Capital Pride’s Biggest Celebration Yet

All photos by Aaron Hemens

This year’s Capital Pride festival is shaping up to be the biggest one to date, with the week-long celebration pumping out an event everyday up until the Capital Pride Parade on Sunday, Aug. 26.

Starting on Sunday, Aug. 19, sixteen signature events organized by Capital Pride will be strewn throughout the National Capital Region, along with over 75 community events that are coordinated by local organizations. Toby Whitfield, the Capital Pride chairperson, said that the goal for this year’s Capital Pride is to not only bring people together to meet and connect, but to allow others to celebrate who they are and to create space for people to be themselves. 

“What I hope is that people are able to enjoy, take advantage of the festival and have a great time,” Whitfield said.

Upgrades to the festival include an extra day expansion to Bank Street fair—which has also been stretched along Bank St. and Somerset St.—from Saturday, Aug. 25 to Sunday, Aug. 26.

The Pride Parade itself features a new record of 150 participating groups, compared to last year’s 130.

“When we started planning for our 2018 festival, we definitely set our sights on organizing the Capital’s largest Pride festival, and I think you’ll find that we’re on track to deliver that,” Whitfield said.

Other notable events taking place over the Pride Parade weekend include performances from several local and international artists from the LGBTQ2+ community at the fair’s TD Mainstage, and the Drag Show Extravaganza with a special performance by The Vixen, a drag performer who competed on RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars. Event-goers can also enjoy a family picnic, the flag raising ceremonies in Gatineau and Ottawa, a youth art showcase, a Gatineau Pride Party and The Rainbow Party.

New additions to this year’s festival includes a TD Block Party in Aberdeen Square at Lansdowne Park on Wednesday, Aug. 22, followed by a Pride themed Nature Nocturne event at the Canadian Museum of Nature two days later. The 2018 Capital Pride Pageant on Thursday, Aug. 23 at the Delta City Centre Hotel is also anticipated to be a big draw, where local drag performers compete for the titles of Mr. Capital Pride, Ms. Capital Pride and Mx. Capital Pride, with a special guest performance from Aja, another drag performer from RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars.

“What we’re trying to do is offer a variety of different events so that there’s always something for everything to join in and celebrate,” Whitfield said. Whitfield added that while audiences can expect a fun and vibrant celebration, he also stressed the importance of using Pride as a time of reflection.

“I think that taking a week, in our case, and highlighting it—focussing on the LGBTQ2+ community—is important to me because often folks aren’t seen or celebrated or reflected outside of Pride celebrations,” he said. "So it’s appropriate that we take time each year to celebrate the community.”