Toronto Pride 2011

Toronto Pride 2011 preview

Pride 2011 is almost upon Toronto, and although Mayor Rob Ford's going to miss out on the fun, there's lots to see and do in addition to the annual parade. Between now and July 3rd (when the main event takes place), there's set to be a series of parties, street festivals, performances and other parades taking place throughout the city. In other words, there's a lot to do.

In addition to the events recommended below, be sure to check out the Pride Toronto website. And, if you're an iPhone user, there's a mobile app for the festival that provides event listings, location maps, and various social media links.

Official Launch Party of Pride 2011
Pride gets officially underway with a launch party at the Phoenix featuring Creature and the Cliks as well as DJsDeko-ze and Cajjmere Wray (CCW). Despite the musical talents, the burlesque show may, however, prove the highlight of the night. June 23rd, 8pm. Tickets are $27.95 in advance and $35 at the door.

Vampire Lesbians of Sodom
Charles Busch's play about two vampire lesbians in competition with one another has become something of cult classic (as far as plays go). The Toronto edition takes place at the Lower Ossington Theatre under the direction of Jessica M. Rose. And, those who dress up as a vampires (or who just are vampires) will get a discount on admission. June 23rd - July 2nd. Tickets $25 via the box office (416.915.6747 ext. 222)

The Amazing Pride Race
As the title indicates, this is like television's Amazing Race but organized around Pride venues and the Village. Gays and straights are welcome, and all funds raised will go to the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation. Participants can register as individuals or teams (between two-five members). June 25th, 1:00-4:30 p.m. Tickets are $21 per person and can be bought here.

Street Fair
The Pride Street Fair runs over the course of the weekend (July 1st-3rd) in the Village, and features artists, artisans, community organizations and food booths. Those who want to explore what's on offer in the absence of crowds should show up early — the street gets packed later in the day. Hours: July 1 (6 p.m. to 12 a.m.), July 2 (11 a.m. to 12 a.m.) and July 3 (11 a.m. to 11 p.m.).

Oh Manada: Male Burlesque Show and Pride Party
Look for irreverent and erotic takes on cultural icons and classic tales like Roch Carrier's the Hockey Sweater, the NFB's Waltz with the Log Driver, or National Anthem, and — wait for it — a Tim Horton's double/double. Following the event there will be dance party where attendees can work on their burlesque skills. July 1st, Lee's Palace. Doors at 8:30 p.m. $20 for the show and dance party, $5 for the dance party (after 10:30)

The Beef Ball!
Look out for leather. And bears. The annual Beef Ball, held at the Opera House, will feature DJs Neill MacLeod and Cory and comes advertised as "Canada's largest Leather and Bear Pride event." Tickets are $40 in advance and can be found at Northbound Leather and Priape. July 2nd, 10 p.m.

Toronto Dyke March
The Dyke March has grown over the years, and now attracts upwards of 5000 marchers (and tons more spectators). Taking a different route than the main parade the next day, the march starts at Church and Hayden Streets, heads up to Bloor before heading down Yonge to Wood Street. July 2nd, 2:00 p.m.

2011 Pride Parade
The culmination of the week-long festival, the Pride Parade boasts huge attendance figures and costumes to rival Caribana (oops, the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival), the best of which are awarded prizes. There'll be water-guns, floats, marching bands, and lots of buff dudes showing off for the throngs of onlookers. As fun as it all is, the parade is as much a political demonstration of confidence as it is a celebration of queerness. July 3rd, 2:00 p.m. Parade route below.

Photo by scienceduck in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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