Gurl, get out your glitter! Banff Pride is returning with a bang this October. Celebrating diversity and love in all it’s forms, Banff Pride week technically takes place October 3-10. In truth, the events kick off a wee bit earlier and I’ve got the low down on which ones you’ll want to quickly snag tickets for.
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If you’ve never been to The Radiant, a fabulous Art Deco parlour, lounge and restaurant, take this as your cue to attend the BIG GAY LIBRA PARTY on Friday, October 1. This unofficial launch also celebrates the birthday of Karla Marx, a Calgary-based drag queen and Trans Activist.
The party heads back to The Radiant on Sunday, October 3 with The Robert Adam Band. Billed as a glamour country power group, Robert is surely the prettiest cowboy you ever did see. More importantly, Robert is a fantastic performer.
Secretly I’m not a huge fan of live music, but all that changed while watching this show. Robert is funny, kind and humble and worked the room, introducing himself to each table. We rolled through country classics and Robert’s own original music. Within minutes the dance floor was packed. This is a performer to seek out, and I’m told The Radiant brings him back to Banff throughout the year.
During Pride week look for drag shows taking place atop the Banff Gondola and The Radiant, plus improv and beer nights. Need a breathier? Sign up for Drag Bingo, a ghost walk or a yoga class.
Brooke Lynn Hytes
Pinch me! Host of Canada’s Drag Race and finalist in Season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Brooke Lynn Hytes is headlining this year’s Banff Pride! You can meet this talented queen at the kick off party at Rundle Bar inside Fairmont Banff Springs on Saturday, October 2.
Keen to meet Ms. Hytes? Score VIP tickets for that privilege and to spill the tea in the VIP Lounge. A live DJ will spin tunes into the wee hours, with local drag queens and comedians keeping things lively.
But you can’t be too worse for the wear come Sunday morning, because Brooke Lynn is back at it, hosting a Drag Brunch for the ages from 11:30am – 3:00 pm. Expect more DJ action, tantalizing performances and plenty of Ki Ki over cocktails. (No basic mimosas here, babez.)
Update: Gurl, the events Brook Lynn headlined were everything and more. The kick off party at Rundle Bar was way too much fun. Ms. Hytes was such a delight, happily posing for photos and chatting up anyone who approached her. Her skin is translucent. She whispered to me she was a devotee of La Mer, so be sure to drop that into your Duty Free shopping bag the next time you’re flying. Between performances, we all took to the dance floor and blew off some of that heavy COVID steam. Eventually, I crawled into bed around 2 am, but the party was still going strong when I left.
Brunch was equally delightful. Let’s just say Banff Fairmont put on a spread for the ages. In addition to eggs henny (see what I did there?), we tucked into quinoa dishes, forbidden carbs and sinful desserts. Performers worked the catwalk, then strutted between tables pocketing that ca ca cash, all the while meeting adoring fans. Truth be told, I’d be hard pressed to say which event was better, as both delivered good value. I’d wager these two events will sell out within minutes next year. Forewarned is forearmed.
With over a dozen Banff bars and restaurants whipping up Pride themed cocktails, there’s plenty of opportunity to drink for a cause. Proceeds go to support local LGBTQ2+ organizations. Stand outs include the Glacier Lily at Bear St. Tavern and a deconstructed, interactive Strawberry Lemonade at Sky Bistro – accessible via a 90-minute hike up Sulphur Mountain or the much less sweaty Banff Gondola. Tip: Go for the gondola!
Taste the rainbow properly by curating your own cocktail crawl.
And it’s not just cocktails that are showing their Pride. Businesses around Banff are supporting Pride week in different ways. How gorgeous do those sweet buns look below?
Pride for Families
It’s never too early to begin fostering an environment of inclusivity. Begin by taking the troops to the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies on Sunday, October 3 from 9:30-11:30 am, for Chalk-full of Pride. This free, arty event is perfectly suited for children.
Afterwards head to Nourish Bistro for a Pride peach flavoured dessert or to STOCK Food & Drink at Fairmont Banff for a unicorn cookie.
Probably the most poignant Pride event is the raising of the flag. It begins with a rainbow walk at the colourful crosswalk next to the pedestrian bridge at 11:30 am on Monday, October 3. After that, we’ll walk over (yes, yours truly will be there with bells on), to Banff Community High School for the annual Flag Raising at 11:45. BYOF – flag.
Not comfortable mixing in public with unvaccinated kids? Head online for a virtual story time on Saturday, October 9, from 9:30-10:30 am with the Banff Public Library. This event is best for wee ones under the age of 5 and their caregivers.
Watch it live here: https://www.facebook.com/banfflibrary/
Where to stay during Banff Pride
Darling, you know as well as I do it’s all about location, location, location. A gal can only stumble so far in her stilettos. If you plan on fan-gurling the events headlined by Brooke Lynn Hytes, then you’ll want to bed down at Fairmont Banff Springs.
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If you’re off to The Radiant, any of the hotels along Banff Avenue will do nicely. Newly renovated Mount Royal Hotel is the closest and it sports a few super sweet rooftop hot tubs. This is where I stayed during Pride and it was perfect. The Mount Royal’s location on Banff Avenue can’t be beat, and the rooms are newly renovated + trendy. I didn’t expect a hotel this affordable to have such nice comforters and pillows AND a lovely deep tub, but it did.
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What are your favourite Pride events?