This article was published on October 15th, 2020
When the Town of Banff decides to throw a Pride party, they do it right. This year, despite the global health pandemic, Banff Pride took place to great fanfare and the strictest adherence to COVID-19 health guidelines and regulations.
Banff Pride has brought the community together for the past seven years. It celebrates diversity and inclusion both within the town and for the LGBT community that flocks to the annual event.
Due to the pandemic, the event looked different this year. However, it stuck to its core principles of bringing people together in an open, safe, and fun way.
Fun, physically distanced Pride activities
From the onset, the organizers stressed the importance of observing health guidelines for all participants. Masks were encouraged, so was physical distancing, small gatherings, outdoor events, and ample sanitization spots.
Following tradition, Banff Pride 2020 featured inclusive events that catered to all ages and interests.
Some of the memorable highlights included:
- The Pride Flag raising that took place at the Banff Community High School Friday, October 5, by the local high school gay-straight alliance group and the top faculty.
- A Pride walk on Monday, October 5, where about 40 people met at the rainbow crosswalk at the pedestrian bridge for a group photo, and then walked through the town to the Banff Community High School for opening ceremonies from Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen, a member of the local First Nations community, gave a welcoming prayer, and Banff Pride representatives opened the week of events.
- Several small-scale events were held throughout the week at local venues, including a comedy night, an open mic night, and a drag brunch.
One of the most inspiring events was the open mic night that brought together members of the regional community who shared their coming out and transitioning stories.
There were also musical performances and poetry reading.
Besides the main events, Banff Pride has always been about the Banff community. This year, many local businesses participated by decorating storefronts with rainbow colors and welcoming Banff Pride and the LGBT community.
Banff bars and restaurants didn’t disappoint either. They rose to the occasion and answered the challenge of creating and featuring Pride-themed cocktails and desserts on their menus. Participants got to enjoy and “taste the rainbow” through original, hand-crafted cocktails by establishments like the Vermillion Room, the Rundle Bar, Banff Ave Brewing Company, The Radiant, and Park Distillery.
Some of the popular cocktails on offer included the Electric Lemonade, the Show Pony from Chuck’s Steakhouse, Eddie’s Blue-tea-ful, among fun, fruity and fabulous cocktails.
The drag queens served the pizzazz, too, staging fun, entertaining and fierce performances showcasing diversity and inclusion in the LGBT community.
Banff Pride is as much about the community as it is about adventure. The Town of Banff is located in the breathtaking Bow Valley with stunning views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and a short drive to Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and the Banff National Park.
Through its partnership with Banff Lake Louise Tourism, Banff Pride encouraged Pride participants to explore surrounding areas for a truly immersive and unforgettable experience.
Most people took time off to check out the scenic sites, explore the National Park and hiking trails, tour Lake Louise, ride the Banff gondola, and of course, sample the local cuisine from Banff restaurants.
Banff Pride has once again demonstrated the creativity and resilience of the LGBTQ community when they come together with open and inclusive communities like Banff’s people.
The event was a testament to inclusivity, diversity, and an embrace of the new realities.
COVID-19 has disrupted most Pride events, leading to cancellations and postponements. Banff Pride is perhaps a shining example that you can still celebrate Pride, safely and responsibly, by putting people first. Amazing things happen when people come together.
Even without Pride, Banff is an incredible travel destination. The breathtaking scenery, countless attractions, and the warm, welcoming people will make your trip unforgettable. Visit the Banff & Lake Louise Tourism website to learn more about the attractions and plan your next adventure.