Let me start out by saying that there are waaaay more than 5 things to look forward to at Pride! Last year, I put together a list of as many events as I could find, but this year, the Victoria Pride Society has done that work: check out their events page for a comprehensive list of Pride events in the city!
Other pages to watch for queer events this Pride season (and beyond) are:
- Any of these LGBTQ+ Meetup groups
- Queer News: Victoria and Vancouver Island
- Queer Outdoors – Victoria and Vancouver Island; Queer Climbers of Victoria, BC
- SNAQCS (Cycloadventure Pals)
- Staches and Lashes Collective Events
- Queer Quills Writing Group
These websites have lists and maps of public all-gender/gender neutral washrooms, with accessibility information: guide to public toilets in downtown Victoria; thrones for everyone (Tourism Victoria). I’ll do my best to include any additional accessibility info I can find.
Anyway, scroll those lists and pages for drag, workshops and panels, youth events, nights out, alt pride, outdoor events, and more. Here are the events I’m most looking forward to this year (warning: a few more than 5 may find their way in)!
Drag Ball – July 1, Vic West Park
From the event page: “One of Victoria Pride’s signature events, the Memorial Drag Ball Game traces its roots back to 1993. A group of friends, several of them drag performers, were grieving the loss of many in the community from HIV/AIDS. They wanted a day to forget about that reality, about politics and to play a game.
They have returned to that game every year since. “
These days, hundreds of people come out to the park, with friends, dogs, and kids to enjoy a softball game where the players are in drag and the rules are irrelevant. Anyone can join in! Bring a blanket to sit on, snacks, and drinks if you want to get a little buzzed 😉 There’s a grocery store and liquor store right by the park.
The baseball diamond is right off a paved pathway. There’s a building with two washrooms which I believe have stalls, and the Starbucks nearby has an all-gender washroom.
Big Gay Dog Walk – July 5, Dallas Road
This is certainly the *cutest* Pride event! Bring your dog or bring your pup-loving friends! Expects lots of great PAWstumes and a group walk down beautiful Dallas Road. Event page.
We walk/roll along a paved pathway. There are washrooms at Cook and Dallas – “not accessible due to the size of the building and the step needed to get inside of it”, and 100 Cook St. (Beacon Hill) – “stall is semi-accessible, lacking depth but having a handrail”.
MEC Victoria Pride Paddle – July 6, Willows Beach
As far as I know this is a new event, taking place at gorgeous Willows Beach in Oak Bay. BYOB – bring your own boat (kayak, paddle board, etc.), plus a life jacket, or sign up here for a free demo. It starts off with a group float, followed by some discounted clinics!
The Lesbian/Bi/Queer Women’s Meetup group has a picnic on the beach at noon as well!
Online, it says that Willows Beach is wheelchair accessible, but I don’t remember exactly what access to the beach looks like. There’s a paved walkway along the road, by the beach. The park beside the beach has gendered washrooms and changerooms, with stalls.
Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach at this time of year. (On the water with you may be a different story!)
Saturday Night – July 6
Ok so this isn’t an event per se! I’m specifically excited for Backdoor Victoria Pride. Their events page explains it best: ” Backdoor Victoria Pride is a one-night pop-up party where queers from all over the PNW converge on Victoria. Seattle, the lower mainland, and Vancouver Island fairies unite to leave our labels behind and enter the Backdoor. Join us in a totally-out-of-this-world Pride Party Palace of desire, love, and magic. This is a party where everyone is welcome – boys, girls, squirrels, femmes, mens, theys, thems, ladies, babies, grannies and daddies!
🌊This is a 4 room party including a 3 rooms of music, a lounge, an amphitheatre, an attic, and a curated 420 patio! Special PNW Drag Show at 9:30pm! 🌊 “
Last year was really fun, and it really feels different from any other queer night out in Victoria. Sadly, it’s sold out, but they’ll be releasing 100 more tickets at 5pm on July 3rd.
I can’t find accessibility info on this venue online, but will update if I do.
If you don’t get a Backdoor ticket, don’t fret! There are SO many great options: Night Shift: Pride at the Royal BC Museum, Drag Bingo at Paparazzi, Crush queer dance party, a gay play, and a Big Gay After Party Roller Disco after the roller derby Pride double header! Earlier that evening is also Pride in the Word, where LGBTQ+ writers from the province and across Canada read some of their work.
The Pride Parade – July 7, downtown and James Bay
You know the drill! The parade starts at 11, so gear up with a big breakfast (and a mimosa?!) and head downtown early if you want to find a good spots. The route follows the road by the Inner Harbour (last year we even caught the Harbour Ferry Water Ballet while waiting), and then winds through James Bay for the festival at MacDonald Park. The festival lineup includes Ange Hehr and Queer as Funk, as well as drag storytime in the Kids Zone! Lots to check out.
We’ve had good luck the past couple of years sitting across the street from the Empress Hotel. In my experience, it hasn’t been too crowded, we’ve had a good chunk of sidewalk space (we arrived early, but have never had people standing directly behind us), and have never been squished or shoved. Bathrooms are tricky to find during the parade. The festival takes place in a fairly flat, grassy park, where there are outhouses.
Alt Pride: Community Care as Resistance is happening on July 6th at the Fernwood Community Centre. Detailed accessibility info is available on the event page.
If you still have energy after the parade, check out Femmepire at Copper Owl: “The only PRIDE event celebrating womxn, non-binary, and GNC artists from across the gender spectrum! … our event is a QUEER/INTERSECTIONAL-FEMINIST/TRANS space which is HET/CIS **FRIENDLY**. Take your transphobic/misogynist/free-speacher/racist/otherwise bigoted beliefs elsewhere and shove it!”
The venue has a large set of stairs on entry, limiting accessibility, but there are seats reserved for those who need them.
Whatever you end up doing, have a wonderful Pride!