What’s the best, most colourful and fabulous way to wrap up summer? By immersing yourself in the vibe and energy of this year’s Capital Pride week.
Get ready to celebrate Ottawa’s 2SLGBT+ community loud and proud this August. Capital Pride is back from August 19 to 27, 2023, with festivities and events happening all over the city.
Under the theme of “Get Proud”, this year’s Capital Pride is a chance to celebrate and advocate for the 2SLGBT+ community. For nine days, the festival takes over the city with live entertainment, a parade a street party and a surprisingly diverse range of cultural events.
But first...a quick history lesson
Pride in Ottawa started as a picnic in Strathcona Park, attended by 50 people in June 1986. In 2005, Ottawa’s Pride festivities were moved to August to commemorate the 1971 ‘Gay Day.’ On August 27, 1971, 200 members of the 2SLGBT+ community marched to Parliament with a list of 10 demands for equality that have since been met. Gay Day is Canada’s first 2SLGBT+ Demonstration and is celebrated and commemorated across the country.
Now, Capital Pride has morphed into an over a week-long festival that aims to create opportunities to celebrate, advocate, educate and connect people across the National Capital Region.
Nine days of Capital Pride city-wide
Festivities kick off with the Capital Pride Pageant on August 19 at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre (NAC). On August 21, go to City Hall at 10 a.m. for the raising of the Pride flag. Then, close out the festival with the annual Parade and Street Party on August 27. Plus, there is so much more to do and see across the city. With two stages full of entertainment, picnics, art exhibits and so much more, celebrate, with Capital Pride this August.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your rainbow gear ready. With over 20 signature events, and activities there is so much to see and do. Not sure where to start planning which events you want to check out? Here are six things to do during this year’s Capital Pride.
Capital Pride Pageant
Who will be this year’s Mx., Mr., and Ms. Capital Pride? On August 19, the next generation of Ottawa’s top drag performers compete for the crowns at the 2023 Capital Pride Pageant at the NAC. It promises to be the drag event of the summer – and if you’ve never witnessed drag before, this is the perfect place to be wowed by the pageantry and personas of these performers as they sashay the night away and compete for a place in Capital Pride’s Royal Court.
Hosted by Ottawa’s own drag king, Cyril Cinder, the pageant will feature Kiki Coe, Manny Dingo and Hollywood Jade as judges and performances from last year’s Royal Court, Ms. Aimee Yonce Shennel, Mx. Caligula and Mr. Doctor Androbox.
If you go: CAA Members get 10% off Pride Pageant tickets with promo code CAAPride. Pageant doors open at 8 p.m. in the NAC’s Southam Hall and will be American Sign Language interpreted.
Poetry in the park
On August 23, head to Parkdale Park for an open mic poetry night. Starting at 8 p.m., the event is hosted by Jeff Shepherd, an Ottawa–based spoken word artist (as well as psychotherapist and public speaker), in collaboration with Urban Legends Poetry Collective. Listen on as Canadian 2SLGBT+ poets Salem Paige and Cassandra Myers share their words and experiences, while you enjoy an evening in the park. There will also be food provided by Ottawa Markets.
Check out the Live Entertianment
Capital Pride comes complete with live entertainment on two outdoor stages along Bank Street throughout the festival weekend. The best part? It’s totally free! With drag performances, live music on the TD Main Stage, and DJs taking over the Somerset Stage, you can enjoy live performances and music as you celebrate Pride from August 25 to 27.
Head to the TD Main Stage at Bank Street and Slater Street for live performances starting August 25. On opening night, see hip-hop duo Cartel Madras and Rapper Myst Milano as they take the stage. On August 26 at 2 p.m., the Main Stage is hosting a Drag Show Extravaganza, featuring a stellar lineup of drag performers. Including season 15 runner-up of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Anetra and Ottawa drag queen and influencer Saltina Shaker. Following the drag show, performers Mauvey and Juno Award-winning Kiesza take over the main stage. On the final day of Pride, The TD Main Stage is hosting its post-parade party, Let’s Get Loud, from 2 to 7 p.m. Later in the night, you’ll catch artists Madison Rose and Ottawa-born Jamie Fine taking over the stage and the winner of Canada’s Drag Race season two, Icesis Couture.
You’ll find the party at the Somerset Stage at Bank Street and Somerset Street. Starting August 25, the Somerset stage hosts DJs from around the world that will get you up and moving. Head to Bank and Somerset on August 25 at 7 p.m. to catch a Capital Pride alumnus and returning Australian superstar, DJ Kitty Glitter. Kitty Glitter is one of the world’s most in-demand drag DJs, bringing all the tunes to the Somerset Stage. On August 26, catch Spin that Record at 4 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. for a lineup of BIPOC artists to get you into the groove. On August 27, head to the Somerset stage for The Final Dance as Pride festivities close.
Celebrate with the whole family
Bring the whole family out to celebrate Pride this year. Capital Pride is hosting a family picnic on August 20. Head to Hintonburg Park from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate 2SLGBT+ families. Enjoy an afternoon of family-friendly events and activities. Kids will love getting their faces painted and crafting kid-friendly masterpieces. Plus, there will be a bouncy castle and a barbecue. For parents, you’ll find community resources thanks to community partners like Big Brothers and Big Sisters Ottawa, Kind Space Community Centre, and more.
During Pride’s Festival Weekend, visit the Family Pride Zone. Head to Dundonald Park on August 26 and 27 to celebrate Pride with the whole family. Here you’ll find two family fun days with live music, arts and crafts tents and outdoor games.
Capital Pride Street Festival
Celebrate the festival weekend in style with the Capital Pride Street Festival. On August 26 and 27, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., head to Bank Street between James Street and Slater Street for the party of the festival. This year, the street party is bigger than ever, taking over ten city blocks. Immerse yourself in the incredible vibe and energy as Bank Street comes alive. The street festival is about coming together and features food trucks and live entertainment. Restaurants and bar patios will be extended, accommodating more people enjoying the street festival.
If you go, check out the CAA Pride Festival tent for contests* and free CAA Pride swag like buffs, bags and last year’s hot item, our Pride sunglasses.
*No purchase necessary. Conditions apply. While supplies last.
Capital Pride Parade
Get loud and proud at the Capital Pride Parade. This year, the parade returns to bring the community together. On August 27, starting at 1 p.m., the over 200 groups with 500 marchers will leave from Elgin and Laurier, heading south on Elgin Street. The Parade will head west on Gladstone Avenue and north on Kent Street, ending at Kent and Laurier. The parade will be led by this year’s Grand Marshal, Fae Johnstone, an Ottawa based 2SLGBT+ and trans activist. Watch for the CAA Pride float!
Keep your eye out for CAA
While you celebrate Capital Pride, keep your eye out for our CAA float in the Pride Parade. You may even get your hands on some pride themed swag! Plus, Members save 10 per cent on tickets to the Pride Pageant. Visit us online to find out more.