Pride Toronto (June 1–30, 2023) is one of the best times of year to visit Toronto, with an extensive program of events, marches, rallies and parties that transform Church-Wellesley Village into a nonstop wonderland of 2SLGBTQ+ festivities.
Festival Weekend (June 23–25, 2023) is a big draw, but the celebrations don’t stop there. Whether you’re the life of the party, a devoted hedonist, style-savvy fashionista or lover of contemporary art, queer-friendly Toronto has more in store during Pride and year-round. Here’s where to find it.
The Party Monster
The party monster is never short on thrills at Pride, which brims with jubilant parties, high-spirited one-off events and exuberant crowds that can satisfy even the wildest of Pride-goers.
If you’re looking to add more queer-centric and club-ready music to your collection, Dead Dog Records on Church Street has an extensive vinyl catalogue that spans genres and generations from the likes of Diana Ross to Doja Cat.
You’ll likely be a patio regular at O’Grady’s and Church St. Garage throughout Pride Weekend. These two gastropubs are notable cornerstones in the Village party scene. Countless hangovers have been nursed in either, with deliciously satisfying servings of burgers, homestyle fries and crispy chicken wings.
Your evening will undoubtedly begin with a drag show at Crews & Tangos, where you’ll be glamoured and bewitched with campy renditions of iconic gay power ballads and Top 40 chart-toppers. Then, enjoy the best places to visit in Toronto at night.
The Social Savant
For the social savant, Pride is all about schmoozing and showing face—so you’ll want to be sure that your skincare is up to standard. Make Apothecary on Church Street your wellness haven, as they stock every beauty essential, from all-natural scrubs and haircare to body balms and butters.
If you’re in the mood for a bite, find yourself a prime spot at Hair of the Dog, an intimate pub with garden and rooftop patios that provide a bird’s-eye view of The Village. When you’re ready for cocktails, visit The Well or Woody’s and Sailor for a highly social affair. But if you’re in the mood for theatrical drag performances, plan for the signature cocktails at The Drink instead.
Pride Toronto can be many things: a joyous celebration of one’s identity, an ideal environment for creating and sustaining community… or the perfect backdrop for life’s ultimate pleasures. For the hedonist at heart, the pleasure principle is primary during festival weekend.
Before jumping into the weekend’s debaucheries, detour to Northbound Leather, Toronto’s go-to boutique for subversive BDSM gear and apparel. This queer-friendly shop in the heart of downtown has been a cultural institution since 1987. Round off your Pride shopping experience at Church Street’s Out on the Street, which offers pleasure-friendly apparel and accessories for your every desire.
For dinner, we suggest O.Noir for an unrivaled, exotic culinary experience where you’ll defy your senses by dining in absolute pitch darkness (and a fun date idea in Toronto). It will warm you up for a night out at The Black Eagle, home of Toronto’s gay fetish community and the last surviving BDSM and leather bar in Church-Wellesley Village.
The Fashion Lover
As Canada’s fashion capital, Toronto is home to the country’s most illustrious fashion institutions. They’re a must-see for any fashion lover visiting the city on a Toronto vacation.
The Bata Shoe Museum houses and displays over 14,000 footwear-affiliated objects and artifacts, while the Textile Museum of Canada exhibits the work of local, national and international contemporary textile artists.
If you want to make a powerful sartorial statement, a shopping trip to Toronto’s designer fashion mecca, Yorkville, is most certainly in order. For closet-worthy avant-garde pieces from emerging international designers, hit up the WDLT117 concept store on Thomas Street.
If you’re seeking something more understated, 119 Corbo has a thoughtfully curated collection of minimalist womenswear and accessories that are bound to become your go-to wardrobe staples.
Stop by the Fashion District’s fashionably minimal Sara for post-shopping dinner and drinks. Once you’re back in The Village, we suggest Boutique Bar for a round of sophisticated cocktails before heading over to Pride’s fashion-worthy balls.
The Arts Connoisseur
If you’ve come to Pride in search of an authentically queer cultural experience, this year’s celebrations are packed with artistic events and programming. As a city rich with creative artists, a thriving music scene and an innovative film industry, Toronto is undoubtedly Canada’s cultural hotspot.
Kickoff Pride month at the Inside Out 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival (May 25–June 4, 2023), Canada’s largest 2SLGBTQ+ film fest focusing on queer cinema from Canada and around the world.
During bustling Pride Weekend, take a calming respite from the weekend crowds in cozy Glad Day Bookshop, the oldest surviving queer bookstore in the world and Toronto’s 2SLGBTQ+ cultural hub.
Head north on Church Street for dinner and cocktails at the always eclectic Smith restaurant before wrapping up your night at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, which has an exciting line-up of queer performances and festivities throughout its Queer Pride! 2023 festival (and year-round).
Stay tuned to the Toronto Pride 2023 page for updates on when and where to acquaint yourself with new and familiar faces while experiencing the best of 2SLGBTQ+ Pride in Toronto.