BANFF – The ninth time’s a charm.
Banff Pride Week is entering its ninth year of celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQ2+ community in the Bow Valley and kicks off on Friday (Oct. 1).
“I’d like to say this is probably the biggest and best year we have planned despite the challenges the whole community is facing with the pandemic,” said Jeffrey Carpenter of the Banff Pride Society. “All the partners in town have really rallied together to make this a special event.”
Since 2013, Banff Pride has grown from a single-day event to a full week-long celebration. At this year’s Banff Pride, the week will include events for all ages with Banff Pride partnering with local organizations.
One of the factors that led Carpenter to proclaim this Banff Pride as the biggest and best year is because of television’s Brooke Lynn Hytes. She was the host of Canada's Drag Race and star of season 11 of RuPaul's Drag Race.
“She’s the most recognizable drag queen in Canada and she’ll be performing two separate events at the Fairmont Banff Springs. That level of celebrity is pretty huge for our little mountain town. We are so thrilled that she will be here to help celebrate and kick off the week," said Carpenter.
Banff Pride will be climbing to new heights this year for a mountaintop drag show at the Banff Gondola for the first time. The show will feature three local performers.
Carpenter was quick to point out that the week is inclusive for everyone and is about more than just partying. He added there are events for everyone from all different walks of life and different age groups to enjoy the entire week.
One event that Carpenter is excited about every year is the open mic night at The Radiant, which is hosted by Aurora Borin.
“It’s a really heartwarming event. It sells out every time and it’s so nice to have a wide range of people to go up on stage and share their talents. It creates a really nice community vibe.”
That community vibe is something that Carpenter said really separates Banff Pride from Pride Week in larger cities.
“I find our Pride is more cozy. You get a community experience. You can experience the big show, but we also have the Pride walk, chalk-full of pride and the flag raising at the high school. You definitely get a local and very authentic experience.”
Taste the Rainbow will return this year with 27 businesses participating, featuring Banff Pride-themed cocktails and desserts Oct. 3-11. Proceeds go to LGBTQ2+ organizations.
“It was really well received last year, especially when people may not be comfortable attending some of the larger events. This allows them to still do something for Banff Pride and participate in their own way and taste the rainbow and also explore the town,” said Carpenter.
Pride offers people a chance to celebrate the diversity and inclusion in Banff, but also highlights how inclusive Banff is for residents and visitors 365 days a year.
Visit banffpride.ca for more information and tickets for events.