The Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival is an annual LGBTQ+ Pride event, held each year in Vancouver, British Columbia to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies. It is the largest parade of any kind in Western Canada.
Vancouver's earliest Pride celebrations began when the Gay Alliance Toward Equality (GATE) organized a picnic and art exhibit in Ceperley Park. The August 1973 edition of GATE's newspaper, Gay Tide, features coverage of "Gay Pride Week '73.", and was followed shortly thereafter by the first Pride parade in 1978. In 2011 some activists claimed that the actual Pride parade did not start until 1981. The parade, which covered only one side of the street while the other remained open to traffic, ran from Nelson Park to Alexandra Park via Thurlow, Pacific and Beach. One of the notable founders of the Pride Parade, Barb Snelgrove was inducted into the Vancouver Queer Hall of Fame in 2013.
The three-year theme for the 2009–2011 Pride Parade & Festival was Educate, Liberate, Celebrate.
The Pride Parade & Festival is run by the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS), a not-for-profit, volunteer-run organization. The mission of the VPS is to "bring together members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, their friends, allies and supporters in celebration of the unique spirit and culture of the LGBT community by producing free quality, inclusive events such as the Pride Parade & Pride Week Festival Events."
The VPS is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors and a handful of paid staff, who handle the finances, logistics and operations of the organization and events. In addition, many hundreds of volunteers are involved in running the events.
The events are funded through annual donations, corporate sponsorships, the City of Vancouver, parade entry fees, festival vendor fees, and donations collected during events.
The annual Pride parade is the largest parade in Western Canada, and one of the largest in North America. Starting at 12 noon on the day of the Pride Festival, at Robson Street and Thurlow Street, the parade heads west down Robson to Denman Street, follows Denman to Pacific and Beach Avenues and finishes at the Sunset Beach Festival site.
The parade has a contingent of approximately 150 entries, including cars, floats and marching units. Among the regulars are the Vancouver Police and Fire Departments, Dykes on Bikes, PFLAG, Little Sister's Bookstore, and many of the bars and clubs from the Davie Village. A regular feature of each parade is an institution of parade marshals. Often it is a person representing a country where similar events are banned and gay people are still persecuted. The grand marshal in 2010 was Nikolai Alekseev from Moscow, Russia.
In 2013, the Pride Parade was granted official civic status by the City of Vancouver.
The Sunset Beach Festival takes place on the Sunday of the August long weekend, concurrently with the Pride parade. Located at Sunset Beach at the end of the parade route, the festival includes a diverse collection of vendors, entertainment, family activities and beer gardens.
In addition to the Pride Parade & Festival, the VPS organizes a number of events throughout the summer, including East Side Pride, held on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Gay Day @ Playland, Movie Night, Picnic in the Park, in Stanley Park, Davie Street Pride Party, a large street party in the heart of the Davie Village, the Terry Wallace Memorial Breakfast and Pride Youth Dance in the evening after the parade and festival.