artists, and this year is no exception.
- Catch YouTube and MTV sensation Todrick Hall, famous for his pop music parodies and remixed hits, at this year’s Opening Party (BIA Stage – Church Street between Maitland and Alexander, June 19, 8:00pm).
- Rock out to queer-core, punk, trash-drag and indie bands at Alterna-Queer, featuring American S&M punk band GASH and legendary alterna-rockers My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (Alexander Parkette, June 28, 2:00pm to 10:00pm).
- Join headline-making Russian feminist collective and punk band Pussy Riot and Grammy Award-winning artist Cyndi Lauper as they lead the Pride Parade as International Grand Marshalls (Yonge Street between Bloor and Dundas, June 28, 2:00pm). Afterward, make your way to The Final Play where Pussy Riot will be gracing the Molson Canadian Stage along with Mounties, The Mohrs, Carole Pope and more (Yonge-Dundas Square, 2:00pm to 11:00pm).
If You’re Looking to Party
The parties at Toronto Pride are fun, frenzied and fab.
- Soak up the sun at Sugar Beach at the Sweetness Pride Beach Party. All the way from Tel Aviv, DJ Aron will be laying the beat down at this hot and happening circuit party (22 Dockside Drive, June 21, 12:00pm to 7:00pm).
- Relax on a private cabana and enjoy the sunset over Lake Ontario at Cabana Pool Party. Vancouver-based DJ SOLLORS and bikini babe DJ Delicious provide the music, while Out Sport Toronto provides the activity with a rousing game of water polo (Cabana Pool Bar – 11 Polson Street, June 24, 6:00pm to 11:00pm).
- Immerse yourself in a world of glitter, glitz and glamour at Starry Night. Filled with performances by Ireland’s Panti Bliss, Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 7 queen Trixie Mattel, Montréal DJ Mado Lamotte and more, this FREE soirée is one you won’t want to miss (Barbara Hall Park – 519 Church Street Community Centre, June 25, 6:00pm to midnight).
If You’re Looking for Multicultural Flare
Toronto Pride is all about celebrating diversity.
- Join International Grand Marshall and Bollywood superstar Celina Jaitly at Bend it Like Bombay, a dance- and music-infused celebration of the South Asian love festival Holi (TD Wellesley Stage, June 26, 7:00pm to 2:00am).
- Get your samba on at Pan Americano, a gigantic Brazilian Ball complete with gold-painted, bikini-clad beauties and a quente music line-up including Brazilian circuit superstar Ana Paula and DJ Tiago Vibe (TD Wellesley Stage, June 27, 2:00pm to 2:00am).
- Celebrate Toronto’s black and Caribbean communities at Blockorama, which will feature over 20 performances including headliner Sharaya J and soca sensation Destra Garcia (TD Wellesley Stage, June 28, 12:00pm to 11:00pm).
If You’re Looking for Activism and Dialogue
The Pride movement was born out of a spirit of political activism, and Toronto Pride Week continues that tradition with critical dialogue and events tackling issues that affect the LGBTTIQQ2SA community.
- Promote inclusion among faith-based communities at the Pride Interfaith Fair (Metropolitan United Church, June 14, 3:00pm).
- Take part in Pride and Prejudice, a one-day human rights conference that explores the struggles and triumphs of the queer community through case studies, panel discussions and testimonials (15 King’s College Circle – Room 140, June 20, 9:00am to 6:00pm).
- Commemorate those lives lost and affected by HIV/AIDS at the AIDS Candlelight Vigil (Barbara Hall Park – 519 Church Street Community Centre, June 23, 9:00pm).
If You’re Looking to March (or Spectate)
Toronto Pride Week features three major parades and marches that celebrate gender and sexual diversity in all its forms.
- The Trans Pride March will begin at the corner of Church Street and Isabella Street on June 26 at 7:00pm. Finish the march at Yonge-Dundas Square, where Chaz Bono and S. Bear Bergman will be hosting Transforming Pride alongside performances by Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, Buck Angel, Crackpuppy and The Cliks (Molson Canadian Stage, 7:00pm to 11:00pm).
- This year’s Dyke March focuses on the ongoing issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, while creating a welcome space for all self-identified dykes (Church Street at Bloor Street, June 27, 2:00pm). After the march, celebrate with The L Word’s Kate Moennig and Uh Huh Her’s Camila Grey at #DYKEVERSITY (Bud Light South Stage, 2:00pm to 2:00am).
- Close off Pride Week at the one and only Toronto Pride Parade, featuring over 150 participating groups. Let loose and have fun amidst the elaborate floats, colourful costumes and rousing music (Yonge Street between Bloor and Dundas, June 28, 2:00pm).
If You’re Looking for Artistic Inspiration
The arts are essential vehicles for the exploration of queer identity.
- Listen to film icon John Waters as he shares his experiences from his famed lecture series “This Filthy World” at An Evening with John Waters (Ryerson Theatre – 43 Gerrard Street, June 22, 7:00pm).
- Witness incredible movement and dance routines by Body Waves at Cipher Cabaret, presented by the world’s largest and longest-running queer theatre, Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander Street, June 24, 8:00pm).
- Admire original and thought-provoking works of art at the OCAD University Pride Street Fair Lounge & Art Installation (OCAD University – 100 McCaul Street: June 26, 7:00pm to 1:00am; June 27, 12:00pm to 1:00am; June 28, 12:00pm to 11:00pm).
If You’re Looking for Divine Drag Divas
From the stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race to homegrown talent from Toronto and Montréal, the drag entertainment at Toronto Pride can’t be beat.
- Renowned Montréal drag queen, cabaret performer and queen of kitsch Mado la bitch will entertain crowds with her provocative and outrageous sense of humour at Mado Frenches Toronto (Théâtre de l’Alliance Française – 24 Spadina Road, June 24, 7:00pm).
- Fan favourite from Season 7 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Katya is headlining a one-of-a-kind show called From Russia with Love at Fly 2.0 nightclub, also featuring DJ Grind and an opening set by Geoff Kelleway (6 Gloucester Street, June 26, 10:30pm).
- Toronto Pride celebrates its 35th anniversary with 35 drag performers at Drag On! Hosted by Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 6 winner Bianca del Rio, with music by Kitty Glitter and another performance by Katya, this event will be as fierce and flamboyant as they come (Molson Canadian Stage – Yonge-Dundas Square, June 27, 2:00pm to 11:00pm).
Who I Am: Kay’s Story
When Kay first came out, she felt she had to look and dress a certain way based on other peoples’ expectations. But with the help of significant role models in her life, she learned to be unapologetic about who she is.