12 ways to celebrate during the Calgary Pride Festival

Aug 24 2021, 4:30 pm

COVID-19 continues to present a risk to public health. While restrictions have been lifted across Alberta, it is recommended to continue practicing health and safety measures, including frequent hand-washing, wearing a mask on public transit, at City facilities, and in healthcare settings, and staying home if you are sick.

The Calgary Pride Festival runs from August 27 to September 6 this year, and there are lots of ways to celebrate and show your support across the city.

According to the Calgary Pride website, YYC’s first Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival occurred in June 1988 in honour of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York. The first Calgary Pride Parade took place on June 16, 1991.

Participation by the city’s LGBTQ2S+ community and allies in the annual Pride festival and parade grew exponentially over the years. In 2009 Calgary Pride moved the parade from June to the September long weekend, in hopes of better weather and more tourists. That year, it also transitioned from a grassroots collective to an incorporated non-profit society.

This year, the Calgary Pride Festival has returned with both in-person and online programming at many locations across the city.

Here are 12 ways to celebrate during the Calgary Pride Festival.

B!G Pride

What: The main event! Calgary Pride has paired up with B!G ART to bring this year’s festival to the TELUS Spark Drive-In, online, and around Calgary.

Calgary Pride 2021 features a variety of LGBTQ2S+ artists, online Pride Cast podcast-style episodes every Friday throughout August, and five days of in-person and live-streamed entertainment at the B!G ART Drive-In, all leading up to Parade Day at the Drive-In on September 5.

At the B!G ART Drive-In, attendees will catch special showings of movies like Heathers and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, enhanced by drag performances and a live shadow cast, plus double features by Theatre Calgary, a folk music concert, a burlesque show, and more.

When: August 27 to September 6
Time: Varies by event
Where: The B!G ART Drive-In (located at the TELUS Spark Centre at 220 St George’s Drive NE), online, and around Calgary
Cost: Varies by event; tickets can be found online

Enjoy a drink at Thomsons Kitchen & Bar

Calgary Pride

Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Calgary

What: Downtown Calgary’s Thomsons Kitchen & Bar has created a feature cocktail in celebration of Pride. Sample their Pride & Unprejudiced drink, and know that you’re doing some good while you imbibe, with $1 from every sale of the cocktail going to Calgary Pride.

When: Available now
Where: Thomsons Kitchen & Bar (located in the Hyatt Regency Calgary at 700 Centre Street S)
Cost: $14

Shaw Pride Marches On art walk installations at Central Memorial Park


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What: The Shaw Pride Marches On art installation program gathered participation from four 2SLGBTQ+, BIPOC, and ally artist teams to create temporary art mural installations at the four corner entrances to Memorial Park in celebration of Calgary Pride, making this Beltline park even more beautiful.

When: On now
Where: Central Memorial Park (1221 2nd Street SW)
Cost: Free

Get your sweat on with HIGH Fitness

Calgary Pride

Courtesy of HIGH Fitness

What:  HIGH Fitness is planning the city’s first ever Pride Aerobics class. The event will be set to everyone’s favourite Pride anthems, and prizes will be given out throughout the morning. Participants only need to bring proper athletic footwear, a water bottle and sweat towel, and their most spirited Pride look to this epic aerobics workout.

When: September 4
Time: Doors at 10:30, with kick off at 11 am
Where: The B!G ART Drive-In (located at the TELUS Spark Centre at 220 St George’s Drive NE)
Cost: $25, with all proceeds going to Pride

Sip cocktails for a good causing with Stir, Shake & Strainbow

Alberta pride

Cocktails from Proof, Dandy Brewing Co., and Ten Foot Henry (Courtesy of Shake, Stir & Strainbow/Eat North)

What: In support of the Skipping Stone Foundation, Eat North has launched the Shake, Stir & Strainbow cocktail campaign for the fourth year in a row. More than 50 restaurants and bars across Alberta have created Pride-themed feature cocktails that are available to order through September 3, with a minimum of $1 from each going towards Skiing Stone.

When: August 13 to September 3
Where: 50+ participating locations across Alberta
Cost: Varies by location

Shop at the Virtual Marketplace

What: Calgary Pride and its partners around the city are offering special features, products, deals, a 50/50 and online auction, and more in support of the work that the organization does. Check out the virtual marketplace now to browse these limited-time offers.

When: August 27 to September 6
Where: Online at calgarypride.ca, and at locations around the city
Cost: Varies by purchase

Vegfest: Outdoor Drag Show

What: Vegfest is hosting a drag show and musical performance on the day of their own festival, which creates a welcoming space for celebration and education surrounding veganism. Additionally, $1 from every Pride drink sold in their beer gardens will be donated to Calgary Pride.

When: September 4
Time: Event runs noon to 7 pm
Where: Shaw Millenium Park (1220 9th Avenue SW)

The Paddle Station’s Annual Pride Float


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What: The Paddle Station invites Calgarians to get out on the river and participate in their annual Pride Float. Rent a floatie, deck it out in your favourite Pride gear, and hit the Bow.

When: August 28
Time: 5 to 8 pm
Where: The Paddle Station/Bow River (starting point at 5227 13th Avenue NW)
Cost: Varies by size and type of raft rental

Otafest: The Big Gay Anime Night

What: Join Otafest at the Globe Cinema for an evening of LGBTQ anime, cosplay contests, and a silent auction.

When: September 4
Time: 5 pm
Where: Globe Cinema (617 8th Avenue SW)
Cost: Free admission, with donations and accepted going towards Otafest and Calgary Pride.

Ghost River Theatre 2SLGBTQ+ Artist’s Showcase

What: Visit Ghost River Theatre at this showcase in support of local 2SLGBTQ+ artists.

When: September 4
Time: 7 to 9 pm
Where: Ghost River Theatre
Cost: Tickets available on a pay-what-you-can model

Vogue Dance Class at the Esker Foundation

What: Take in a free dance class with a focus on the vogue style at the Esker Foundation. Additionally, for the duration of Calgary Pride, Esker will present a pop-up space in their bookshop showcasing titles reflecting on the history of Pride.

When: August 29
Time: 1 to 2:30 pm
Where: Esker Foundation (1011 9th Avenue SE, fourth floor)
Cost: Free

Snap some new content at The CORE’s Gram Garden


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A post shared by CORE Shopping (@coreshopping)

What: If your Instagram game has felt a little boring lately, look no further than The CORE Shopping Centre. The downtown Calgary mall has set up a picture-perfect “Gram Garden,” and it’s got a “Pride Party” theme on now until September 6.

When: On now through September 6
Time: Mall hours (11 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 pm on Sundays)
Where: The CORE Shopping Centre (324 8th Avenue SW, Calgary)
Cost: Free

Elle McLeanElle McLean

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