GLOBAL DESTINATION :: Host city to WorldPride 2014, Toronto is the first city in North America ever to win the honour – in a showdown in Florida against Stockholm, Sweden – of inviting and welcoming the world to experience a Pride like no other. This June 20 – 29, LGBT friends from far and wide are expected to visit Toronto and witness the vibrancy Toronto citizens are fortunate enough to enjoy all the time – and to be dazzled: Toronto’s typical Pride festival is one of the largest and most spectacular in the world.
Toronto is North America’s fourth largest city, and is ranked the safest large metropolitan area in North America by Places Rated Almanac. LGBT people are particularly comfortable and accepted here – Toronto was the site of the first same-sex marriage in the world.
While many cities boast they are cultural melting pots, Toronto truly is, making it an ideal location for WorldPride 2014. With approximately half of it’s 2.8 million inhabitants born outside of Canada, 14o different languages are spoken in Toronto; 30-percent of inhabitants speak a second language other than English or French.
The mix works. It’s impossible not to appreciate authentic international living when walking the streets of Toronto, streets that lead to a cornucopia of communities representing the mosaic of cultures that make up the whole. Chinatown, Little Portugal, Little India, and Little Italy are just some of the ‘hoods that show off Toronto’s ethnic diversity. Neighbourhoods like posh Rosedale, the bookish Annex, hip Leslieville, and eclectic Cabbagetown offer cultural and architectural delights all visitors will appreciate.
An international population mean shops, restaurants and cultural attractions of international scope – there is literally nothing you can’t see, savour or shop for in Toronto, which offers an embarrassment of dining riches to suit any budget, weekends overflowing with experiences to check out, and some of the best shopping in the world.
Speaking of shopping, Toronto has it all. Every major luxury brand from Louis Vuitton to Chanel to Gucci are represented along the tony shopping Mecca that is Bloor Street, in Yorkville, the city’s chic heartbeat. Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market has been hailed by National Geographic as the best market in the world, while bohemian Kensington Market is a must-visit destination, along with the renown Toronto Eaton Centre by the bustling Dundas Square. Independent boutiques and shops abound, nearly all gay-welcoming.
WorldPride Toronto 2014 visitors can also expect more attractions than one visit to Toronto could possibly allow them to fit in, including Toronto Grand Dame The CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium (winning accolades worldwide), The Toronto Zoo, The Royal Ontario Museum, and the sumptuous Art Gallery of Ontario. A notoriously walkable and green city, High Park is a stunning place to spend an afternoon; the whole of Toronto is dotted with gorgeous green space.
Every visitor must schedule a day on the spectacular Toronto Islands, the crown jewel of the city where the splendid Rectory Cafe awaits, boats bob and sail, families and friends play on beautiful beaches (even a clothing optional beach awaits) – the Toronto Islands are simply more people from all walks of life mingling, Toronto-style.
A people-watcher’s paradise, Toronto will doubtlessly become the ultimate in checking each other out when visitors arrive for WorldPride 2014. There are plenty of places to do so: sidewalk cafes are everywhere; there is nothing quite like patio season in the city. And there’s something about the beautiful mix of citizenry that allows everyone in Toronto – visitor or citizen – to feel comfortable displaying who they are, be it low-key wallflower to hipster, family-type to work-the-runway peacocks. The city’s public transit – one of the best in the world – is where people pretend they aren’t watching you, when really they are.
For the WorldPride Toronto 2014 visitor, Toronto’s historic gaybourhood, Church & Wellesley, is where a large part of the action will take place. Bars, clubs, tubs, shops and restaurants are ready to welcome all, as Alexander Wood, Toronto’s original gay hero, proudly overlooks the unfolding of a special moment in time he couldn’t possibly ever have dreamed of.