Rainbow-coloured balloon awnings, fabulous drag queens, leather daddies: From the scantily-clad to the elaborately-headdressed, Vancouver's Pride Parade is a magnificent display of diversity, spirit, creativity, and unity, and one of the city's can't-miss summer events.
If you're new to Vancouver, are visiting in late-July / early-August, or are attending the Pride Parade for the first time, here are the four things you need to know about Vancouver Pride:
1. It All Happens in the West End
If you're looking for accommodations near Vancouver Pride events, look in the West End. The West End is the neighborhood that borders Stanley Park in Downtown Vancouver; it's also the historic center of Vancouver's LGBT+ community (particularly the area around Davie Street). In fact, the Vancouver Pride Parade began as a protest march through Davie Village--in the West End--in 1978. Vancouver's best LGBT+ nightlife is in the West End, too.
2. The Vancouver Pride Parade is Part of Pride Week
Vancouver Pride Week--organized by the Vancouver Pride Society, and always held in late July / early August--is a week of Pride events culminating in the Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival. The Top 5 Vancouver Pride Events include the Davie Street Block Party (for people 19+) and the family-friendly Pride Picnic in Stanley Park.
3. Details of the Vancouver Pride Parade & Festival
The Vancouver Pride Parade is a world-class Pride celebration, with over 150 float and parade entries and over 700,000 attendees. The Pride Festival that follows the Parade, at Sunset Beach, attracts thousands.
The Parade starts in Downtown Vancouver, at Robson and Bute, and winds its way through the West End, culminating at Sunset Beach, where the party continues with a Festival of vendors, live music, beer gardens, and more.
- When: Pride Parade, Sunday, July 31, 2016, 12pm - 3pm
- Pride Festival, Sunday, July 31, 2016, beginning at 2pm
- Where: The Pride Parade route begins at Robson St. and Bute in Downtown Vancouver, proceeds west on Robson St. to Denman St., then south to Beach Ave., ending at Sunset Beach, where the Pride Festival takes place.
- Getting to the Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival: Like the Celebration of Light Fireworks and other huge downtown events, driving (and parking) will be extremely difficult. Take the bus, Canada Line/SkyTrain (Granville Station is within easy walking distance of the Parade starting point), or walk.
With more than a half-million spectators and participants expected, space along the route will be at a premium. Go early to ensure a good spot. If you can't go early, head to the end of the route at Sunset Beach; it's less crowded and you can still see all the floats.
4. LGBT+ Friendly Accommodations in the West End
Most accommodations in Vancouver are LGBT+ friendly, and that is especially true for the West End. So, generally speaking, you should feel comfortable at any Vancouver hotel or rental.
But for proximity to Vancouver Pride events, I recommend these accommodations:
- The Sylvia Hotel - Vancouver's only beachfront Downtown hotel, and one of the Top 10 Hotels in Downtown Vancouver.
- The Loden Hotel - A trendy boutique hotel in scenic Coal Harbour, just at the edge of Stanley Park and very close to the West End / Pride events.
- The Listel Hotel - One of the Vancouver Pride Society's "partner" hotels, this stylish boutique hotel also exhibits art and has a great sense of place.
- Times Square Suites & Rosellen Suites - Two family-friendly budget options that offer apartment-style suites in the West End.
- AirBnB or VRBO - you can always book a rental through AirBnB or VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner); use "West End" in your search and make note of the address.