Pride Week is a gay festival in Vancouver’s West End that celebrates the city’s LGBTQIA2+ community and includes a world-famous Pride Parade in early August.
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 coronavirus pandemic and online events took place instead. 2021 dates and details are to be determined.
Below is information about the following:
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 virus 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!
When and Where
The Vancouver Pride Festival 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.
2020 Virtual Schedule
Although the festival’s regular live in-person events did not happen in 2020, a series of virtual activities were still planned to take place online. Below was the tentative schedule for 2020’s events. 2021 details may or may not be similar.
Monday, July 27th, 2020
- Proclamation & Flag Raising
- Queer Weddings at City Hall
- Drag Story Time
Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
- Youth Dance Party
- “What’s in My Box” Drag Performance
Wednesday, July 29th, 2020
- Vancouver Queer History Panel
- Pride Ball with Van Vogue Jam
- Drag Story
Thursday, July 30th, 2020
- QTBIPOC Pride Celebration
- QTBIPOC Headliner
- International LGBTQAI2S+ Panel
Friday, July 31st, 2020
- Pride & the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
- “What’s in My Box” Drag Performance
- Drag Story
Saturday, August 1st, 2020
- Drag Show
- Public Disco
- Headliner Performance
Sunday, August 2nd, 2020
- Virtual Pride Parade
- Sunset Beach Main Stage Show
- 40+ Years of Vancouver Pride History
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.
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!
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. Again in 2020 it was going to take place earlier, with the event scheduled to happen on July 19th.
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 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.
In 2020, because of the COVID-19 virus, the Pride Run & Walk was a virtual event. Participants could sign up and go on their own wherever and whenever they like in July. Details are to be confirmed for 2021.
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). 2021 details are to be confirmed.
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 to be confirmed.
Click Pride at the Pier for more information.
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. Hopefully it will occur again though in 2021.
Click Sunset Beach Festival for more information.
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 online parade, however, was still scheduled to happen on August 2nd. Details for 2021 are to be determined.
The Pride Parade Route
In years when it does take place, 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.
Tips and Suggestions
Below are some tips to help you make the most out of your Vancouver Pride Festival experience in years when the 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.
For more information, see the Vancouver Pride Society website.
For more details 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.