Vancouver Island’s LGBTQ2+ support has grown over the past few years. Pride celebrations are thriving and expanding from Victoria all the way north to Port Hardy. Pride events, held throughout the summer allow travellers to plan a trip will showcase some of the most picturesque naturescapes in Canada, and celebrate its equally diverse people. Whether it’s a short day trip from the mainland by way of the ferries or a longer stay, there are events for all ages, identities, and walks of life.
Nanaimo hosts its Pride celebrations on the traditional land and territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. #ExploreNanaimo for its natural beauty, enjoy a world famous Nanaimo Bar on the Nanaimo Bar Trail and stay for the annual Pride Week which begins with Yoga for Pride June 2nd. This free event is hosted by Amethyst Forest & Spiritual Spa, ABCYOGA, Alice Curitz Counselling Services and Grusecki Yoga & Wellness and is geared toward multiple levels of fitness.
City officials, local celebrities, and community members will raise the Pride flag at the annual Flag Raising at Nanaimo City Hall on June 4th at 6 pm. Make your way over to the Vault Cafe, located in Nanaimo’s historic downtown core, for community favourite Drag Bingo hosted by Adam Lamborghini and featuring performances by Wig. Nanaimo Pride Week has something for everyone including comedy shows starring Steev Letts, Vicki Smudge, and Randii Andii, and a Pride Ride hosted by the Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club. This year’s youth event featuring DJ The, will be hosted June 5th at the German hall.
Nanaimo also hosts a parade happening on June 9th, an adults-only dance June 8th at Bowen Auditorium and one of the largest festivals on Vancouver Island. The festival showcases local entertainment, vendors, food trucks and artisan crafters. There will be special guest appearances announced on the Nanaimo Pride Society’s Facebook page. Last but not least, Nanaimo is also home to LARJ Events’ Third Annual Pride Party, which sells out every year.
Visiting Port Alberni between June 1st and June 16th? Kick off your trip with the Rainbow Connection Fashion Show on June 1st at 7pm. After that, the annual Youth Pride Dance is happening on June 14th and the Family Pride Picnic is on June 15th from 12-2pm. Port Alberni Pride finishes up later that evening at 8pm at the 19+ AV Pride Dance. There is also an Inclusive Swim June 16th, location to be determined. Find out more detail about these events at Alberni Valley Pride’ Facebook page.
Campbell River’s 5th Annual Pride Festival is hosted by the North Island Pride Society in partnership with the Tidemark Theatre. It will be held Saturday, June 22nd, from 11am to 3pm in Spirit Square in downtown Campbell River. It is a market-style festival featuring vendors, art-making activities, workshops, performers, and a number of special guests, including Drag Queen Story Hour and more. The Campbell River Pride Party—a youth friendly drag show—is held at the Tidemark Theatre. Detailed information on these events will be available in June on North Island Pride’s Facebook page.
Comox Valley’s Pride Week is from July 22nd to July 27th. Pride week kicks off with raising multiple Pride Flags throughout the Comox Valley followed by a free Public Swim on July 22nd. Comox has three new events this year: Drag Queen Bingo, Pride Night at the Sid Williams Theatre featuring a Drag Show and Magician for one low price, and Comedy Night at the Avalanche Bar. Visit the Comox Valley on July 27th for Pride in the Park from 12 pm to 5 pm at Simms Millennium Park. The event features a Special performance by the Kumugwe Dancers and much more! They finish off their week with a Pride Dance – Express Yourself. Visit www.comoxvalleypride.ca for the location and time of all events.
This year’s Victoria Pride festivities begin with the Youth Pride Kick Off 2019 Party on June 22nd. After this, all are welcome to participate in the Annual Memorial Dragball Game is on July 1st, from 12 pm to 3 pm. Pet lovers are invited to bring out their dogs for the Big Gay Dog Walk on the evening of July 5th. On July 6th, 19+ folx are invited to learn about the history of Pride and enjoy a drink and dance at Night Shift: Pride, sponsored in part by The Royal BC Museum and Atomique Productions. The 26th Annual Victoria Pride Parade, hosted on on the traditional territories of the WSÁNEĆ (Saanich), Lkwungen (Songhees), and Wyomilth (Esquimalt) peoples of the Coast Salish Nation, will be held on July 7th at 11 am. This parade is currently the largest Pride of its kind on Vancouver Island. Find out more at victoriapridesociety.org/events.
Smaller Vancouver Island communities like Salt Spring Island, Port Hardy, and Cowichan are still in the planning stages of their local Pride events, with details to be posted as we head into the summer. Start off with story time with a Drag Queen, eat locally sourced artisanal concoctions at park festivals, and dance your feet off at some of the largest and brightest glitter-crusted rainbow parties around. No matter the itinerary, there’s an inclusive celebration to join. Visit our how to get here and where to stay pages to plan your trip with ease.
Author: Cheryl Folland received her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Vancouver Island University. She writes primarily non-fiction and poetry and is based in Nanaimo.
Cover photo courtesy of Toni Reed on Unsplash