The Calgary Pride Festival has come a long way. What began as a rally in 1990 when people had to conceal their identities by covering their faces, has evolved into a 10-day festival with hundreds of all-ages and all-inclusive activities, talks and parties happening throughout the city. This year, the festival begins on August 24 with the raising of the Pride Flag at City Hall Plaza at noon and culminates over Labour Day long-weekend with the Pride Parade and Pride in the Park on September 2.
Here are some of the top events including ones that are free and family-friendly. Many also support local LGBTQ+ organizations. All are encouraged to come as you are.
(August 24 to September 2)
Take a photo of the Calgary Pride crosswalk
Since 2016, the arrival of the rainbow crosswalk has marked the beginning of Calgary Pride season. Visit it at the intersection of 8th Avenue and Centre Street or look down at it from the top of the Calgary Tower. Look for ATB and Fiasco Gelato dishing out free scoops near the crosswalk on Wednesday, August 29 from noon to 1 p.m.
Drink beer and cocktails that support local organizations
As part of Shake, Stir & Strainbow, 30 bars around Calgary have created Pride-inspired beers or cocktails that will be available during the festival (or until they run out). One dollar from each drink sold goes to a local queer-support organization such as Calgary Outlink or the Skipping Stone Foundation. At both Leopold’s Tavern locations you can get Cold Garden‘s Taste the Rainbow sour ale made from Skittles, guava and passion fruit. Other drinks include Trolley 5 Brewpub‘s blood orange wit Inclusion Ale, Two Penny Chinese‘s Yaas Karen cocktail topped with sour gummie worms, and Alloy‘s The Granada cocktail rimmed with pink pomegranate salt.
Buy a pair of rainbow socks from Friday Sock Co. or a hat from Alberta Apparel
Some Calgary-based designers have made some awesome new rainbow duds. Stay comfy in Friday Sock Co.‘s “Love is Love” rainbow socks made from Egyptian cotton. Alberta Apparel‘s hats rock a rainbow bear on the front and $5 from each sale goes to the Centre for Sexuality and Camp fYrefly. They’re sold at albertaapparel.com and at Steeling Home, Stuff and Meraki Supply Co.
Attend all-ages events during Pride in Vic Park
Pride in Vic Park is an all-ages celebration organized by the Calgary Queer Arts Society, Victoria Park BIA, Calgary Queer Arts Society and Calgary Pride. There will be music, talks and workshops happening at venues in Victoria Park from Saturday, August 25 to Friday, August 31. It starts with a kick-off party this weekend at Central Memorial Park followed by weekday events such as a Trans & Non-Binary 101 Session at Memorial Park Library.
(August 27 to 30)
When: Tuesday, August 28 from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.
This event at Sunnyside’s containR park is by-donation in support of the Skipping Stone Foundation. There will be a cash bar, food trucks and kids’ activities including a 30,000-ball pit. There’s also a lineup of live entertainment with dancers, musicians and drag kings and queens.
When: Wednesday, August 29 from 8 p.m. until close
During the Pink Flamingo Pride Pinball Party at Pin-Bar on 17th Avenue S.W., you can play unlimited pinball and arcade games for just $10. The main event for the evening is the “debaucherous runway extravaganza” where you can show off your best look and walk for prizes. Bathrooms will be gender neutral all night and there will be a raffle. Food and drink specials include $5 beer and a $5.50 Pink Flamingo cocktail.
Purchase tickets at showpass.com
501 17 Ave. S.W., 403-930-8175, pinbaryyc.com
FINAL PRIDE WEEKEND EVENTS
(August 31 to September 2)
When: Friday, August 31 from 7 to 10 p.m.
Outliers: Calgary’s Queer History takes a look at the historical, social and political factors that have influenced and developed the city’s queer community from the 1960s until now. The screening is happening at the Calgary Queer Arts Society and is 90 minutes long. Expect to see actual footage from Calgary Pride in the 1990s.
Secure a seat at eventbrite.ca
319 – 223 12 Ave. S.W., 403-244-1956, calgaryqueerartsociety.com
When: Saturday, September 1 starting at 3:30 p.m. (arrive early)
Cost: $24 drop-in fee includes glove rental (the class is currently half-full so book a spot soon)
Book your spot in the class at mindbodyonline.com
349 10 Ave. S.W., 587-356-3779, undrcard.com
When: Saturday, September 1 starting at 9 p.m.
Cost: $40 general admission (meet and greet is currently sold out)
Three of the top five contestants from Season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race – Kameron Michaels, Miz Cracker and Eureka O’Hara – will perform at The Palace Theatre’s 13th annual Pure Pride event. There will also be live DJs and drag performers from Calgary and Vancouver.
Purchase tickets at eventbrite.ca
219 8 Ave. S.W., 587-393-6993, thepalacetheatre.ca
When: Sunday, September 2 starting at 11 a.m.
The parade is the main event at Calgary Pride. Around 200 people will walk in unity from the East Village and down Sixth Avenue S.W. to Second Avenue S.W. near Eau Claire. Expect tens of thousands of spectators, music, colourful displays and positive energy. Check road closures before you head down.
When: Sunday, September 2 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
After the parade, walk across the river to Prince’s Island Park to continue the celebrations at Pride in the Park. There will be a family zone for kids, live on-stage music, beer gardens and an outdoor marketplace.
(August 24 to 26)
When: Friday, August 24 and Saturday, August 25 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Go to Twisted Element to see the Twisted Sisters, Calgary’s only female-identifying and queer standup comedy showcase. Friday night is a the Pride edition with a drag performance and headliner Cory Mack, the founder of YYComedy Festival. On Saturday, it’s a special drag edition where comedians and drag queens switch roles.
1006 11 Ave. S.W., 403-802-0230, twistedelement.ca
When: Friday, August 24 to Sunday, August 26
Cost: Between $50 and $140
Rent a raft, stand-up paddleboard or kayak and deck it out with colourful accessories as you float from Shouldice Park to the East Village for The Paddle Station’s Pride Raft Weekend. A portion of rental sales will be donated to the Calgary Chinook Fund.
Shouldice Park, 4900 Monserrat Dr. N.W., paddlestation.ca
When: Saturday, August 25 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Cost: $30 *There are a limited number of tickets left, so purchase now.
Buy a ticket to the Calgary Pride Tailgate Party and you also get to watch the Stampeders play against the Winnipeg Bluebombers at 1:30 p.m. The pre-game party will have a DJ, face painting and the first 100 people receive a $10 food voucher. A portion of ticket sales goes to You Can Play and Calgary Pride.
McMahon Stadium, 1817 Crowchild Tr. N.W., stampeders.com/calgarypride
When: Sunday, August 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The purpose of The Ship‘s second annual Here and Queer Patio Takeover is to gather in public somewhere that is generally deemed as a “straight” space. It’s open to all ages and we suggest getting there early to snag a seat on either patio.
534 17 Ave. S.W., 403-245-3333, facebook.com