Nestled in British Columbia’s Interior, about an hour flight from Vancouver, Kelowna sits on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake, surrounded by mountains. From the rich blue hue of the lake as you take a dip on a hot summer’s day to the crisp, fresh mountain air that embraces you during your first ski of the season, there’s something special about Kelowna. Here’s what LGBTQ2+ travelers should know before visiting.
With Kelowna becoming more diverse each passing year, the growth of wonderful inclusive events increases too, with casual coffee meet ups, epic drag shows, club nights and drag queen wine tours. Annual events you should pop in your calendar include Kelowna Pride, which occurs in mid-June; the Okanagan’s newest, queerest wine festival, Out in the Valley, in late November; and Peak Pride (Canada’s freshest Winter Pride celebration), taking place at Big White Ski Resort in early April.
Kelowna’s Art and Culture Scene is on Fire
The art and culture scene in Kelowna is absolutely booming. With the launch of a Fringe Festival in 2019, to Indigenous art to daily live music in venues across the city, there’s something to do every night of the week. Follow Kelowna Culture on Facebook and Instagram and Tourism Kelowna’s Art, Culture and Music column to know what’s happening in town when you visit.
Kelowna’s Wineries are Crushing it
There are hundreds of amazing wineries, including many international award-winning ones, in the Kelowna area. You can visit more than 40 (and this number is growing) within a 30-minute drive from the downtown core. One of the easiest ways to experience the vineyards is on a guided wine tour, so you can hit the best wineries without having to worry about driving. If you are visiting for the first time, the biodynamic Summerhill Pyramid Winery, the first winery to be certified an Organic Winery by the Pacific Agricultural Certification Society of Vernon, is a good one to start with. A 15-minute taxi ride from downtown Kelowna will take you to West Kelowna, where the 2019 Canadian Winery of the year, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, is located.
Kelowna is More Than Just Wine
If you’re not into the vino, there are also a growing number of breweries, cideries, and distilleries in the area. At Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery in downtown Kelowna make sure to try the EVOLVE Gender Equality gin; proceeds from each bottle provide funding to organizations that champion educational opportunities and empowerment initiatives for women.
Food With Your Drink?
There is so much high-quality, delicious food in Kelowna! One great spot to start out with is the LGBTQ2+-owned DunnEnzies Pizza Co (there are several locations throughout the city, but a local favorite is in the Mission). If you have a sweet tooth be sure to hit up QB Gelato or Parlour Ice Cream, which are also queer-owned.
Kelowna is an Active Place
From the top of mountains to the waters of Okanagan Lake, there’s an outdoor activity for everyone in Kelowna. In summer, try some Stand Up Paddle Board action with the LGBTQ2+-owned Okanagan Offers. In winter, Big White Ski Resort is a must-visit, offering western Canada's largest resort night skiing area.
From the many hiking trails to hundreds of miles of walkways, bike lanes and off-road pathways (including Mission Creek Greenway), you have plenty of choices when it comes to exploring Kelowna’s great outdoors at your own pace.
You Will be Welcome in Kelowna
Kelowna is an inclusive and welcoming destination that shows up for the community. About 10% of the city’s population attends the annual Pride Parade, and Kelowna shows its diverse colors year-round at the permanent rainbow crosswalk located at the intersection of Lawrence Avenue and Pandosy Street.
Follow Tourism Kelowna’s LGBTQ2+ page to stay up to date on upcoming Kelowna queer events. Learn more about Kelowna, including the diverse range of places to stay from hotels, resorts, guest houses, and bed and breakfasts, via Tourism Kelowna.