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Pride Toronto

Quick Pick: 3 Church Street Restaurants That are Perfect for Pride Patrons

ATTENDING THIS MONTH’S PRIDE TORONTO FESTIVITIES? FUEL UP FOR THE FUN AT THESE CHURCH STREET RESTAURANTS

Church Street Restaurants Pride Toronto Dining

(Smith photo courtesy of Smith; The Keg photo courtesy of The Keg)

• At the south end of the Gaybourhood sits Guu Izakaya, a boisterous, cosmopolitan Japanese pub where you can down some takoyaki, karaage, deep-fried tofu and refreshingly affordable cocktails. 398 Church St., 416-977-0999; guu-izakaya.com

• Special-occasion diners, as well as those who simply enjoy a high-quality cut of meat, crowd the historic mansion location of the popular Keg steakhouse chain. Legend has it that at least one ghost haunts the Jarvis Street restaurant’s halls. 515 Jarvis St., 416-964-6609; kegsteakhouse.com

• Though spread across three floors, Smith manages to cultivate an appealingly intimate atmosphere—even during its very popular weekend brunch service. 553 Church St., 416-926-2501; 553church.com

—Craig Moy

Hot Date: Show Your Stripes at the Pride Parade

photo by Karen Chapelle

JULY 1 Celebrate diversity with the city’s huge lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community as a week of festivities culminates in the annual Pride Toronto parade. Drawing tens of thousands of spectators and participants from across Ontario and even farther abroad, the boisterous bash honours openness and acceptance with over-the-top costumes, music and decorative floats as revellers make their way down Yonge Street, from Bloor Street south to Gerrard Street. 2 p.m.; call 416-927-7433 or see here for more information.

Weekend Roundup, June 24 to 26

Friday: Show Aretha Franklin some respect at David Pecaut Square

Friday, June 24
Start the weekend on a high note as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, opens the TD Toronto Jazz Festival with a free show at David Pecaut Square. The festival continues until July 3, and promises performances by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Branford Marsalis, and even hip-hop outfit The Roots.

One of the largest GLBT celebrations in the world, Toronto’s Pride Week begins this weekend with events throughout the city. Tonight the Gladstone Hotel hosts a Gay-Straight Alliance Dance Party, with DJs including Cosmic Cat and Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, spinning tunes. The festival culminates with the annual Pride parade on July 3.

Enjoy an evening of timeless classics and traditional swing-jazz numbers at a Roy Thomson Hall performance by the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Directed by renowned trombonist Gary Tole with special guest Susie Arioli, the big band’s setlist includes all-time favourites like “In the Mood,” “Moonlight Serenade” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

Saturday: Sway to the sweet sounds of folk crooner James Taylor

Saturday, June 25
The sweet sounds of acoustic folk music fill the open-air Rexall Centre at York University as James Taylor makes an appearance at the BlackCreek Summer Music Festival. Fans of the Grammy-winning troubadour can expect to hear his hits including “Fire and Rain”, “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Carolina in my Mind.”

Cheer on all the competitors at the 23rd Annual Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival. The two-day event at Centre Island offers multicultural food and entertainment, plus more than 180 teams paddling teams competing for glory.

Calling all cycling enthusiasts! Join the fun at Mountain Equipment Co-op’s Bike Fest in the Distillery Historic District, featuring clinics and seminars, demonstrations, a scavenger ride and even live local bands.

Sunday: Les Chiclettes and other francophone artists perform at Franco-Fete.

Sunday, June 26
Round out the weekend by celebrating Canada’s other official culture at Harbourfront Centre’s Franco-Fete. The city’s only francophone festival presents a bevy of family-friendly performances, culinary demonstrations and much more. Très bien!

The Toronto Zoo marks the occasion of the International Indian Film Academy Awards being held downtown with it’s own Bollywood party. The festivities include music and dancing for children, as well as storytelling, henna tattoos and more.

Welcome the start of summer with a 1920s-style garden party at Spadina Museum: Historic House and Gardens. Guests can marvel at the mansion’s decor—recently restored to its Jazz Age heyday—dance to jazz rhythms, enjoy period-appropriate refreshments, and even solve a murder mystery.

