Planning a visit to Canada may invoke, for some, visions of maple syrup, caribou, and lusty, axe-wielding lumberjacks. But envision instead North America's largest pride parade (and second in the world, dwarfed only by Sao Paulo's 3.5 million-strong march). The upcoming Toronto Pride Festival, from June 19 to 28, does not focus on any of the iconic Canadian images but hopefully will feature a sexy lumberjack or two.
The launch party on June 19th will includes a live performance by electro-dance band, Fritz Helder & The Phantoms, the first act to be signed to Nelly Furtado's new label, Nelstar, and drag sensation Sofonda Cox and the Cristobal Burlesque show. The parade festivities will be led by Grand Marshal Victor Juliet Mukasa, Parade Grand Marshal, El-Farouk Khaki and the AIDS Committee of Toronto on June 28 at 2 p.m., through downtown Toronto.
If you want to take a break from the drinking, dancing and flirting, join the folks on Saturday June 27 at the annual Dyke March (starting at 2 p.m.). This event is not a parade, but a political demonstration of critical mass; a moment seized to revel in the strength, diversity and passion of queer women and transfolks. If you want to participate in the demonstration register online now.
For those trying to avoid substances altogether, Toronto Pride also features a drug and alcohol-free space called “The Free Zone,” offering those in recovery a safe place to enjoy the festivities. Including a DJ and a stage with live performances, there are holistic services, and confidential recovery meetings available. The two-day event lasts from June 27 to June 28.
To get your dance on, the fifth annual Big Primpin' special edition pride party is on Sunday at The Phoenix. In the main room will be residents Tuff Luv, Phil V and Rory them Finest. With hostessing by Miss Margot there will be a special performance by the Legendary GIA. Cosmic disco haven will follow with LOVE SAVES THE DAY DJs Will Munro and Jaime Sin.
If you're looking for transport, Porter Airlines flies between several major U.S. and Canadian destinations, including what is virtually a private airport located five minutes from downtown Toronto. Exciting features include free WiFi, a cappuccino machine, and free snacks.
Consider either The Cosmopolitan or Pantages Hotel. Both locations are offering Pride in Style packages featuring a one-night, double-occupancy stay in a Deluxe Suite, Welcome Amenity, Executive Continental Breakfast for two, and two complimentary martinis (both at Eight Wine Bar). Another great luxe location is the Sutton Place Hotel which boasts exceptional service and bay views of Lake Ontario.
Although sometimes we tend to forget, nobody can throw a party like the Canadians, and the largest pride celebration in North Amerca is nothing to scoff at. So, bring on the maple syrup, lumberjacks, and hundreds of thousands of queer people and allies! Toronto will be quite a party in 2009.