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Vancouver Pride Week Festival

Pride Parade LOVE Balloons

Pride Week is a gay festival in Vancouver’s West End that celebrates the city’s LGBTQIA2+ community. It includes a world-famous Pride Parade in early August.

 


2021 HYBRID EVENT

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vancouver Pride Festival is taking place in a modified format for the second straight year. Between mid-July and August 3rd there are both in-person and virtual festivities scheduled to take place.

For more information about the hybrid festival format, visit the Vancouver Pride Festival website.


 

Vancouver Pride Festival

The Vancouver Pride Festival occurs each year on the first week or so of August and the Vancouver Pride Parade takes place on the Sunday (which is the second-to-last day of the festival).

In 2020 Pride Week was going to run from July 27th until August 3rd and the parade was scheduled to happen on the 2nd (which happens to be on the BC Day Long Weekend). However, both in-person events were cancelled due to the pandemic and online events took place instead.

The 2021 festival aims to host in-person events along with virtual events from July until the beginning of August, with a de-centralized parade on August 1st.

Some of the live in-person events this year take place at Stanley Park Brewing at 8901 Stanley Park Drive. These include the Pride Lounge, Brews & Tunes and the Stanley Park Farmer’s Market, among others. Events take place at other venues too. See below for details.

 


Below is information about the following:

About Pride Week | When & Where | 2021 Events Schedule | Pride Run & Walk | Pride Picnic | Pride at the Pier | Festival at Sunset Beach | Pride Parade | Tips & Suggestions | Other Information


 

Click any of the above links to jump to a specific event or topic, or continue reading to learn all about Vancouver Pride Week’s biggest and most popular events.

 

About Vancouver Pride Week

Vancouver’s West End, especially along Davie Street, is famous for its rainbow colours and gay-friendly atmosphere anytime of the year, but especially in late July and early August when Vancouver’s annual Pride Festival takes place.

Hosted by the Vancouver Pride Society, the week of events is celebrated not only by Vancouver’s LGBTQIA2+ community, but by the entire city and visitors from around the world.

You don’t have to be a part of the LGBTQIA2+ community to appreciate the Vancouver Pride Parade as being one of the city’s most impressive annual parades.

In years when there isn’t a pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people turn out each year to enjoy the music, rainbow colours, festive atmosphere and crazy costumes. Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined in recent years to show his support!

 

Pride Parade on Denman
Vancouver Pride Parade on Denman Street

 

When and Where

The Vancouver Pride Festival usually takes place the week leading up to BC Day, or the first Monday in August.

In 2020 the festival was going to begin on Monday July 27th and finish on Monday August 3rd. Both the Vancouver Pride Parade and Sunset Beach Festival were to take place on Sunday, August 2nd.

In years when the festival doesn’t get cancelled due to pandemics, most of the events take place in Vancouver’s West End, primarily at Sunset Beach. There are also events at other downtown locations though, as well as Pride at the Pier in North Vancouver.

Highlights of Pride Week include the Pride Festival at Sunset Beach (at 1204 Beach Avenue) and the Vancouver Pride Parade. Both take place on the Sunday of the August Long Weekend, with the parade starting at noon and the festival going all day.

See below for dates and further details about these and various other Vancouver Pride Festival events.

 

2021 Events Schedule

With a mixture of online and in-person events, here is what the 2021 Pride schedule looks like:

 

Late June to Mid-July

  • Ballroom Talks (every Saturday from June 26th to July 17th, online)
  • Pride Summer Series (July 16th, online)

 

Week of July 19th to 25th

  • VanPride Classroom Series – Out in Schools presents: YOU on Screen (July 19th, online)
  • Pride Art Walk (daily from July 19th to August 3rd, in-person)
  • Drag Story Time (July 20th and 22nd, online)
  • VanPride Classroom Series – Becoming Accomplices for Racial Justice (July 21st, online)
  • Pride Summer Series (July 23rd, online)
  • Pride Lounge (July 23rd to 26th, in-person)
  • Stoli Pride Lounge (July 23rd to 25th, in-person)
  • Ballroom Talks (July 24th, online)
  • VanPride Classroom Series – Introduction to Gender, Sexuality and Allyship (July 24th, online)

 

Vancouver's Pride Lounge
The Pride Lounge at Stanley Park

 

Week of July 26th to August 3rd

A number of the festival’s events happen at Stanley Park Brewing this year. The brewery is an official partner of the Vancouver Pride Festival and its brewpub is located at 8901 Stanley Park Drive in Stanley Park. Some of the events that it hosts in 2021 are the following:

