Montréal Pride survival guide
This article was updated on June 21, 2019.
Montréal Pride is the largest LGBTQ Pride in Canada and will take place at the Parc des Faubourgs from August 8 to 18.
In 2018, some 2.1 million visitors attended Montréal Pride, 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 Montréal Pride’s three flagship events: Community Day on August 17, along Sainte-Catherine Street East in the Village; the ever-popular Parade on August 18 at 1 pm; and the iconic Mega T-Dance at the Parc des Faubourgs on August 18 beginning at 3 pm.
Below are some tips and highlights to help you survive Montréal Pride 2019:
Laying the foundation
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 and Papineau Streets. There will also be an Open-Air Book Fair benefiting Montréal Pride activities, including Literary Pride.
Dancing in the streets
The August 18 Parade 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 grand marshals will be announced on June 28.
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.
After the parade on August 18, the annual post-parade Mega T-Dance kicks off at 3 p.m. The full line-up of international DJs and performers, as well as the closing show, will be announced on July 2.
Free outdoor shows
Highlights include international chart-topping pop superstar Ciara, who headlines the star-studded Jet Set concert on August 17.
Comedy legend and queer icon Margaret Cho headlines the Excellence concert on August 16.
Drag superstar Sasha Velour, winner of the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, hosts the biggest-ever edition of Montréal Pride’s Drag Superstars concert on August 15. The three-hour show will feature a dozen performers: A'keria Chanel Davenport, Detox, Willam, Trinity the Tuck, Silky Nutmeg Ganache, Latrice Royale, Manila Luzon, Naomi Smalls, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Yvie Oddly and Canada’s very own Brooke Lynn Hytes.
Pride is about more than just parties
Drag makes up a large component of the programming. Highlights include Afro Drag, a conference on legendary female impersonator Guilda, the British Drag Syndrome troupe of drag queens living with Down’s Syndrome, and the Manspread drag king show.
Out country star Steve Grand headlines the Espace Casino de Montréal at Parc des Faubourgs, the same venue that will host the hugely popular Mundo Disko event featuring Montréal DJs B’ugo, Charly P, Lost Heroes and famed Godfather of Montréal Disco Robert Ouimet. The Espace Casino de Montréal will also host the voguing ballroom event FUNDAMENTAL: The 50 Years of Gay Liberation Kiki Ball.
There is also programming for women and trans festivalgoers, including the Trans Egeria photo exhibition about trans persons who have marked the history of the Québec trans community.
Montréal Pride 2019 is children-friendly
Got kids? Bring them to Kids Day on August 14, featuring activities for children aged 3 to 12. Free snacks and refreshments are also provided. There are other activities for youth, including Story Time for LGBT Families and Allies at the McCord Museum in both French and English with host drag queens LaDrag On-Fly and Uma Gahd on August 10, the queer Youth Show concert on August 10, and Pride Day at La Ronde amusement park on August 16. Community Day in the Village is on August 17, and the August 18 Parade is a crowd-pleaser for all ages, with plenty of families marching with community groups.
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, Montréal Pride’s presenting sponsor, has mobile ATMs at Parc des Faubourgs. There are also two banks with ATMs in the Village.
Use public transportation. Parking in downtown Montréal – especially during the parade – is tough. Parc des Faubourgs is a brief walk from the Village, which is accessible via Papineau, Beaudry and Berri-UQAM metro stations.
Wear comfortable shoes and bring water, sunblock, sunglasses and a hat.
Diversify your adventures: While you’re in Montréal, visit the Grande Roue in the Old Port and the Barbie Expo 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.
Whether you're in Montréal for the entire festivities or just for a few days, VIA Rail Canada is a great option.
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.