Rest up, then dress up – it’s that special time of year again when both the naughty and nice converge for Pride celebrations in the nation’s capital. Pride Week runs Jul 5-11.
Pride is the fourth largest festival in the national capital region and last year 55,000 people turned out for the event. According to the Pride Committee, that brought in an estimated $500,000 for local businesses.
“We’re expecting 55,000 to 75,000 [this year], in part because we have done a major advertising campaign in the US and because the US dollar is so much better than the Canadian. That’s kind of an encouragement for people to come up for our festival,” says Shannon Salisbury, communications coordinator for the Pride Committee.
The theme for this year’s celebration is Still Growing, Still Proud.
“We aren’t just growing in size, we’re also growing in maturity as a community and [the Pride Committee] as an organization,” says Salisbury, “We’re at a point where we’re not just taking to the streets in protest, but we’re doing it in celebration.”
And celebrate we will! Again this year Pride Committee staff and volunteers have worked furiously to organizer a week of diverse and decadent events.
The Big Shiny Ball is back on Sat, Jul 10 at the National Arts Centre. This year, the Bruce House fundraiser will double as the official Pride party with profits going to both organizations.
“Working with Bruce House is an excellent opportunity to maintain really strong connections within the community in Ottawa and to show solidarity with our community,” says Salisbury.
Pride promises something special this year for women – certainly “more than just a walk in the park.” The first annual Women’s Day on Sat, Jul 10 kicks off with a picnic and a day-long schedule of family-friendly, women-only and all-inclusive events. And not to compete with Pride Committee events, but to celebrate camaraderie of queer folk at Pride – and provide a special highlight for women – a group of independent organizers are staging a Dyke March.
Pride Day can be hectic and with grown-ups’ energy and enthusiasm pumped, often the kids eventually long for a break from their parents. The always-popular Kids Kamp is back, both at the Women’s Day picnic and at the main festival site on Pride Day.
And the Pride Committee hasn’t forgotten about other young adults, especially those between the ages of 14 and 25, who also have their own celebrations this year. Generation Sensation events spread throughout Pride Week.
Salisbury finds the new events for youth and women the most exciting changes this year.
“[It’s great] in terms of having a whole day dedicated to women, and just the fact that women’s and youth’s issues, specifically, are being given a lot more attention within the Pride organization and within the community as a whole,” she says.
Of course, the weeklong celebrations lead up to the big day – Pride Day – on Sun, Jul 11.
The Pride Parade will start at noon at the corner of Elgin and Catherine Sts, ending at the street party on Bank St. Last year’s attendees will recognize the route.
Thousands of marchers and floats from a wide range of businesses and community groups will make their way north on Elgin St to Wellington St, where the parade turns west. The parade will pass in front of the Parliament Buildings and continue on to Bank St, where it will turn south.
The pomp and pageantry of the march concludes on Bank St at Gloucester, where the crowd will flow into the cordoned-off seven-block area for the street party that runs south to Lewis St.
And you’d better wear jogging shoes because the entertainment line-up this year will have you running between the north and south stages, not wanting to miss a beat.
The line up of performers is long and impressive. Check out Capital Xtra’s Ultimate Pride Guide for a list of performers – but for up-to-date performance times check out stage listings at the festival site to ensure you don’t miss your favorites.
For more information, check out www.prideottawa.com.