  • Brews & Tunes – live music at the Stanley Park Brewpub on the Friday and Saturday of July 30th and 31st. The pop-up backyard beer garden runs from noon until late evening and the music starts at 6:00 or 7:00 pm. (This event is part of the brewpub’s second anniversary celebrations.)
  • The Pride Lounge – an outdoor beer garden runs every day between July 23rd and July 31st.
  • Stanley Park Farmer’s Market – a pop-up market happens on Sunday, August 1st, between 10:00 and 3:00 pm. (This event is part of the brewpub’s second anniversary celebrations.)

Other pride-themed events happening during the last week or so of the festival include the following:

  • Pride Art Walk (daily from July 19th to August 3rd, in-person)
  • Drag Story Time (July 27th and 29th, online)
  • A Nice Day for a Queer Wedding (July 26th, in-person)
  • Pride Proclamation at City Hall (July 26th, online)
  • VanPride Classroom Series – Supporting Black Trans Women (July 26th, online)
  • Drag Deliveries (daily from July 26th to 30th, hybrid)
  • VanPride Classroom Series – Queer and Trans History BC (July 28th, hybrid)
  • LGBTQAI2S+ International Human Rights Panel (July 29th, online)
  • Queer History Panel (July 29th, online)
  • Symphonic Pride (July 30th, online)
  • VanPrideFest: Beyond the Binary Picnic (July 30th, in-person)
  • Ace & Aro Prom in the Park (July 30th, in-person)
  • VanPrideFest: TOGETHER AGAIN (July 30th, in-person)
  • Stoli Pride Lounge (July 30th to August 1st, in-person)
  • POSH BALL 2021 (July 31st, online)
  • VanPrideFest: Clean Sober Proud (July 31st, in-person)
  • Teddy Bears Family Picnic (July 31st, in-person)
  • Vancouver Dyke March Sit In (July 31st, in-person)
  • VanPrideFest: Commercial Drag (August 1st, in-person)
  • Decentralized Pride Parade (August 1st, hybrid)
  • VanPrideFest: Pride Picnic (August 1st, in-person)
  • VanPrideFest: Pride Wellness (August 1st, in-person)

 

Really Gay History Tour

 


REALLY GAY HISTORY TOURS

Forbidden Vancouver is a locally-owned and operated walking tour company. They offer affordably-priced walking tours around downtown Vancouver, Gastown and Stanley Park on different days of the week.

On Sunday afternoons throughout most of the year they also offer their Really Gay History Tour which is a 2-hour guided journey around Vancouver’s West End. During Pride Week they offered extra tours from July 30th until August 2nd each morning at 10 o’clock in 2020, and are doing so again in 2021.

On the tour you’ll learn about the city’s LGBTQ2+ community and its history (which includes bookstore bombings and police raids). The experience includes visits to Robson Square, Granville Street and Davie Street Village. All are welcome!

Click Really Gay History Tour for details about this specific tour, or see our article about Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours to learn about the company and its other offerings.


 

Pride Run and Walk

The Pride Run & Walk has taken place in most recent years on the Sunday of the August Long Weekend at Sunset Beach. In 2019, however, it happened on July 21st. Originally scheduled for July 19th in 2020, the event went virtual due to the pandemic.

In 2021 the event is again virtual, from July 16th to August 8th. You can sign up to run or walk the required distance on your own or with a small group during that time. The two distances are 5 km and 10 km, and the cost to register is $30 (with the money going to various community organizations).

 

The Event During Normal Years

The Pride Run & Walk is for people of all abilities. There are competitive runners as well as people just out for a fun time. Many participants dress up – often quite spectacularly and in bright colours – and there are prizes for the best costumes.

The event involves a 5-km course that goes from Sunset Beach on the waterfront, along the seawall to False Creek and as far as Yaletown before turning around and returning to Sunset Beach.

The cost for the Pride Run & Walk is about $30 or $40, depending on when you sign up and pay. Start time for the race is usually 9:00 am.

For more details about the event and to register check out the Pride Run & Walk website.

 

Pride Picnic in the Park

The Pride Picnic usually takes place on the same day as the Pride Run & Walk. After runners complete the run or walk, they head to the picnic along with their supporters. Non-running folk just head straight to the picnic.

