Calgary Pride 2013… Meh…

This past weekend was Calgary Pride. While Pride events, festivals and parades are usually very exciting, for a city with over a million people, the Pride weekend was less that […]

Pride Pride Events Brian Webb

This article was published on September 4th, 2013

Calgary Pride 2013

Hunny, you weren’t the only one with this look on your face this year at Calgary Pride.

This past weekend was Calgary Pride. While Pride events, festivals and parades are usually very exciting, for a city with over a million people, the Pride weekend was less that impressive.

Last year the Friday night events included both an official Pride Calgary event, plus events hosted by promoters. This year Pride Calgary opted not to host their event, and bill the other third-party events all as official events. While promoted as Pride Calgary events, really they were the same old events that happened in the past only they received official recognition. Big deal.

There were no major official events on Saturday; however, Pure Pride Calgary was also sanctioned as an official event, despite being an event completely run by a promoter. While this event is the largest night party of the weekend, the promoter fills the night with way too many acts that by the time a crowd starts to get into dancing it’s quickly over because of another performance. The event also has way too many VIP tickets sold, where over 1/3 of the people attending are huddled upstairs on a balcony wanting to feel exclusive (how can you feel exclusive when everyone and their dog is on the same balcony), and the dance floor is left half empty. Many people commented throughout the night that it seemed more like a party for the promoter than for the attendees.

RBC in the 2013 Calgary Pride Parade

2013 Calgary Pride ParadeSunday was the big parade. Calgary Pride needs to be commended for their organization and execution. The 45-minute parade was on time and offered a wide variety of entries from local organizations to corporations. While Shell, RBC, TD Bank, Virgin Radio, and other major corporate partners were in the parade, WestJet, who’s headquarters are located in Calgary was notably missing (they have had a presence in the Vancouver Pride parade for the last two years). In the true spirit of celebrating pride, diversity, and equality, there were many advocacy groups that participated in the parade. It was also noted that many notable local advocates and allies of the LGBT community, including political and media personalities were in the parade. While more pride parades in North America start at either 10 or 11am, Calgary’s starts at noon, which makes way more sense. The streets this year were notably quieter this year, with less people in attendance watching the parade. The parade also had great support from many youth, families and allies of the LGBT community. It’s also very notable that this is an incredibly family-friendly pride event, with little or no half-naked men and women, which tend to detract from family and ally attendance.

2013 Calgary Pride parade

Following the parade was the wrap-up festival in Shaw Millennium Park, located at the end of the parade route. Thousands came to hear Calgary’s mayor and Premier Redford speak, and for the afternoon DJ’s and entertainers performing on the main stage. Topping off the event, which supersedes even Vancouver Prides event, was the large beer gardens overlooking the festival grounds. It was incredibly well attended. There was a large police presence at the events, and they took a friendly, active role in their duty of engaging with festivalgoers, ensuring everyone had a great time.

2013 Calgary Pride Parade

Calgary Pride isn’t large enough in numbers of people or quality of events to put it on the map as a destination pride event. It’s just not big enough and doesn’t have the excitement behind it to make it desirable for out-of-town guests. However, for anyone living within a two-hour drive of Calgary and are looking to celebrate Pride, it’s a fantastic event and well worth the trip.

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2 thoughts on “Calgary Pride 2013… Meh…

  1. Pride Calgary

    Just a few things to clear up, since we don’t want anyone to be confused about YYC Pride 2013:

    -Pride Calgary did host our own event, it happened on August 23rd, in partnership with Fairy Tales Film Festival – this was Q The Arts, and was the official kickoff to Pride Week.
    -We have chosen to allow other event promoters (such as PurePride) to host parties in an “Official Event” capacity because they have more time and resources to throw a great big party. This is the second year that this has been done, to increasingly positive public response. This also allows us to put our very limited resources to growing the Parade and Festival; our flagship events.
    -In 2013, Calgary Pride was planned and executed by 8 volunteer board members, so adding additional events onto the workload is outside of the scope of what is feasible for Pride Calgary at this time.
    -I would like to point out that there were no less than 17 events billed as Officially part of Pride Week, which is a significant increase over previous years. Never before has Calgary had a week full of events like we did this year. This really is a big deal, because while we may not have the stature of established Pride Festivals such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, Calgary is finally seeing regular growth, and is becoming a Festival that can hold it’s own.

    Glad you could join us again this year Brian, and I hope that next year we can show you that just because we’re a little smaller, we still know how to party 😉

    1. brwebb Post author

      Let there be no confusion, there is no question that everyone at Calgary Pride, including the Board of Directors and all the volunteers did an outstanding job putting together another great pride.

      The parade and festival, as I previously stated, were flawlessly executed. These really are the flagship events and are outstanding. Calgary should be very proud of building such great events. These are the foundation of Pride.

      However, as a destination event, for people flying in from Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, or even places as small as Des Moines, Iowa, the expectation is more that just a great parade and festival. People coming want to come for a giant party. While that is probably not the mandate of Calgary Pride at this time, it’s what people expect. While the individual promoters grow with Calgary Pride, I’m certain that the event will get there – like everything, it takes time.

      Stay focused. Build the regional community. Keep up the great work. And ensure the fundamentals of pride are always front of mind – embrace diversity, ensure equality, and demonstrate for those who do not have the rights they deserve.

      I look forward to attending Calgary Pride again. It’s a great community with friendly people.