Your Montréal Pride Survival Guide

Richard Burnett

Fierté Montréal Pride is the largest LGBTQ Pride in Canada and will take place at the Parc des Faubourgs from August 9 to 19.

In 2017, some 2.7 million visitors attended their historic Canada Pride edition, and this year hundreds of thousands of partygoers are expected to attend more than 150 events – including free outdoor concerts, literary readings, theatre performances and great parties – during the 11-day-long festival, notably Fierté Montréal Pride’s three flagship events: Community Day on August 18, along Sainte-Catherine Street East in the Village; the ever-popular Pride Parade on August 19 at 1 pm; and the iconic Mega T-Dance at the Parc des Faubourgs beginning at 3 pm.

Below are some tips and highlights to help you survive Fierté Montréal Pride 2018:

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Laying the Foundation: Community Day

Community Day is an educational and grassroots component of Pride that enables the LGBTQ and mainstream communities to discover the many exciting organizations, community groups, businesses and sports teams run by and catering to the LGBTQ community. Kiosks will line Sainte-Catherine Street East in the Village, between Saint-Hubert Street and Papineau Avenue. There will also be an Open Air Book Fair benefiting Fierté Montréal Pride activities, including Literary Pride.

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Dancing in the Streets: Pride Parade

The Pride parade on Sunday, August 19 begins at 1 pm and runs east along René-Lévesque Boulevard from downtown Metcalfe to Alexandre-de-Sève streets. The crowds lining the 2.7 kilometre parade route are thinner at the beginning of the parade and get extremely crowded near the end. So pick a good spot to watch the parade – such as around Bleury Street where spectators can sit on the grassy hill at the SNC Lavalin Park – and go early.

This year’s six grand marshals include out Olympian Gus Kenworthy and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a trans veteran of the Stonewall Riots of 1969.

Do not forget to observe the Moment of Silence at 2:30 pm to honour LGBTQ pioneers and those we have lost to violence and AIDS.

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Mega T-Dance

After the parade on August 19, the annual post-parade Mega T-Dance (featuring DJ Suri, Morabito and Hex Hector) kicks off at 3 pm, 1980s pop icon Samantha Fox performs at 8:30 pm sharp, and 2018 MX Fierté Montréal drag contest winner Tracy Trash and runners-up Uma Gahd and LaDrag On-fly co-headline the Closing Show at 10:50 pm.

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Free outdoor shows

Highlights include Montréal nightlife icon and drag legend Michel Dorion’s annual Illusion concert on August 10, featuring a stellar cast of some 30 Montréal drag performers ­– kings and queens ­­– including Anaconda La Sabrosa, Charli Deville and the legendary Manny. This year’s special guest star is Ada Vox, the golden-voiced drag queen who made “herstory” as a 2018 American Idol runner-up.

The August 11 Leading Ladies concert showcases Montréal-based entertainers committed to celebrating sexual and gender diversity, including Laurence Nerbonne and popular electropop duo Milk & Bone.

New Orleans rapper and the undisputed “Queen Diva” of Bounce music Big Freedia headlines a concert on August 15. Also, on this night, Excellence celebrates queer and trans people of colour.

Drag superstar Bianca Del Rio, winner of the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, will host the biggest ever edition of Fierté Montréal Pride’s Drag Superstars concert on August 16. The three-hour show will feature a dozen guest performers: Adore Delano, AJA, Bebe Zahara Benet, Ongina, Pearl, Kameron Michaels, Miz Cracker, Monet X Change, Morgan McMichaels, Shangela, Pangina Heals and Darienne Lake.

Internationally-acclaimed Canadian icon Peaches will headline the electro / glam / rock concert CLASH on August 17.

Don’t miss the star-studded JET SET concert on August 18 starring R&B Broadway diva Deborah Cox, flamboyant YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, Juno Award nominee Mia Martini and out British pop phenom Calum Scott who recently told me, “Canada has a special place in my heart because my family is here.”

Click here for all concerts and events.

Pride is about more than just parties

Fierté Montréal Pride 2018 features cultural activities like film screenings, an AIDS poster exhibition and literary readings (including a Literary Pride public Q&A with Mambo Italiano playwright Steve Galluccio on August 16), voguing (The POP Kiki Ball on August 12) and an August 17 comedy workshop hosted by stand-up comic Tranna Wintour. There is also programming for trans festivalgoers and women, including The L March on August 12.

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Montréal Pride is children-friendly

Got kids? Bring them to Kids' Day on August 16, where activities for children aged 3 to 12 will be held. Free snacks and refreshments will also be provided. There are other activities for youth, including Pride Day at La Ronde amusement park on August 17. Community Day in the Village is on August 18, and the August 19 Pride Parade is a crowd-pleaser for all ages, with plenty of families marching with community groups.

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Pride Dos and Don’ts

Charge your smart phone: A fully-charged phone is essential to keep in contact with friends, partners or significant others – and to share your magic moments! Plus, the Village was the first commercial sector of Montréal to offer free Wi-Fi access. Don’t forget to tag your tweets and photos with #MTLmoments and #fiertemtl.   

Carry some spending money: It’s always a good idea to have cash on hand to buy a cool beverage, a snack or a souvenir. If you need a little extra, the TD Bank, Canada Pride Montréal 2017’s presenting sponsor, has mobile ATMs at Parc des Faubourgs and Place Émilie-Gamelin. There are also five banks with ATMs in the Village.

Pick a good spot to watch the parade: The August 19 parade begins at noon and runs east along René-Lévesque Boulevard from Drummond to Alexandre-de-Seve streets. The crowds lining the 2.5 kilometre parade route are thinner at the beginning of the parade and get extremely crowded near the end. Pick a good spot – such as around Bleury Street where spectators can watch from the grassy hill at the SNC Lavalin Park – and go early.

Observe the Moment of Silence at the Pride parade at 1:30 pm, to honour LGBTQ pioneers and those we have lost to violence and AIDS.

Use public transportation. Parking in downtown Montréal – especially during the parade – is tough. Parc des Faubourgs and Place Émilie-Gamelin are located near either Papineau or Berri Métro stations and, of course, the rainbow columns of Beaudry Métro station lead the way into the heart of the Village.

Wear comfortable shoes, bring water, sunblock, sunglasses and hats.

Make plans to party somewhere post-parade, such as at ticketed and associated Montréal Pride events.

Diversify Your Adventures: While you’re in Montréal, visit the new Grande Roue in the Old Port, the Barbie Museum downtown (free admission) or ride a BIXI bicycle to LGBTQ and queer-friendly establishments outside the Village. Or take a self-guided tour of Historical Queer Montréal.

Montréal Pride hosts the inaugural Canada Pride Montréal 2017 festival from August 10 to 20. For more information, visit www.fiertemontrealpride.com.

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogger

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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