Taking place at Second Beach, the Pride Picnic started at 11:00 am in 2019. Anyone who wants is welcome to bring their food, non-alcoholic beverages and something to sit on.

The event did not take place in 2020 (at least not physically and in one place). With no regular Run & Walk in 2021 there’s no picnic right after it, though there are a few different picnics scheduled between July 30th and August 1st.

For more details about the picnicking event, see the Vancouver Pride website.

 

Pride at the Pier

Pride at the Pier is one of the Vancouver Pride Festival’s newer (and smaller) events. It involves an alcohol-free and family-friendly dance party at Shipbuilder’s Square near the bottom of Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver.

2021 dates and details are still to be confirmed as of late June, so the event might not end up happening.

Click Pride at the Pier for more information.

 

Pride at the Pier Characters
Pride at the Pier Drag Queen Participants

 

Pride Festival at Sunset Beach

The Pride Festival typically happens on the Sunday, which is the same day as the Vancouver Pride Parade. Starting at 11:00 am and running all day, the free event takes place at Sunset Beach Park which is located at 1204 Beach Avenue just a short walk along the waterfront from English Bay Beach.

At the Pride Festival at Sunset Beach there is the Pride Market that features over a hundred different vendors and exhibitors. There is also live music, drag performances, DJ music, a beer garden and lots of people still in costume after participating in the Vancouver Pride Parade.

Although it officially starts at 11:00 am in years when it does take place, don’t expect much to be happening at the Pride Festival at Sunset Beach until after 1:00 pm as everyone is at the parade which starts at noon and goes on for well over an hour.

From about 3:00 until 5:00 pm the festival usually gets very busy, with everything done and people packing up by around 6 o’clock.

The event at the beach did not happen in 2020. It doesn’t look like it will happen in 2021 either, at least as of late June. If it does end up happening the event will likely be scaled down compared to previous years due to COVID restrictions.

Click Sunset Beach Festival for more information.

 

Sunset Beach at Pride Festival
Pride Festival at Sunset Beach

 

Vancouver Pride Parade

The largest event of its kind in Western Canada, the Vancouver Pride Parade is arguably the highlight of the Vancouver Pride Festival. Taking place on the last Sunday of Pride Week, so on the Sunday of the BC Day Long Weekend, it’s one of the city’s most impressive parades all year, and definitely its most colourful.

The in-person parade was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. A virtual parade, however, took place on August 2nd. The 2021 parade is on August 1st and is in a “decentralized format”.

What this means is that people who want to participate are encouraged to have their own mini parades and celebrations with a “bubble” of safe people.

If you take pictures or video and upload them to social media you might be featured on the live Pride Parade broadcast hosted by the Vancouver Pride Society. Watching the broadcast also gives you the opportunity to win prizes and take part in some trivia games.

 

The Pride Parade Route

In years when it does take place in full, the live in-person Vancouver Pride Parade usually starts at 12 o’clock at the corner of Robson Street and Thurlow Street in downtown Vancouver. It proceeds west along Robson Street, then south down Denman Street and finally along Beach Avenue before finishing at Sunset Beach. In total, the entire route is just under 3 km in distance.

The Vancouver Pride Parade is a large, long, colourful and entertaining parade. It lasts for well over an hour and includes rainbow-coloured floats, marching bands, and people in all kinds of colourful, exotic and sometimes unconventional costumes.

Click Pride Parade to learn more about the Sunday event.

 

Pride Parade Crowds on Robson
Pride Parade Crowds on Robson Street

 

Tips and Suggestions

Below are some tips to help you make the most out of your Vancouver Pride Festival experience in years when the big live events aren’t cancelled.

TIP #1: Get to the parade early if you want a good viewing spot. This is without a doubt one of Vancouver’s most popular parades and the streets get lined with gazillions of spectators. Unless you’re really tall, if you arrive late you’ll be seriously challenged to find a good place to watch from.

TIP #2: For the Pride Festival at Sunset Beach and Vancouver Pride Parade events, take public transit if you can. Parking is difficult and traffic is a nightmare.

TIP #3: If you’ve never been to the Vancouver Pride Parade, go! It’s a fun, inclusive, entertaining and impressive event.

 

BC Day Long Weekend

 

Other Information

For more information, see the Vancouver Pride Society website.

To learn more about the parade click Vancouver Pride Parade.

For a list of other events taking place around the same time in and around Vancouver, click BC Day Long Weekend.

For information on other major events throughout the year, see Vancouver’s Festivals & Events Calendar.