Despite the rain and gloomy weather, hundreds of thousands of people attended this year’s 38th annual Toronto Pride Parade – marching proudly down Yonge Street, just parallel to Church Street and the gay village. In typical Pride fashion, there were rainbow coloured everything, high-energy floats with blaring music, and of course, messages of love and hope.
Pride in Toronto is a week-long (well… actually, more like a month-long) adventure filled with events throughout June, culminating to one of the largest parades of its kind in North America. Even though I live in New York City and Pride is the same weekend, I still chose to attend Pride in Toronto because I just love how the whole city comes to life and transforms to welcome everyone! There is always so much to do and the city has so much to offer. Looking back, this was my week leading up to the Pride parade…
I started with Starry Night, part of the Green Space Festival, on Wednesday night. It is a free outdoor social event in the park, right beside The 519. It was amazing seeing so many people out on a work night. It was a great way to kick off Pride and to get you in the mood to party. The only down side was having to work the next day!
Instead of doing something pride related (Yup. Taking a break already! J), we (my bf and I) decided to treat ourselves with an amazing meal at Toca Restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton. Toca is an amazing traditional Italian restaurant with dishes prepared with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. We tried the chef tasting menu and wine pairing and it was exquisite! Every bite was memorable and was something to savor. My favourite dish was Tartare Di Tonno with citrus vinaigrette, caper & olive crumble and squid ink chips – one of the best tuna tartare dishes I’ve ever had.
During the day, we continued our fine dining culinary adventures with lunch at Bosk in the Shangri-la. The best dish was the Yukon gold potato agnolotti with black truffle, chestnut and confit hen egg! The flavours come together so perfectly with each bite!
In the evening we checked A Night at the AQUEERium at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. It was super cute being able to party and drink among the fishes. The best part of the moving escalator in the fish tunnel because you can drink and not even have to worry about walking. 😛
After the Aquarium, we went to Yonge-Dundas Square to check out Pride Toronto’s headliner Kehlani. It was amazing and super crowded.
Next up was Asian Xpress at Maison Mercer (since I am Asian after all. haha). We didn’t opt to go to any of the big circuit (Prism) parties this year because I wanted to enjoy all the other Pride Toronto events!
On Saturday, we started the day healthy with the annual 5K Pride and Remembrance Run. It was raining and cold out, but it was still fun and rewarding to do something other than drink and party.
We also explored the street fair and one of the many stages with DJ performances.
The parade!!!! We also went to the TreeHouse Greenspace Party in the park by The 519. It was packed and was the place to be and to be seen!
Everything ended with the closing headliner, Brandy! Remember Brandy? The Boy is Mine… Almost Doesn’t Count… Have you Ever? She was sooooo good! She still sounds like she did back then in her albums. She is also super sweet and loves her fans. We were in the back waiting for her to exit and she made time to get selfies with everyone!
So where did I stay?
For the most part, we stayed at my condo that I still own with my ex – Brian (you can read about what happened here). We stayed one night at Hotel X in the Exhibition Grounds just west of downtown. It is part of the library Hotel Collection from New York so I wanted to check it out even for one night. The rooms are really spacious with an amazing view of the city and lake! The best feature is the rooftop pool and skybar! The fitness center is also quite huge with 4 indoor tennis courts and 9 squash courts. The location is a bit far to walk to get downtown BUT they do offer a very convenient and free pick up and drop off service to Union Station & Billy Bishop Airport.
What would I have done differently for Pride?
Nothing. It was a great weekend (other than the rain)! If it was warmer, I would have liked to check out Aqua at the Cabana Pool Bar, enjoying a cocktail with the sunset over the city’s waterfront skyline.
What am I going to do next year?
World Pride in NYC!!!!! It is also Stone Wall’s 50th anniversary so there will be a lot going on. Everyone will be coming to NYC so as much as I love Toronto, I will have to stay in my adopted city for Pride in 2019. =)
Check out Your Ultimate Guide to Toronto Pride 2018 – written by AsianMapleLeaf. It may just give you a few ideas for your 2019.