Weekend Roundup, July 2 to 4

We hope you have some energy leftover following the big Canada Day bash, because the city is flush with exciting activities all weekend long.

Friday: Cirque du Soleil inspires awe (photo by Domenique Lemieux)

Friday, July 2
The impossible is achieved before the naked eye in Cirque de Soleil’s Alegría, yet another spellbinding performance by the world-famous troupe. This spectacle derives its name from the Spanish word for jubilation, a feeling sure to be evoked by its gravity-defying acrobatics, graceful contortionists and more.

Immerse yourself in the theatrical arts at the Toronto Fringe Festival, which presents 150-plus independent theatrical productions—musicals, dramas, single-person shows and much more.

Dig into some juicy beef and pork at the Toronto Ribfest. The popular event at Centennial Park also features live entertainment, plus vendors for those who may be immune to the allure of a juicy rack of ribs.

Saturday: Catch a Cyndi Lauper concert

Saturday, July 3
Lords and ladies are welcome to attend Casa Loma’s Renaissance Festival. Take a trip back to medieval times:  warhorses parade in the stables, warriors patrol a Viking encampment, and minstrels stroll by as you explore the castle. Don’t be surprised to see soldiers burst into spontaneous duels!

Gather at Yonge-Dundas Square this evening for a free concert by Chaka Khan, Macy Gray and Quebec-based trio Lost Fingers, courtesy of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

“Girls just wanna have fun”—and you probably do, too, so head over to Queen’s Park, where Cyndi Lauper—along with The Clicks and Dragonette—performs live as part of this week’s Pride festival. The pop icon also marks the release of her latest album, Memphis Blues, with a CD signing at the Manulife Centre’s Indigo store.

Sunday: The Queen comes to town (photo by Steve Punter)

Sunday, July 4

Hear ye, hear ye! Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, grace Toronto with a royal visit today. The monarchs will greet well-wishers following the 11 a.m. service at St. James Cathedral, and then preside over the 151st running of the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack.

Show your (rainbow) stripes at the 30th annual Pride Parade takes off from Church and Bloor streets at 2 p.m., in the country’s biggest celebration of sexual diversity.

Gather at Exhibition Place to partake in the annual CHIN International Picnic, the world’s largest free picnic and music festival. Snack on multicultural fare, see jungle cats, a dog show and circus acts in the midway, and then cheer the crowning of this year’s “Mr. Chin.” (Saturday’s festivities name Miss Chin and culminate in an evening of fireworks.) If the karaoke competition doesn’t raise the bar, a musical performance by Italy’s Nek certainly will.

Hot Date: Pride Week Wraps Up

There's much to ogle at the Pride Parade

JUNE 25 TO JULY 4 Celebrate three decades of sexual diversity at Pride Toronto, which honours gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered lifestyles. Join thousands of participants for this festival that includes a free concert by pop diva Cyndi Lauper on July 3 at the Queen’s Park stage at 9 p.m. On July 4, the much-exalted Pride Parade wraps up the 10-day event with raucous, brightly—and often scantily—clad men and women winding through the streets starting at 2 p.m. The route begins at Bloor and Church streets and ends at Gerrard and Church streets with assorted floats and costumed participants to get everyone in the mood. Call 416-927-7433 or click here for a schedule and ticket information.

June Hot Date—Pride Toronto

Toronto's Pride Parade is a colourful spectacle (photo by Kevin Lam).

Toronto's Pride Parade is a colourful spectacle (photo by Kevin Lam).

JUNE 19 TO 28 Pride Toronto colourfully descends upon the city with the theme of Can’t Stop: Won’t Stop. Ten days of frivolity, family programming and one of the world’s largest street fests makes it an annual bash not to miss. The Pride Parade, the signature closing event, takes place on June 28 at 2 p.m. (Its tamer—though no less spirited—sister parade, the Dyke March, takes place on June 27 at 2 p.m.) Call 416-927-7433 or visit www.pridetoronto.com for a complete schedule and the parade routes.