Celebrating “gay pride” and the LGBTQ2+ community, the Vancouver Pride Parade is a colourful event taking place on the Sunday of the BC Day Long Weekend.
In 2020 the extravaganza-style procession was cancelled and a virtual event took place instead. The 2021 Vancouver Pride Parade took place in a mostly-online format as well on Sunday, August 1st.
The next Vancouver Pride Parade happens on Sunday, July 31st, in 2022. This year, the event takes place in-person.
Vancouver Pride Parade
The Vancouver Pride Parade is one of Canada’s largest LGBTQ-themed parades. It’s also arguably one of Vancouver’s most interesting and colourful events of the year.
If you’re looking for information about Pride Week in general, check out our article about the Vancouver Pride Festival. If wanting details about just the parade, continue reading. And for details about a similar event in Whistler in winter, see the WhatToDoInWhistler.ca website.
For people who like parades and both fancy and flamboyant costumes, are supportive of the LGBTQ community, can handle large crowds, and don’t mind seeing a bit of skin and the occasional person in their underwear, the Vancouver Pride Parade can be a very fun event. Truly, it’s an impressive thing to see!
The Vancouver Pride Parade is a very gay event, but you don’t have to be “gay” to enjoy the festivities. It’s family-friendly, and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shows up most years.
When and Where
In 2020 the Vancouver Pride Parade was scheduled to take place on Sunday, August 2nd. It was to begin at noon and run for up to a couple of hours from start to finish. Thanks to the COVID-19 virus, however, the live event wasn’t able to happen. In 2020 there was a virtual parade online instead. Due to the pandemic, another virtual parade took place on August 1st in 2021.
The 2022 Vancouver Pride Parade is scheduled to take place in-person from 12:00 to 3:00 pm on Sunday, July 31st.
In normal years, parade floats and other entries assemble along Thurlow Street in the morning. Starting at 12:00 pm the procession heads out from Thurlow down Robson Street, then along Denman to Beach Avenue. It finishes at Sunset Beach where the Pride Festival’s Sunset Beach Festival takes place from 11:00 am until the late afternoon.
From our experience, parade crowds tend to be thickest along Robson Street. If you don’t arrive early, good luck finding a spot where you can see along Robson! The mass of spectators on the sidewalks can be as much as half a dozen people thick, and even more in places. Denman Street crowds usually tend to be better, and Beach Avenue even better.
The Pride Parade in 2021 and 2022
The event from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm on August 1st last year was a “decentralized parade”. While there was a main parade broadcast online by the Vancouver Pride Society, it was a smaller affair than usual.
Due to COVID restrictions the full parade couldn’t happen last year, so those who wished to participate had to have their own celebrations out on the street or sidewalk or at their own home.
In 2022, the parade is set to take place on July 31st. The festival’s theme is “Together Again”, which is fitting given that celebrations can happen in-person again this year. For those who aren’t able to attend the parade in person it will also likely be livestreamed on the Vancouver Pride website.
Special Accessibility Services
For those with mobility issues, there are a couple of accessible viewing areas during normal parades. One can be found at the corner of Denman Street and Haro. The other is on Beach Avenue near Broughton Street. Folk who want access to these areas can reserve their spots by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also good to know, and new in 2019, there was a free shuttle bus from Waterfront Station to Beach Avenue for folk needing to get to the Beach Avenue accessible viewing area. Hopefully 2022 will be the same.
Interested in an LGBTQ-friendly guided walking tour around Vancouver’s West End? Then check out Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours.
About Vancouver’s Pride Parade
The first Vancouver Pride Parade took place in 1978, which makes 2022 the event’s 44th anniversary. The festival’s theme is “Together Again”, as more in-person celebrations are happening again.
Today the event is the largest of its kind in Western Canada. Hundreds of thousands of people attend during more normal years, and as many as 150 entries participate. There are marching bands, people on floats, and politicians waving from cars or simply walking along.
2019 was the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexual acts in Canada. The motto for Vancouver’s Pride event that year, consequently, was “50 years and still fighting.”
As stated on the Vancouver Pride Society’s official website, the parade is “A celebration. A protest. A party. A place to take up space. An opportunity to don our finest and shiniest. A chance to recognize how far we have come and reflect on where we need to go from here.”
What to Expect
Expect to see lots of people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and two-spirited (LGBTQIA2S) community at the Vancouver Pride Parade, both in the procession itself and watching from the sidewalk. Expect to see lots of their friends and supporters too, plus thousands of regular straight folk all having a great time.
According to some estimates, well over half a million people turn out for the parade and related events on the same day. It’s impressive!
At the parade you can expect to see all the colours of the rainbow and sidewalks packed full of spectators. There are also extravagantly decorated floats, people in all kinds of wild and crazy costumes, music blaring, bands playing, people dancing and tons of folk having a blast.
In the parade there are people dressed in regular clothes, but many also in rainbow-coloured outfits, drag and Mardis Gras-style costumes. A few are in just their underwear, others are in swimsuits, some have body paint and a lot of men are shirtless. Pride flags are everywhere!
VANCITY, THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY & HISTORY
Did you know that Vancity Credit Union was Canada’s first financial institution to market to the LGBTQ community through mainstream advertising? They started that back in 2002. Vancity was also a major sponsor of the Vancouver Pride Festival and the parade for many years and helped financially to make the event what it is today.
At the parade in 2019 Vancity had a water refilling station outside their branch at 1798 Robson Street at the corner of Denman and Robson. It was free to fill up your water bottles there. Hopefully 2022 will be the same.
Vancity staff also walked in the parade in 2019 along with Vancouver artist Joe Average who designed the Canadian Mint’s recently released pure silver Equality Coin to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada.
For more details about Vancity and the credit union’s involvement with the LGBTQ community, see Vancity’s Blog.
Tips and Advice
Below are some suggestions to help you make the most out of your Vancouver Pride Parade experience.
TIP: 1 – Unless you hate crowds, don’t like parades or simply aren’t a fan of this sort of thing, go! It’s one of (if not the) most impressive parade in Vancouver all year! It’s highly recommended!
TIP: 2 – Go early, like really early, to find a spot on the sidewalk to see from.
TIP: 3 – Consider going on the Really Gay History Tour with Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours. Forbidden Vancouver runs all sorts of walking tours in downtown Vancouver. They are exceptional, and their Really Gay History Tour has an LGBTQ theme. If you take the tour not only will you have a fun and entertaining experience, but you’ll also learn about the history of the LGBTQ movement which will provide background to the origins of the Pride Festival and the parade. The tour is educational and highly recommended.
To learn more about the parade and the organization behind it, see the Vancouver Pride Society website.
To learn more about other Pride Week events, see our article about the Vancouver Pride Festival.
For information about a nearby Pride event in winter click Whistler Pride and Ski Festival.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Sunset Beach Pride Festival
- Pride Events Elsewhere in the Lower Mainland
- BC Day Long Weekend
- Vancouver’s August Calendar
- Vancouver Festivals & Events
- The A to Z’s of Vancouver
- Vancouver Shows & Entertainment