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The newbie’s guide to Pride Toronto 2018

Victoria Revay | posted Friday, Jun 22nd, 2018

The countdown to pride weekend is on. If you’ve always wanted to take in the celebrations but didn’t know where to start, here are three expert recommendations about the top things to do, see and try, during pride. Happy Celebrations!

Erick Espinosa
CityNews Associate Producer & Pride Pro

5. Cabana Pool Bar 
Stealing an ideal spot on Toronto’s waterfront at Polson Pier, Cabana Pool Bar is hosting a slew of Pride Month-related parties. But it’s also a great spot for those looking for fun under the sun with a drink in hand and a good time on the mind. Miami-style white cabanas, daybeds, a huge pool and world-class DJs entertain 2500 guests at a time in this spacious summer-favourite venue.

4. Hair of the Dog 
A village staple, this pub is the perfect hangout for those who need to nurse a mighty hangover or they’re ready to get one started. All kidding aside, the corner spot is an ultimate place to people watch, grab a bite and be situated just a throws-away from the hubbub of activity in the village.

3. Toronto Island 
The Toronto Islands are just a water taxi ride away from the downtown core. Offering both adults-only beaches — the clothing-optional Hanlan’s Point is a must-try for those brave enough to take it all off — and the family-friendly Centreville. This year, Pride organizers are bringing it back to where it all started — Toronto’s very first Pride-style celebrations happened on the island in 1971.

2. The Anndore House 
This new concept hotel calls itself a house and for good reason. Each room is unique, offering up an industrial design combined with home-like decor. And in case you need a last minute chop, there is even a barber shop. The best part? The concierge also helps cater Toronto-first experiences.

1. Green Space Festival 
The 519, the community centre that is an essential part of the village, has been running the multi-day festival for over a decade. Offering hours of entertainment through musical performances of all genres. 100 per cent of the proceeds go towards funding LGBTQ+ initiatives for the centre that is one of the most prominent in Canada.

Carlotta Carlisle

Toronto Drag Queen

5. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
One of the most acclaimed performing centres in Canada featuring alternative theatre, for more than forty years, the once nomadic theatre has been at the forefront of promoting queer productions. Leading up to pride weekend, check out Tallulah Pride Party with drag queen performances.

4. The Drink
A gay-owned and gay-operated independent coffee house. Adding a dash of Drag to the cookies and carrot cakes that are available until close, it’s a mix of sweet and boozy atmosphere.

3. The Men’s Room
You can’t do Pride without looking the part, right?  For t-shirts, accessories, flags and more adventurous garb, this clothing store stocks everything from the tame to the more risque: Read, yes there is lots of leather and fetish apparel.

2.  Crews & Tangos
Sure, you could watch RuPaul’s Drag Queen Race on TV — or you could just head to Toronto’s premier Drag Bar to see the action up close and personal. The safe and open environment offers laughs, karaoke nights, and a lot of fun to be had.

1.  Woody’s and Sailor
Dubbed Toronto’s gay equivalent to the bar in the show “Cheers,” the friendly gay bar opened its doors in 1989. Offering drag shows every night during Pride Month and the weekend of the parade, the bar turns into a local meet-up and hang out spot where you will want to take lots of selfies.

Jax Irwin

Radio Host, KiSS 92.5

5. “Queer West” (West Queen West)
On the opposite side to where the village is, from Bathurst to Gladstone streets in the city’s west end, this neighbourhood dubbed “Queer West” is known to be Toronto’s art and design district. More known for its unique clothing shops, street art and galleries, the area is an artistic and unique way to discover pride without being in the thick of it all.

4. O’Grady’s Restaurant
The family-friendly restaurant offers your traditional food and drink options, but adds in an extra large patio to take it all in. Check out the website for their pride weekend event and food guide. Open until 2 am.

3. Yes Yes Ya’ll
Yes Yes Ya’ll’s block parties are known to be epic. And they’re free! Probably one of the most vibrant outdoor dance and music bashes, head to the OLG Centre Stage in the village and just see what happens. Their pride parties are legendary.

2. The Village
It’s the historic urban area for Toronto’s LGBTQ+ community, in the heart of downtown Toronto. And while there are specific spots in the village that you definitely have to see and try, walking around the entire area is an experience on its own. Being that it’s car-free during pride weekend is also a plus.

1. Pride Parade
The 38th annual Pride Parade kicks off at 2 pm from the corner of Church and Bloor streets all the way down Yonge Street to Yonge-Dundas Square. Over 1 million festival-goers and many more watching will see colourful costumes, choreography, music and everything glam.



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