It’s no surprise British Columbia’s tagline, Super, Natural British Columbia, has inspired so many LGBTQ2+ visitors to discover the province. From its welcoming spirit to its raw wilderness, from its urban areas surrounded by natural beauty to spectacular wine country, the diversity found in British Columbia matches the diversity found in the LGBTQ2+ spectrum - there’s something for everyone!
Home to the biggest LGBTQ2+ community in Western Canada and one of the biggest Prides in the country, Vancouver is often the first stop for queer visitors to British Columbia. Nested between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountains, Vancouver prides itself on being an inclusive city with a relaxed attitude, offering a seductive mix of urban and nature experiences.
While many cities around the world can boast of having a Gay Village, Vancouver is lucky enough to be able to show off two of them: the West End (including Davie Village) and Commercial Drive. The West End is home to most of the city’s queer bars, along with great restaurants and cafes as well as the community’s LGBTQ2+ culture hub, Little Sisters Books and Art Emporium. Commercial drive is where LBQ women tend to congregate. Despite not having any full-time clubs exclusively for women, there are a number of women’s parties in and around town and a vibrant drag king community. To get the inside scoop on all things LGBTQ2+ in the city, Forbidden Vancouver offers the “Really Gay History” walking tour. From learning about the city’s first gay bars to the remarkable story of two-spirited warrior Gone to the Spirits, you’ll leave this tour so much gayer and wiser!
About an hour flight or a 4.5-hour drive from Vancouver, you’ll find yourself in the heart of the province’s wine country, Kelowna. As the main city in the Okanagan Valley (also referred to Napa of the North or “Kelowna-fornia”), the region offers glorious weather, wonderful beaches and more than 40 wineries. Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, even stopped for a tasting at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery when they visited the area in 2016.
For a mid-size city on the lake, Kelowna has no shortage of LGBTQ2+ offerings, with casual coffee meet ups, epic drag shows, club nights, and even drag queen wine tours. Kelowna is also home to a number of major annual events for the community including Kelowna Pride every June, the new queer wine festival OUT in the Valley in November, and Peak Pride in winter.
Located just a 90-minute drive north from Vancouver, Whistler is the kind of mountain resort town where you can go as adventurous or relaxed as you want. It’s a four-season destination offering just as many outdoor activities in summer as in winter, from black diamond snowboarding to easy outdoor yoga, from to hiking to nature spas. It’s also home to Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, one of the biggest and best LGBTQ2+ winter pride events in the world.
For those who may be thinking more about the après ski than the actual ski, have no fear, Whistler’s got you covered. While much of the town’s activities focus around the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort, there’s lots to discover both inside and outside of the resort area. Treat your palate to an award-winning restaurant, and quench your thirst at one of the two local breweries or the town’s brand new distillery, Montis Distilling. Then enjoy a delicious cocktail at the Cure Lounge at Nita Lake Lodge, or dance the night away at Buffalo Bills. Play hard, relax hard, it’s all in a day’s work in Whistler.
For more information on what’s happening in LGBTQ2+ Vancouver, Tourism Vancouver can help you out. For Kelowna, visit Kelowna.lgbt or Tourism Kelowna’s LGBTQ2+ page. And for all of the latest details on activities for the queer community in Whistler, check out Tourism Whistler for more information.