Sudbury is a destination for everyone who’s a part of the LGBTQ+ community. From the northern lights to vivid, bright street art, Northeastern Ontario is a colorful destination for many reasons. And that’s beside the fact that, every year, the Sudbury community takes to the streets and celebrates Pride for a week straight.
Not only is Sudbury home to the oldest pride parade in the region, it’s also home to Zig’s, the only LGBTQ+ bar in all of Northeastern Ontario. Travelers visit from all over to march in Sudbury Pride and to enjoy the week’s fun event calendar, from film screenings to art exhibitions to late-night drag shows and bar hopping, Sudbury’s LGBTQ+ scene is great for a fun-filled week of celebrations. But the pride doesn’t stop with the festivities, making Sudbury a great year-round destination for LGBTQ+ travelers.
A Week of Pride in Sudbury
Fierté Sudbury Pride, more often simply called Sudbury Pride, is a week-long LGBTQ+ parade and festival that takes place in July each year to honor and celebrate the rainbow flag. Since 1997, the Canadian queer community and its allies have been flocking to Sudbury for this seven day extavaganza of celebrations and activities.
Sudbury Pride was the first Pride event in Northeastern Ontario, and for many years was the only one in the region. A feature in This Magazine, an independent alternative Canadian political magazine, cited the city’s Pride as an event that feels “real, dangerous, like Pride’s supposed to feel.”
As the years went on, Sudbury Pride has begun to acknowledge impactful local business, individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to Sudbury’s LGBTQ+ scene, making Pride more than just a celebration among a few and more of a community-wide initiative. The city’s long history of allyship and inclusion has made it a landmark destination for Pride celebrations, and the community never disappoints.
Of course, a Pride celebration wouldn’t be complete without a parade, and Sudbury’s never disappoints. Every year, Sudbury’s version of Pride kicks off with the raising of a Pride Flag at Tom Davies Square and continues with a parade through the city. Celebrations throughout the week include film screenings at the Imagine Cinemas Downtown Movie Lounge, events at Science North, Market Square and Bell Park, and even themed boat cruises.
Time for Queerantine
Since 2020, Pride has taken a bit of a different form. With parades and crowd-filled streets out, Queerantine came in. Not wanting to lose the momentum that had so diligently built up over the years, the folks at Fierté Sudbury Pride switched tack to create a program that featured 15 online events, activities and community projects over the course of a week.
Although this has stripped the event of much of the glitz and glamor you’d usually expect from a Pride celebration, it certainly hasn’t dulled its spirit. Events like Lunch Time Talks—where issues like intersectionality and rights in the workplace are discussed—projects such as Pride Care Packages, and partnerships like the one with local newspaper Le Voyageur not only provide a platform for members of the LGBTQ+ community to speak about the challenges they regularly face, but also to educate others about these issues.
Plus, with nights dedicated to entertainment, there are still plenty of festivities to enjoy. Speed-friending, Queer Trivia, and an Online Drag Show Spectacular were just some of the events on offer, and while some will return to their in-person format when we move away from social distancing and stay-at-home mandates, some will remain. Because there’s nothing better than being able to share your Pride far and wide!
More Than Pride
Whether the sun is setting on a long day of Pride in July’s sweet summer or you’re visiting Sudbury during the snowier months, all of Sudbury’s LGBTQ+ community flocks to Zig’s to dance the night away. It’s the city’s—and Northeastern Ontario’s—(only) beloved gay bar, and locals love the atmosphere and consider Zig’s to be the best bar in Sudbury by a landslide.
Besides being a great place to dance the night away without a care—the interior’s rainbow wall panels and light-up dancefloor are particularly fun—it’s one of the most important spaces in Sudbury; a safe place for the queer community and its allies, where everyone can be their authentic selves. It’s an important fixture in Sudbury’s landscape, and a point of pride for locals, so don’t leave Sudbury without stopping into Zig’s for a drink or bite to eat.
Another ‘only’ for Sudbury is the Queer North Film Festival (QNFF): the only queer film festival in Northern Ontario. Driven by Sudbury Indie Cinema, a co-op that brings independent cinema to and screens film festivals in Sudbury, QNFF celebrates the diversity of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and two-spirited communities through quality cinema.
The multi-day event takes place at the Sudbury Indie Cinema, a repurposed disused school hall that has been converted into a state-of-the-art 180-seat digital cinema, and features film premiers, artist talks, and social events that focus on queer-themed films and videos. If you’re in town around August, be sure to reserve your seats.
From rainbow flags to spectrums in the night sky, Northeastern Ontario is a colorful destination. For more information about this diverse region, visit our Northeastern Ontario Travel Guide.